When the Class of 2010 is inducted into College Football Hall of Fame in two weeks at South Bend., Ind, it will not only bear a distinct West Virginia flavor, but also a few personal favorites of my own.
With WVU quarterback Major Harris (1987-89), Marshall receiver/kick returner Troy Brown (1991-92) and Pineville, W.Va. native Curt Warner, who played at Penn State (1979-82), the Mountain State will be well represented, while I personally will be happy with the induction of Ohio State linebacker Chris Spielman (1984-87) as well as several others who I didn't know as college players, but followed their careers as pros.
Harris was the first player in NCAA history to rush for more than 2,000 yards and pass for more than 5,000 in a career. His sophomore season, he led WVU to an undefeated season and a matchup versus Notre Dame for the national championship in the 1988 Fiesta Bowl. As a junior, Harris earned first-team All-America honors, finishing third in the Heisman Trophy voting.
A key part of Marshall's 1992 Division I-AA national championship team, Brown was a dual threat as a receiver and kick returner. His senior year, he was a first-team All-American and finished his career with 139 receptions for 2,746 yards and 24 touchdowns, plus 1,825 return yards and four TDs on special teams. Brown went on to play 14 years in the NFL with the New England Patriots,winning three Super Bowls and becoming the franchise's all-time leading receiver (557) and punt returner (252).
Warner, a 1981 All-American, finished his career at Penn State with 11 season, 14 bowl and 42 school records. He led the Nittany Lions to the 1982 national championship, contributing 1,041 rushing yards and eight touchdowns that season. At Penn State, he set records for career rushing yardage (3,398), career all-purpose yardage (4,982) and 100-yard rushing games (18). In the NFL, Warner was a four-time All-Pro selection in his seven seasons with the Seattle Seahawks.
Spielman, the 1987 Lombardi Award winner, earned back-to-back first-team All-America honors, twice leading the Buckeyes in tackles and graduating as the school's all-time leader in solo tackles (283). Spielman finished his career at OSU with 546 tackles, eight sacks and 11 interceptions. In Spielman's eight NFL seasons with Detroit, he became the first Lions player ever to register 1,000 career tackles and was named to the Pro Bowl six times.
Milt Morin, a two-time All-America tight end at Massachusetts (1963-65), finished his collegiate career with a then-school record 1,151 receiving yards. But I got to know him as a sure-handed three-time Pro Bowler for 10 years with my favorite NFL team, the Cleveland Browns, where he ranked in the franchise's top 10 in receiving yards (4,208) and receptions (271) upon retirement.
Emerson Boozer, Maryland Eastern Shore halfback (1962-65), was a two-time first-team All-American who amassed 2,537 yards rushing, for a remarkable 6.78 yards per carry, and 22 touchdowns in his career. But for me, he will be fondly remembered by this Joe Namath fan as one of the catalysts in the New York Jets' 16-9 Super Bowl III defeat of the heavily-favored Baltimore Colts in 1969.
Contact Steve Hemmelgarn at firstname.lastname@example.org