Four Nittany Lions placed on the ballot for the College Football Hall of Fame
From staff reports
Georgia cornerback Champ Bailey, Syracuse defensive end Dwight Freeney and Kansas State running back Darren Sproles will appear on the College Football Hall of Fame ballot for the first time.
The National Football Foundation on Tuesday announced the 78 players and seven coaches from major college football who are up for selection to the Atlanta-based Hall of Fame. There also are 99 players and 33 coaches from outside the highest level of college football eligible for induction.
The College Hall of Fame class of 2021 will be announced early next year. Bailey was the Nagurski Award winner as the nation’s best defensive player in 1998, while also playing receiver and returning kicks for the Bulldogs. Freeney holds the NCAA record for career sacks per game at 1.61 and was co-Big East defensive player of the year in 2001 for Syracuse. Sproles finished fifth in Heisman voting in 2003 for the Wildcats.
Among the other notable players on the ballot for the first time are kickers Sebastian Janikowski of Florida State and Luis Zendejas of Arizona State and quarterback Ken Dorsey from Miami. Former Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops is also up for induction for the first time.
Heisman Trophy winners Carson Palmer from Southern California and Rashaan Salaam from Colorado are among those returning to the ballot.
The ballot was sent to more than 12,000 National Football Foundation members. Votes will be tabulated and then the NFF honors court will select the class of 2021 from the top vote-getters.
Penn State lettermen D.J. Dozier, Bobby Engram and Steve Wisniewski have been selected as a part of the national ballot for the National Football Foundation’s College Hall of Fame’s Class of 2021. A total of 78 players and seven coaches from FBS are on the 2021 ballot.
The trio of standouts have an opportunity to join 19 former Nittany Lion players and five Penn State coaches who have been inducted into the Hall.
Also on the Hall of Fame ballot is former Nittany Lion student-athlete Glenn Killinger, who is among the candidates for the divisional coach Class of 2021. Killinger was inducted into the Hall of Fame as a player in 1966.
Additionally, current Penn State wide receivers coach Taylor Stubblefield is on the ballot. Stubblefield was a wide receiver at Purdue (2001-04) and was a consensus All-American and a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award in 2004.
The announcement of the 2021 Class will be made in early 2021, with specific details to be announced in the future.
A tailback, Dozier matriculated to Happy Valley from Virginia Beach, Va. and earned first team All-America honors from the Walter Camp Football Foundation in 1986. Dozier is the only Nittany Lion to lead the team in rushing four consecutive seasons, doing so from 1983-86. He ranks No. 5 on the school career rushing yardage list with 3,227 yards, scoring 25 touchdowns and averaging 5.2 yards per attempt. Dozier gained 1,002 yards as a freshman and tallied 811 yards and scored 10 touchdowns as a senior and one of the instrumental players on the Nittany Lions’ 12-0 squad.
Dozier will forever have a place in Penn State Football lore for scoring the game-winning touchdown on a six-yard fourth quarter run to lift the Nittany Lions past Miami, 14-10, in the 1987 Fiesta Bowl. A standout at Kempsville High School, he earned Most Valuable Offensive Player of the Game honors by rushing for 99 yards and making two catches for 21 yards in the thriller over the Hurricanes.
Dozier was selected by the Minnesota Vikings in the first round of the 1987 NFL Draft and played four seasons with the Vikings and the 1991 campaign with the Detroit Lions. A four-year letterwinner at Penn State, he also played baseball in the New York Mets’ farm system.
Engram is considered one of the greatest wide receivers in Penn State history. As a junior on Penn State’s undefeated Big Ten and Rose Bowl championship team of 1994, Engram won the first Biletnikoff Award that is given annually to the best receiver in college football. When he graduated in 1996, Engram held 12 team receiving records, and still holds the records for receiving yards in a career (3,026) and single season (1,084) and touchdown receptions in a game (four against Minnesota in 1993) , a season (13 in 1993) and career (31).
A second round draft choice of the Chicago Bears, Engram spent 15 years playing in the NFL with the Bears, Seattle Seahawks, Kansas City Chiefs and Cleveland Browns before his retirement.
Engram then turned to a coaching career in the NFL. He is currently the tight ends coach for the Baltimore Ravens and has been on the staff since 2014. He was previously the wide receivers coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers (2012-13) and an offensive assistant coach for the San Francisco 49ers (2011).
Wisniewski was a three-year starter at guard for the Nittany Lions who would go on to become an All-Pro lineman in the NFL. He was one of two sophomores to start on the 1986 National Championship team and he opened holes for two first-team All-America running backs, Blair Thomas (1987) and D.J. Dozier (1986). One of just four Penn State offensive linemen to earn a pair of first-team All-America honors, he was recognized in 1988 by the American Football Coaches (AFCA) and repeated All-America accolades from Sporting News. A 1988 team captain, Wisniewski is one of just two offensive linemen to earn Penn State’s team MVP honor since its creation in 1978.
From Westfield High School in Houston, Wisniewski was the first pick in the second round of the 1989 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys, who immediately traded his rights to the Los Angeles Raiders. Wisniewski was a mainstay for the Raiders from 1989-2001, starting the final 175 games of his career. He was selected to the Pro Bowl eight times, with six first-team All-Pro selections. He was elected a Raiders team captain seven times, was named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team for the 1990’s and to Oakland’s 50-Year All-Raider Team. Wisniewski missed only two of a possible 208 career games.
Wisniewski’s older brother, Leo, was a standout defensive lineman for the Nittany Lions from 1979-81. A nephew, Stefen, was a three-year starter on Penn State’s offensive line, earning first-team All-America honors in 2010. He became the first Nittany Lion to earn Academic All-America honors three times and was selected by the Raiders in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft. Stefen Wisniewski was a four-year starter with Oakland and currently plays for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
From Harrisburg, Killinger was a Walter Camp All-American at quarterback for the Nittany Lions in 1921. He coached at Dickinson (1922), Rensselaer (1927-32), Moravian (1933) and West Chester (1934-41, 45-59). Killinger is the winningest coach in West Chester history and is a member of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame. He died in 1988.
Stubblefield finished his career with an NCAA-record 325 receptions and ranked second in Big Ten history with 3,629 yards. He still owns the Big Ten record for career receptions, while his NCAA receptions record stood until 2011. Stubblefield also holds the Purdue record for receiving touchdowns in a season with 16 in 2004.
Stubblefield led the Big Ten in receptions twice during his four-year career and earned second-team All-Big Ten honors as a junior and first-team accolades as a senior. He was inducted into the Purdue Hall of Fame in 2015 and named to the Sun Bowl’s 75th anniversary team.
The 2021 College Football Hall of Fame Class Presented by ETT will be officially inducted during the 64th NFF Annual Awards Dinner on Dec. 7, 2021, at the New York Hilton Midtown. They will also be honored at their respective schools with an NFF Hall of Fame On-Campus Salute, presented by Fidelity Investments, during the 2021 season.
The criteria for Hall of Fame consideration include:
First and foremost, a player must have received First-Team All-America recognition by a selector that is recognized by the NCAA and utilized to comprise its consensus All-America teams.
A player becomes eligible for consideration by the Foundation’s Honors Courts 10 full seasons 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. Consideration may also be given for academic honors and whether 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 2021 ballot, the player must have played his last year in 1971 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 full seasons 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 football coach for a minimum of 10 years and coached at least 100 games with a .600 winning percentage.
Nominations may only be submitted by the current athletics director, head coach or sports information director (SID) of a potential candidate’s collegiate institution. Nominations may also be submitted by the president/executive director of a dues-paying chapter of the National Football Foundation.