The 2017 College Football Hall of Fame class was announced on Monday, and, as one would expect, there are plenty of big names.
The class is headlined by former Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning as well as former Florida and South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier. Ex-Clemson and Arkansas coach Danny Ford, San Diego State running back Marshall Faulk, Michigan State wide receiver Kirk Gibson and New Mexico linebacker Brian Urlacher were also elected.
Manning spent four years at Tennessee in the late 1990s following a controversial decision to not follow his father Archie’s path at the University of Mississippi. He finished his career with the Volunteers as the owner of 42 NCAA, SEC and Tennessee records.
Manning would go 39-6 as a starter at Tennessee and led the school to the SEC Championship in 1997. He was expected to win the Heisman Trophy as a senior, but surprisingly wound up finishing second behind Michigan cornerback Charles Woodson.
Manning, who retired from the NFL last year after helping the Denver Broncos to a Super Bowl title, had this to say on his induction:
“It’s a tremendous honor to represent Tennessee and join the distinguished list of University of Tennessee alumni in the National Football Foundation College Football Hall of Fame. I’ve always had great appreciation for the unbelievable history of Tennessee football, coaches and players. I’m extremely appreciative and humbled by this incredible honor.”
Spurrier and Manning did battle several times during their respective careers. In fact, many attributed Manning’s Heisman defeat to the Volunteers’ loss at the hands of Spurrier’s Florida Gators that season. Spurrier went 3-0 against Tennessee with Manning as the starter.
Spurrier, who won the Heisman Trophy himself with Florida in 1966, is already in the College Football Hall of Fame as a player. He was inducted in 1986. He will join Bobby Dodd, Amos Alonzo Stagg and Bowden Wyatt as the only members of the hall to make it as a player and as a coach.
He led the Gators to a National Championship in 1996 and won six SEC titles after returning to Florida as head coach in 1990. He is the all-time wins leader for both Florida and South Carolina and helped the Gamecocks to three consecutive top-10 finishes before retiring n 2015.
Faulk was named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2011 following a stellar pro career with the Indianapolis Colts and St. Louis Rams. He initially emerged as a star during a three-year career at San Diego State in the early 1990s. He ran for at least 1,400 yards in every season and finished just 27 yards shy of 1,000 receiving yards in his college career.
In all, Faulk finished his career with the Aztecs with 4,589 rushing yards to go along with 62 total touchdowns.
Gibson is known most for his Major League Baseball career. He won the National League MVP award in 1988 and won a World Series that year as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers. However, prior to playing professional baseball he was a star wide receiver at Michigan State.
In four season with the Spartans, Gibson hauled in 112 passes for 2,347 yards with 24 touchdowns. He also ran the ball 16 times for 144 yards and another two scores.
Following an All-American career as a safety at New Mexico in the mid-to-late 1990s Urlacher would enjoy a stellar NFL career as a linebacker with the Chicago Bears. He would go on to be named to eight Pro Bowls and helped Chicago reach the Super Bowl in 2006, where they would lose to Manning and the Colts.
The other 2017 College Football Hall of Fame inductees are as follows:
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