IRVING, Texas (Jan. 9, 2015) – The National Football Foundation (NFF) & College Hall of Fame announced today the 2015 College Football Hall of Fame Class, which includes the names of 15 First Team All-America players and two legendary coaches. The inductees were selected from the national ballot of 75 All-America players and six elite coaches from the Football Bowl Subdivision and the 87 players and 25 coaches from the divisional ranks.
2015 COLLEGE FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME CLASS
- TREV ALBERTS – LB, Nebraska (1990-93)
- BRIAN BOSWORTH – LB, Oklahoma (1984-86)
- BOB BREUNIG – LB, Arizona State (1972-74)
- SEAN BREWER – DL, Millsaps (Miss.) (1989-92)
- RUBEN BROWN – OT, Pittsburgh (1991-94)
- WES CHANDLER – SE, Florida (1974-77)
- THOM GATEWOOD – SE, Notre Dame (1969-71)
- DICK JAURON – RB, Yale (1970-72)
- CLINTON JONES – HB, Michigan State (1964-66)
- LINCOLN KENNEDY – OT, Washington (1989-92)
- ROB LYTLE (deceased) – RB, Michigan (1974-76)
- MICHAEL PAYTON – QB, Marshall (1989-92)
- ART STILL – DE, Kentucky (1974-77)
- ZACH THOMAS – LB, Texas Tech (1992-95)
- RICKY WILLIAMS – RB, Texas (1995-98)
- BILL SNYDER – 187-94-1 (66.5%); Kansas State (1989-2005, 2009-Present)
- JIM TRESSEL – 229-79-2 (74.2%); Youngstown State (1986-2000) and Ohio State (2001-10)
“We are extremely proud to announce the 2015 College Football Hall of Fame Class,” said Archie Manning, NFF Chairman and a 1989 College Football Hall of Famer from Ole Miss. “Each of these men has established himself among the absolute best to have ever played the game, and we look forward to immortalizing their incredible accomplishments.”
The announcement of the 2015 class was made today at the Renaissance Dallas Hotel, the media hotel for the College Football Playoff (CFP) National Championship, which will be played on Monday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas between No. 2 Oregon (13-1) and No. 4 Ohio State (13-1). Several of the inductees, including Brian Bosworth (Oklahoma), Bob Breunig (Arizona State), Lincoln Kennedy (Washington) and Coach Bill Snyder attended, representing the class and sharing their thoughts on induction. Members of the class will also participate in pregame festivities and the coin toss on the field during the championship game. Bosworth, Breunig, Thom Gatewood (Notre Dame) and coaches Snyder and Jim Tressel are currently slated to represent the class during those events.
The new tradition of announcing the College Football Hall of Fame inductees before the national title game will have no impact on the induction ceremonies, which will continue to take place during the NFF Annual Awards Dinner in New York City. This new tradition sets the calendar for several years. The national championship will be played in Glendale, Ariz., on Jan. 11, 2016 and Tampa, Fla., on Jan. 9, 2017, and the Hall of Fame announcement will take place at the media hotel in the respective cities.
“The College Football Playoff National Championship weekend provides a new opportunity to shine a spotlight on the student-athletes and coaches who are being chosen for this great honor by the National Football Foundation,” said College Football Playoff Executive Director Bill Hancock. “We are pleased that the National Football Foundation and the College Football Hall of Fame are showcasing some of the game’s outstanding individuals as part of the national championship festivities. We believe fans will be excited to share in the history of the game.”
“We would like to thank CFP Executive Director Bill Hancock and his staff for the opportunity to announce our Hall of Fame Class in conjunction with the championship game,” said NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell. “The presence of the national media at the title game significantly raises the profile of the announcement and allows us to shine a much brighter light on the accomplishments of our game’s greatest legends. We are grateful for the guidance, knowledge and vision of honors court chairmen Gene Corrigan (FBS) and Jack Lengyel (divisional) for the essential role that they each play in guiding the committees in the selection of the inductees.”
The 2015 College Football Hall of Fame Class will be inducted at the 58th NFF Annual Awards Dinner on Dec. 8, 2015 at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City. The inductees will also be honored at the National Hall of Fame Salute at the Allstate Sugar Bowl in New Orleans on Jan. 1, 2016, and they will be recognized at their respective collegiate institutions with on-campus salutes during the fall. Their accomplishments will be forever immortalized in the new College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta.
2015 COLLEGE FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME CLASS NOTES
- THREE NFF National Scholar-Athletes (Alberts, Gatewood, Jauron)
- FIVE unanimous First Team All-Americans
(Alberts, Kennedy, Still, Thomas, Williams – 2)
- FIVE consensus First Team All-Americans
(Bosworth – 2, Gatewood, Jones, Lytle, Payton)
- FIVE multi-year First Team All-Americans
(Bosworth – 2, Brewer – 3, Jones – 2, Thomas – 2, Williams – 2)
- FOUR winners of college football major awards
(Alberts – Butkus; Bosworth – Butkus ; Payton – Walter Payton Award; Williams – Heisman, Maxwell, Walter Camp, Doak Walker )
- NINE conference players of the year
(Alberts, Breunig – 2, Brewer – 2, Jauron, Lytle, Payton – 2, Still, Thomas – 2, Williams – 2)
- FOUR members of a national championship team
(Bosworth, Jones – 2, Kennedy, Payton )
- 10 members of conference championship teams
(Alberts, Bosworth, Breunig, Jones, Kennedy, Lytle, Payton, Still, Thomas, Williams)
- 10played for College Football Hall of Fame coaches
(Alberts, Bosworth, Breunig, Chandler, Gatewood, Jauron, Jones, Kennedy, Lytle, Payton)
- SIX first-round NFL draft picks
(Brown, Chandler, Jones, Kennedy, Still, Williams)
- NINE offensive players (Brown, Chandler, Gatewood, Jauron, Jones, Kennedy, Lytle, Payton, Williams)
- SIX defensive players (Alberts, Bosworth, Breunig, Brewer, Still, Thomas)
- FOUR decades represented: 1960s (1) – Jones; 1970s (6) – Breunig, Chandler, Gatewood, Jauron, Lytle, Still; 1980s (1) – Bosworth; 1990s (7) – Alberts, Brewer, Brown, Kennedy, Payton, Thomas, Williams
- ONE school with its first-ever College Football Hall of Fame inductee
(Millsaps [Miss.] – Brewer)
- FIVE national championships (Tressel)
- NINE conference championships (Snyder – 2, Tressel – 7)
- 26 bowl berths (Snyder – 16, Tressel – 10)
- 10 playoff appearances (Tressel)
- Winningest football coach in school history (Snyder)
- Most wins of any FCS coach in the 1990s (Tressel)
- One of only four coaches in history to be inducted as an active coach
(Snyder – following Bobby Bowden, John Gagliardi and Joe Paterno)
- EIGHT NFF National Scholar-Athletes coached
(Snyder (5) – Russ Campbell, Brooks Barta, Jason Johnson, Tysyn Hartman and Tyler Lockett; Tressel (3) – Anthony Pannunzio [Youngstown State], Campbell Trophy winner Craig Krenzel and Brian Robiskie [Ohio State])
- First and foremost, a player must have received First Team All-America recognition by a selector organization that is recognized by the NCAA and utilized to comprise their consensus All-America teams.
- A player becomes eligible for consideration by the Foundation’s honors courts ten years after his final year of intercollegiate football played.
- While each nominee’s football achievements in college are of prime consideration, his post football record as a citizen is also weighed. He must have proven himself worthy as a citizen, carrying the ideals of football forward into his relations with his community and fellow man. Consideration may also be given for academic honors and whether or not the candidate earned a college degree.
- Players must have played their last year of intercollegiate football within the last 50 years*. For example, to be eligible for the 2015 ballot, the player must have played his last year in 1965 or thereafter. In addition, players who are playing professionally and coaches who are coaching on the professional level are not eligible until after they retire.
- A coach becomes eligible three years after retirement or immediately following retirement provided he is at least 70 years of age. Active coaches become eligible at 75 years of age. He must have been a head coach for a minimum of 10 years and coached at least 100 games with a .600 winning percentage*.
* Players that do not comply with the 50-year rule may still be eligible for consideration by the Football Bowl Subdivision and Divisional Honors Review Committees, which examine unique cases.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME QUICK FACTS
- Including the 2015 Hall of Fame class, only 963 players and 209 coaches, have been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame from the nearly 5.06 million who have played or coached the game during the past 146 years. In other words, less than two ten-thousandths of one percent (.0002) of the individuals who have played the game have been deemed worthy of this distinction.
- Founded in 1947, The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame inducted its first class of inductees in 1951. The first class included 32 players and 19 coaches, including Illinois’ Red Grange, Notre Dame’s Knute Rockne, Amos Alonzo Stagg and Carlisle’s Jim Thorpe.
- 302 schools are represented with at least one College Football Hall of Famer.
- Induction for this class of Hall of Famers will take place Dec. 8, 2015 at the 58th NFF Annual Awards Dinner in New York City’s historic Waldorf Astoria.
2015 College Football Hall of Fame Inductee Bios
University of Nebraska
One of the most decorated defensive players in Nebraska history, Trev Alberts became the Cornhuskers’ first Butkus Award winner in 1993 as the top linebacker in the nation. He becomes the 17th Husker to enter the College Football Hall of Fame.
A unanimous First Team All-American following his senior season, Alberts was named the Big Eight Defensive Player of the Year and Male Athlete of the Year in 1993. The senior team captain is Nebraska’s all-time career leader in sacks and is tied for the school’s single-season record. A two-time first team all-conference selection, Alberts led Nebraska to at least a share of three conference titles and four bowl appearances, including three-straight Orange Bowl berths. Alberts was named Defensive MVP following Nebraska’s loss in the 1993 Orange Bowl, and he helped the Huskers to an undefeated regular season and the national title game against Florida State at the Orange Bowl his senior year. The Football News Defensive Player of the Year in 1993, he earned Second Team All-America honors as a junior, and he was the Big Eight Defensive Newcomer of the Year in 1990.
Excelling off the field, Alberts was named an NFF National Scholar-Athlete and a First Team Academic All-American following his senior season. The three-time academic all-conference selection was also a recipient of the NCAA Today’s Top Eight Award and an NCAA postgraduate scholarship. At Nebraska, Alberts played for College Football Hall of Fame coach Tom Osborne and alongside Hall of Famers Tommie Frazier and Will Shields and 1994 William V. Campbell Trophy winner Robert Zatechka.
Alberts was selected in the fifth round of the 1994 NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts, spending three seasons with the franchise. The Cedar Falls, Iowa, native had his number retired by Nebraska in 1994, and he is a member of the university’s All-Century Team and the state of Nebraska Football Hall of Fame. After his playing career, Alberts spent time as a college football analyst for ESPN and CBS Sports Network, and he now serves as the director of athletics at the University of Nebraska Omaha.
University of Oklahoma
The only two-time recipient of the Butkus Award (1985 and 1986) as the nation’s top linebacker, Brian Bosworth left an indelible mark on college football during his All-America career at Oklahoma. He becomes the 21st Sooner to enter the College Football Hall of Fame.
A consensus First Team All-American in 1985 and 1986, Bosworth led Oklahoma to the 1985 National Championship after recording 13 solo tackles against Penn State in the Orange Bowl. Playing for College Football Hall of Fame coach Barry Switzer, he led the Sooners to three straight Orange Bowl appearances, three Big Eight Conference championships and a 31-4-1 overall record during his time in Norman. The three-time all-conference selection set the single-game school record with 22 tackles against Miami (Fla.) in 1986, and he finished fourth in the that year’s Heisman Trophy voting. Bosworth led Oklahoma in tackles all three seasons, and he finished his career with 395 tackles while playing alongside Hall of Famers Tony Casillas and Keith Jackson.
Bosworth also excelled off the field, graduating early with a degree in communications. He was named to the Academic All-Conference team all three seasons of his career, and he received Academic All-America honors in 1986.
Selected by the Seattle Seahawks in the 1987 NFL Supplemental Draft, Bosworth spent three seasons with the Seahawks, and he has worked in acting and real estate since his retirement. Active in the community, he founded a charity called Boz’s Kids, which has provided activities for underprivileged children in Oklahoma. ESPN Films’ 30 For 30: “Brian And The Boz” recently chronicled Bosworth’s Hall of Fame career.
Arizona State University
One of the most feared linebackers in Arizona State history, Bob Breunig twice earned WAC Defensive Player of the Year honors during his time in Tempe. He becomes the seventh Sun Devil to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
A First Team All-American in 1974, Breunig finished his career as Arizona State’s all-time leader in tackles (353) and solo tackles (206), and he currently ranks sixth and third in each respective category. Playing for College Football Hall of Fame coach Frank Kush, the three-time all-conference selection led the Sun Devils to consecutive Fiesta Bowl wins and WAC titles in 1972 and 1973. A two-year team captain, Breunig was named Arizona State’s MVP in 1974, and he appeared in the Coaches All-America Bowl, the East-West Shrine Game and the Hula Bowl following his senior season. The standout linebacker played with College Football Hall of Famers Michael Haynes, John Jefferson and Danny White during one of the most successful runs in school history.
Selected in the third round of the 1975 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys, Breunig spent 10 seasons with the team. A three-time Pro Bowl selection, he led the Cowboys in tackles four seasons, paving the way to three Super Bowl appearances and a win in Super Bowl XII.
The recipient of the 1974 Dick Butkus Silver Anniversary Award in 1999, Breunig is a member of the ASU Sports Hall of Fame and ASU Football Ring of Honor. A member of the All-Time WAC Football Team, he has served on multiple charitable boards, including the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Young Life. Breunig currently runs Breunig Commercial, a real estate company in Dallas.
Millsaps College (Miss.)
Defensive Lineman, 1989-92
The only defensive lineman in Division III history to earn First Team All-America honors three times, Sean Brewer established himself as the most dominant defender in Millsaps history. He becomes the first Major to enter the College Football Hall of Fame.
One of only five players in Division III history to be named a three-time First Team All-American, Brewer twice earned Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year honors. The only three-time All-American in conference history, he was a First Team All-SCAC selection all four years of his career. Brewer’s 435 career tackles rank fourth in conference history, and he owns the SCAC and school records for solo tackles in a season, racking up 99 in 1992. Brewer remains the Majors’ all-time leader in solo tackles (332) and quarterback sacks (52), and he ranks second in total tackles with 435. Playing for coach Tommy Ranager, he also set the college’s single-season record with 15 sacks his senior season.
In recognition of his outstanding career, the Division III Defensive Lineman of the Year Award was named the Sean Brewer Award in 2013. He is a member of the SCAC’s 15th Anniversary Team, and he earned induction into the Millsaps Hall of Fame in 2004.
After receiving his degree in 1993, Brewer went on to a successful career in education. In 2010, he was named the NASSP/Virco Assistant Principal of the Year for the state of Mississippi while working at Ridgeland High School. Brewer currently serves as principal at Rosa Scott High School in Madison, Miss.
University of Pittsburgh
Offensive Tackle, 1991-94
After transitioning from defensive tackle to offensive tackle before his freshman year, Ruben Brown’s outstanding career at Pittsburgh culminated with his selection as a First Team All-American as a senior. He becomes the 19th Panther elected to the College Football Hall of Fame.
Following his All-America campaign in 1994, Brown claimed honors as the Washington D.C. Downtown Athletic Club’s National Outstanding Lineman. The senior team captain was a three-time All-Big East selection, garnering unanimous First Team honors in 1994 and Second Team laurels as a junior and sophomore. Playing for coaches Paul Hackett and Johnny Majors, a 1987 College Football Hall of Fame inductee as a player from Tennessee, Brown appeared in the 1995 Senior Bowl and the 1994 Blue-Gray All-Star Classic.
Selected in the first round of the 1995 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills, Brown spent 11 seasons between the Bills and the Chicago Bears. A nine-time Pro Bowl selection, he was elected to the Bills’ 50th Anniversary Team in 2009, and he was a member of the 2006 Bears team that appeared in Super Bowl XLI.
A three-time recipient of the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, Brown has dedicated himself to community service. In 2001, he established the Ruben Brown Foundation, which raises and distributes funds to youth service and enrichment programs to ensure kids have an opportunity to enhance their personal gifts. Brown has received multiple awards for his work in the community, including the 2003 Salvation Army Community Service Award and 2010 Ralph C. Wilson Distinguished Service Award.
University of Florida
Split End, 1974-77
One of the greatest pass receivers in Florida history, Wes Chandler amassed a Hall of Fame career while rewriting the Florida record books. He becomes the eighth Gator to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
A First Team All-American following his senior season, Chandler finished 10th in the 1977 Heisman Trophy voting after leading Florida in receiving for three straight seasons. The senior team captain was a two-time First Team All-SEC selection, and he led the Gators to three consecutive bowl berths, including the 1974 Sugar Bowl. Ending his career as the highest scoring non-kicker in Florida history with 172 points, Chandler caught 92 passes for 1,963 yards and a then school-record 22 touchdowns, which still ranks in the top 10. A star for College Football Hall of Fame coach Doug Dickey, he appeared in the 1978 Senior Bowl and East-West Shrine Game. A 1977 First Team Academic All-American and member of the SEC Honor Roll, Chandler was the recipient of Florida’s Fergie Ferguson Award, which is presented to the senior who displays outstanding leadership, character and courage.
Taken in the first round of the 1978 NFL Draft by the New Orleans Saints, Chandler spent 11 seasons in the pros with the Saints, San Diego Chargers and San Francisco 49ers. The four-time Pro Bowl selection was named the NFL Wide Receiver of the Year in 1982, and he is a member of the San Diego Chargers Hall of Fame and 50th Anniversary Team.
After his playing career, the New Smyrna Beach, Fla., native coached in NFL Europe and the NFL, as well as at Central Florida and California. Chandler currently serves a wide receivers coach at Football University, a series of educational football camps held across the country. Active in the community, he founded the Wes Chandler Youth Foundation in 1982 to help local children in Daytona Beach, Fla., with academics, business acumen and discipline in sports. Chandler is a member of the University of Florida, Florida-Georgia and the Florida High School Athletic Association halls of fame.
University of Notre Dame
Split End, 1969-71
The first African-American captain in Notre Dame history, Thom Gatewood set almost every receiving record in school history during an All-American career on and off the field. He becomes the 45th Fighting Irish player to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
A consensus First Team All-American in 1970, Gatewood led Notre Dame in receiving all three seasons of his career. He owned multiple Irish receiving records for more than 30 years, including single-season (77) and career (157) receptions, single-season (1,123) and career (2,283) receiving yards and career receiving touchdowns (21). During his career, Gatewood led Notre Dame to an impressive 26-5-1 record and back-to-back Cotton Bowls, including a win in the 1971 edition against Texas. Playing for College Football Hall of Fame coach Ara Parseghian, the Baltimore native appeared alongside fellow Hall of Famers Dave Casper and Joe Theismann at Notre Dame. Academically, Gatewood excelled as an NFF National Scholar-Athlete in 1971 and a two-time Academic All-American.
Gatewood spent two seasons in the NFL after being selected by the New York Giants in the fifth round of the 1972 draft. A member of the Maryland Athletic Hall of Fame, he went on to serve as director and stage manager for ABC News and ABC Sports, receiving both an Emmy and Peabody Award for his work.
A stalwart in the community, Gatewood serves on the advisory board for the “Healthy Children, Healthy Futures” initiative, which helps set ground work for fitness and nutrition in inner city communities, and he is a volunteer for Minority Athletes Networking Etc. He currently is the owner and president of the advertising specialty company Blue Atlas Productions and the co-owner of Larkspur Lane Ltd., a television production company.
Running Back, 1970-72
One of the greatest running backs in Ivy League history, Dick Jauron received the Asa S. Bushnell Cup as the league’s Player of the Year in 1972. He becomes the 24th Bulldog to enter the College Football Hall of Fame.
A First Team All-American following his senior year, Jauron was a First Team All-Ivy League selection all three years of his career. Yale’s team MVP in 1972, he led the Bulldogs in rushing all three seasons and his 2,947 career rushing yards remained a school record until 2000. Playing under College Football Hall of Fame coach Carm Cozza, Jauron also set school records for consecutive 100-yard rushing games with five and career 100-yard rushing games with 16. Named the Outstanding Player in New England in 1972, he also received the Nils V. “Swede” Nelson Award for sportsmanship as a junior, and he played in the 1973 East-West Shrine Game.
Taken in the fourth round of the 1973 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions, Jauron spent five seasons with the Lions and three with the Cincinnati Bengals. He was named to the 1974 Pro Bowl in his second season after leading the NFC in punt return average.
After his playing career, the Swampscott, Mass., native turned to coaching, spending 28 seasons in the NFL as a defensive backs coach, defensive coordinator or head coach. Jauron served as head coach of the Chicago Bears, where he was named AP Coach of the Year in 2001, and the Buffalo Bills. Having retired from coaching, Jauron currently lives with his wife in Swampscott.
Michigan State University
A consensus First Team All-American his senior year, Clinton Jones led Michigan State to back-to-back national championships in 1965 and 1966. He becomes the eighth Spartan to enter the College Football Hall of Fame.
A two-time First Team All-American, Jones finished sixth in the 1966 Heisman Trophy voting, and he was a two-time consensus First Team All-Big Ten selection. The Cleveland native led the Spartans to back-to-back Big Ten championships in 1965 and 1966, and he set conference single-game records for rushing touchdowns (4) and rushing yards with 268. Jones led Michigan State in rushing as a junior and senior, and he finished his career as the school’s second all-time leading rusher with 1,921 yards and 20 touchdowns. Coached by College Football Hall of Famer Duffy Daugherty, Jones led Michigan State to a 19-1-1 record and a berth to the 1966 Rose Bowl during his career while playing alongside Hall of Famers Bubba Smith, Gene Washington and George Webster.
The second overall pick by the Minnesota Vikings in the 1967 NFL Draft, Jones spent six seasons with the Vikings and one final season with the San Diego Chargers. He helped the Vikings reach Super Bowl IV and finished his NFL career with 2,178 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns as well as 5,035 all-purpose yards.
Jones was inducted into the Michigan State University Athletics Hall of Fame in 2012. After his playing career, he received a Doctorate of Chiropractic from Cleveland Chiropractic College in 1979. His civic awards include the 1966 Big Brothers of America “Big Brother of the Year” Award and the 1981 Spinal Column Stressology Research Society Special Achievement Award. Jones currently owns Jones Chiropractic Wellness and Sports Rehabilitation Center in Lake Balboa, Calif.
University of Washington
Offensive Tackle, 1989-92
One of the most dominant offensive linemen of his era, Lincoln Kennedy led the Washington Huskies to a perfect 12-0 national championship season in 1991. He becomes the 11th Husky to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
A unanimous First Team All-American in 1992, Kennedy led Washington to bowls all four seasons of his career, including three consecutive Rose Bowls. The 1992 First Team All-Pac-10 selection led the Huskies to three consecutive conference titles, and he is one of only three two-time recipients of the Morris Trophy as the best offensive lineman in the Pac-10. A captain his senior year, Kennedy twice received Washington’s lineman of the year award, and he allowed only two sacks in his four-year career. A 2004 inductee into the University of Washington Husky Hall of Fame, he played for College Football Hall of Fame coach Don James and alongside Hall of Famer Steve Emtman during his time in Seattle.
The ninth overall selection by the Atlanta Falcons in the 1993 NFL Draft, Kennedy spent two seasons in Atlanta and nine seasons with the Oakland Raiders. The San Diego native was a two-time All-Pro selection and three-time Pro Bowler, and he led the Raiders to Super Bowl XXXVII.
Kennedy has previously served as an analyst on the NFL Network, and he owned and operated an insurance agency. He currently hosts a show on FOX Sports Radio every Saturday, and he is a member of the Oakland Raiders radio broadcast team.
University of Michigan
Running Back, 1974-76
Referred to as “the greatest back I ever coached” by College Football Hall of Fame coach Bo Schembechler, Rob Lytle rewrote the Michigan record books during his standout career in Ann Arbor. He becomes the 30th Wolverine to enter the College Football Hall of Fame.
A consensus First Team All-American following his senior campaign, Lytle finished third in the 1976 Heisman Trophy voting after being named the Big Ten Most Valuable Player. The First Team All-Conference selection set Wolverine records for single-season (1,469 in 1976) and career (3,317) rushing yards, with both totals still ranking in the top 10. A member of Michigan’s 1974 and 1976 Big Ten Conference championship teams, Lytle also set school records for 150-yard rushing games in a single-season with five and 100-yard rushing games in a career with 15. The 1976 captain and team MVP led the Wolverines to the 1976 Orange Bowl and the 1977 Rose Bowl. In 1974, Lytle received Michigan’s Maulbetsch Award, given on the basis of desire, character and leadership on and off the football field. He played alongside College Football Hall of Fame safety Dave Brown.
A second-round pick by the Denver Broncos in the 1977 NFL Draft, he played seven seasons for the Broncos. He helped guide them to Super Bowl XII during his rookie season and became the first player to score a touchdown in both the Rose Bowl and the Super Bowl.
After retiring, Lytle returned to his hometown of Fremont, Ohio, to raise his family, and he served as vice president at Old Fort Banking Company. He was active with the NFF Michigan Chapter, and he volunteered with many organizations, including Head Start, the March of Dimes and the Special Olympics. Tragically, Lytle passed away at the age of 56 on Nov. 20, 2010, following a heart attack. He was posthumously inducted into the University of Michigan Hall of Honor in 2012.
The 1992 recipient of the Walter Payton Award as the best player in Division I-AA, Michael Payton led Marshall to its first-ever national championship. He becomes the fourth member of the Thundering Herd to enter the College Football Hall of Fame.
A consensus First Team All-American as a senior, Payton led the Herd to a 12-3 record and the 1992 Division I-AA national championship after defeating Youngstown State, which was coached by fellow 2015 College Football Hall of Fame inductee Jim Tressel. In 1991, he was the Walter Payton Award runner-up after leading the nation in passing efficiency (181.3) and taking Marshall to the national championship game. Payton was twice named Southern Conference Player of the Year and Male Athlete of the Year, and he led the Herd to the 1992 conference title. For more than 20 years, Payton held the Division I-AA record for most passing yards in a half, and he currently ranks in the top four in almost every statistical passing category in Marshall history. A two-time first team all-conference selection and a team captain in 1992, he finished his career with 689 completions for 9,411 yards and 69 touchdowns.
Inducted into the Marshall University Athletic Hall of Fame in 1999, Payton played for coaches George Chaump and College Football Hall of Famer Jim Donnan and was teammates with Hall of Famer Troy Brown during his career in Huntington, W.Va. He was named West Virginia Athlete of the Year and Man of the Year in 1991 and 1992.
After spending part of 1993 with the Dallas Cowboys, Payton played two seasons with the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League before finishing his career with the Florida Bobcats of the Arena Football League in 1996. The Harrisburg, Pa., native is active in DARE and the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. Payton is currently a senior staff counselor at Alternative Rehabilitation Communities in Pennsylvania, and he serves as a personal trainer and life coach.
University of Kentucky
Defensive End, 1974-77
One of the fiercest defenders in school history, Art Still led Kentucky to its last 10-win season in 1977. He becomes the fifth Wildcat to enter the College Football Hall of Fame.
Voted a unanimous First Team All-American as a senior, Still was named the 1977 SEC Defensive Player of the Year and was a finalist for the Lombardi Award. Playing for coach Fran Curci, the two-time First Team All-SEC selection led the Wildcats to the SEC Championship and a victory in the Peach Bowl in 1976. A four-year starter, Still finished his career with 327 tackles, and he holds the school record for tackles for loss in a season with 22 in 1977. The Camden, N.J., native was twice named the National Lineman of the Week, and he led Kentucky to its highest final AP ranking as the Wildcats finished No. 6 in 1977. Named the 1977 SEC Senior Player of the Year by the Birmingham Touchdown Club, Still played in the East-West Shrine Game, Hula Bowl and Japan Bowl senior all-star games.
Chosen by the Kansas City Chiefs with the second overall pick in the 1978 NFL Draft, Still spent 10 seasons with the Chiefs and two with the Buffalo Bills. The four-time Pro Bowl selection set Chiefs’ records for sacks in a career and season, and he currently ranks second in team history with 992 tackles.
A member of the University of Kentucky Athletics Hall of Fame, Still had his jersey retired, and he is a member of the school’s All-Time Team. Named to the Quarter Century All-SEC team, he is also enshrined in the Kansas City Chiefs and State of Missouri Sports Halls of Fame. Still is a Kansas City Chiefs Ambassador, and he volunteers with Big Brothers, DARE, the Sickle Cell Foundation and the Special Olympics.
Texas Tech University
One of the most acclaimed players in Southwest Conference history, Zach Thomas claimed unanimous First Team All-America honors in 1995 following his stellar career at Texas Tech. He becomes the fifth Red Raider to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
A two-time First Team All-American, Thomas was named the consensus Southwest Conference Defensive Player of the Year in 1994 and 1995. A finalist for the 1995 Butkus Award, he led coach Spike Dykes’ Red Raiders to a share of the 1994 Southwest Conference title and three consecutive bowl games, including the 1995 Cotton Bowl and a win in the 1995 Copper Bowl. A second team all-conference selection as a sophomore, Thomas currently ranks fifth all-time in school history with 390 career tackles, and he holds the school record with seven career fumble recoveries. He became a household name his senior year after his game-winning interception against Texas A&M, which he returned 23 yards for a touchdown with 30 seconds remaining in one of the most memorable plays in Texas Tech history.
Taken in the fifth round by the Miami Dolphins in the 1996 NFL Draft, Thomas spent 12 years with the Dolphins before spending his final season with the Dallas Cowboys in 2008. The seven-time Pro Bowl selection was named the 1996 AFC Rookie of the Year and is the Dolphins’ all-time leading tackler.
The Pampa, Texas, native is now the owner of Zach’s Club 54 fitness centers in Amarillo and Lubbock, Texas. Active in the community, Thomas has volunteered with Habitat for Humanity and the United Way, and he has visited soldiers overseas. He is a member of the Texas Tech Athletics Hall of Fame, Southwest Conference Hall of Fame and the Miami Dolphins Ring of Honor.
University of Texas
Running Back, 1995-98
Ending his career as the NCAA’s all-time leading rusher with 6,279 yards, Ricky Williams took home the Heisman Trophy in 1998 following his All-America career at Texas. He becomes the 17th Longhorn to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
A unanimous First Team All-American his junior and senior seasons, Williams took home the 1998 Maxwell Award and Walter Camp Player of the Year Award, and he was the first-ever two-time recipient of the Doak Walker Award. The two-time Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year won back-to-back NCAA rushing titles in 1997 and 1998, and he set 21 NCAA records, including all-purpose yards (7,206) and rushing touchdowns (72). A three-time First Team All-Big 12 selection, Williams led Texas to the 1995 Southwest Conference championship and the 1996 Big 12 title. He led the Longhorns to three bowl berths, earning MVP honors in the 1999 Cotton Bowl, and he finished his Texas career with 46 school records. Williams is one of only three Longhorns to post three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons, and he set school records for carries (1,011), yards (6,279), yards per game (136.5) and rushing touchdowns (72) during his career. The 1998 AP and Sporting News Player of the Year, Williams was a member of the Big 12 Commissioner’s Academic Honor Roll and the 1998 AFCA Good Works Team. During his time in Austin, he played for coaches John Mackovic and Mack Brown.
Selected with the fifth overall pick in the 1999 NFL Draft by the New Orleans Saints, Williams would go on to spend eleven seasons in the NFL with the Saints, Miami Dolphins and Baltimore Ravens and one season with the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League. The San Diego native went to the Pro Bowl in 2002, and he set the Dolphins’ record for most 100-yard rushing games in team history with 24.
Williams has served as an analyst on the Longhorn Network and as an assistant football coach at the University of the Incarnate Word, and he is active in the Austin community through the Ricky Williams Foundation. A 2013 inductee into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame, he is a member of the Longhorn Hall of Honor and just had his jersey retired by the university.
Kansas State University
Head Coach, 187-94-1 (66.5%)*
The “architect of the greatest turnaround in the history of college football,” Bill Snyder became the winningest coach in Kansas State history while continuing to lead the program to national prominence during his 23 years as head coach from 1989-2005 and 2009-present. He becomes only the fourth coach to earn induction into the College Football Hall of Fame while still actively heading a program, joining Bobby Bowden (Samford [Ala.], West Virginia, Florida State), John Gagliardi (Carroll [Mont.], Saint John’s [Minn.]) and Joe Paterno (Penn State).
The 14th fastest coach in college football history to win 100 games, Snyder has led Kansas State to two Big 12 Championships and 16 of the school’s 18 bowl appearances, including 11-straight from 1993-2003. He is a three-time Big Eight and four-time Big 12 Coach of the Year, and he took home almost every major college football coaching award after the 1998 season, including those presented by Walter Camp and the Associated Press. Leading Kansas State to top 20 finishes 12 times, Snyder has coached College Football Hall of Famer Mark Simoneau along with 26 First Team All-Americans, seven First Team Academic All-Americans, five NFF National Scholar-Athletes and two Heisman Trophy finalists during his time in Manhattan, Kan.
Snyder is the chairman of the Kansas Mentors Council and the Kansas Leadership Council, and he serves on the boards or councils of many organizations, including the KSU Foundation Board of Trustees and the Terry C. Johnson Cancer Research Center. He has been awarded many awards for his civic service, including the 2006 Kansas Community Service and Kansan of the Year Awards, and he has received Lifetime Achievement Awards from Austin College (Texas), the Kansas City Sports Commission and William Jewell College (Mo.).
The Saint Joseph, Mo., native began his coaching career in the high school ranks, and he served as an assistant coach at Southern California, North Texas and Iowa before becoming the head coach at Kansas State. He is a member of the Kansas State Athletics, Missouri, Kansas, Austin College (Texas) and Holiday Bowl Halls of Fame. In 2006, Kansas State honored Snyder by renaming its stadium Bill Snyder Family Stadium, and the school unveiled a statue of him at the stadium in 2013. Snyder was a three-year letterman at wide receiver for William Jewell (Mo.)
*Games through the 2014 season.
Youngstown State University, Ohio State University
Head Coach, 229-79-2 (74.2%)
One of the greatest coaches in the history of the state of Ohio, Jim Tressel brought five national titles to the state, becoming the only head coach to win a national title at both levels of Division I college football.
Tressel served as head coach at Youngstown State from 1986-2000, leading the Penguins to 10 postseason berths in 15 seasons and four FCS national championships in six appearances in the title game. Boasting the most wins of any FCS coach in the 1990s, Tressel led Youngstown State to the 1987 Ohio Valley Conference title, and he was named OVC Coach of the Year. He was also a two-time AFCA National Coach of the Year and the 1994 FCS Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year while with the Penguins.
Tressel became the head coach at Ohio State in 2001, and he led the Buckeyes to the BCS National Championship a year later, with subsequent appearances in the championship game following the 2006 and 2007 seasons. He led Ohio State to national rankings every season, including seven finishes in the top five, and at least a share of six Big Ten titles. During his time in Columbus, Ohio, Tressel received Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year, Bear Bryant Award and FWAA Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year honors.
During his career at both universities, Tressel coached 10 national major award winners, including 2006 Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith, as well as 73 First Team All-Americans and 80 first team all-conference selections. The Berea, Ohio, native also coached seven Academic All-Americans and three NFF National Scholar-Athletes, including 2003 William V. Campbell Trophy winner Craig Krenzel.
Tressel was a first team all-conference quarterback at Baldwin-Wallace (Ohio), where he played for his father, College Football Hall of Fame coach Lee Tressel. A member of the Youngstown State Athletics Hall of Fame, he is also enshrined in the Greater Cleveland Sports and Baldwin-Wallace Athletics Halls of Fame. After his coaching days, Tressel served as a consultant for the Indianapolis Colts and as Vice President of Strategic Engagement for the University of Akron before becoming president at Youngstown State University in July 2014.