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College Football Hall of Fame Nominees: Skill Position Players

Eight players covering a range of eras; TDs galore

Continuing our look at B1G (adjacent) CFB HOF nominees, today we’ve got the eight skill position players who were nominated this year. To spice things up (i.e., give the reader a chance to make fun of me), I’ll rank the nominees at WR and RB, and render judgment on each nominee.


Antwaan Randle El, Indiana: The Hoosiers went 16-28 in Randle El’s four years in Bloomington and he completed fewer than 50% of his passes, yet he’s still easily worthy of an HOF spot. You probably already know why: 3,895 yards rushing and 44 rushing TD’s. Randle El debuted in ‘98 (B1G frosh of year) and was quickly overshadowed nationally by Michael Vick, but Randle El accumulated more passing AND more rushing yard in both seasons (1999, 2000) they were both in college. His signature performance was probably his 200 (yds passing)/200 (yds rushing) day against Minnesota in 2000.

A difficult non-conference schedule in ‘01 cost Indiana a chance at a bowl bid despite a 4-4 performance in conference play, and Randle El ended up 36 yards shy of a second 1,000 yard rushing season. But anybody who caught him live—as I did when Indiana hung 62 on UW in Camp was traumatizing—can attest to how electric he was (as would the 7 return TD’s in his NFL career).

Seriously, watch these highlights:

Running Back

4) D.J. Dozier, Penn State: Dozier played for PSU from ‘83-’86, leading the Nittany Lions in rushing each season (the only PSU player to ever do that). His best season was his freshman year where he registered 1,002 yards and averaged 5.8 ypc. However he’s best know for being on the 1986 national title team for Penn State, especially for scoring the game-winning TD vs. heavily favored Miami in the Fiesta Bowl. On a night where PSU only completed five passes for 53 yards, Dozier was still able to gain 99 yards on 20 carries.

3) Vaughn Dunbar, Indiana: A bit overshadowed as he followed in the footsteps of Anthony Thompson, Dunbar’s 1,805 yards rushing in 1991 actually bested Thompson’s single-season record (since broken). Dunbar was only in Bloomington for two years, but that was enough time to rack up more than 3,000 yards (on more than 600 carries!) and 25 TDs. He probably doesn’t have much of a shot at the HOF, but he deserved his All-American nod in ‘91.

2) Ki-Jana Carter, Penn State: Carter was the most talented and jaw-dropping of the four RBs, but the guy at #1 gets the nod based on overall productivity. That said, Carter is a no-brainer for the CFB HOF. Carter was PSU’s leading rusher each of their first two seasons in the B1G. 155 carries for 1,026 yards (1993) is a pretty nice season, but just window dressing for ‘94. Leading the way on one of the best offenses college football has ever seen, Carter gained 1,539 yards on only 198 carries (7.8 ypc) and scored 23 TDs (5 of them in the season finale vs. Michigan State, George Perles’ last as HC). Sure, all the talent around him made his job easier, but nobody blinked when he went #1 overall in the ‘95 draft (back when RBs weren’t viewed the way they are now). Carter was the real deal. Fast, and quick, with great cutting ability and more power than you’d guess (he was 5’ 10”, 220 lbs.!). The opening play from scrimmage in the 1995 Rose Bowl gave you a taste of each facet:

1) Montee Ball, Wisconsin: Keenan Reynolds has subsequently broken his career rushing TD record, and his single-season total TD record (39) came in 14 games while Barry Sanders scored 37 in 12 games. Still, Ball was a machine on the best offenses in UW history. In 2010, his 996 yards rushing was only good for third on the Badgers. After John Clay moved on, Ball unleased back-to-back seasons of 1,923 and 1,830 yards rushing despite sharing the backfield with James White. The 2011 season was truly special (1,923 yds, 6.3 ypc, 39 total TDs), but gaining 1,830 yds in 2012 on a team that went 8-6 and was plagued by OL troubles all year was equally impressive. And then there’s this. In the five biggest games of his career (2 B1G title games, 3 Rose Bowls), Ball racked up 635 yards rushing (700 yards from scrimmage), and 10 TDs, rushing for at least 100 yards and a TD in each game, highlighted by 21 carries for 202 yards and 3 TDs (and one hellacious stiff arm, see below) against Nebraska in the 2012 B1G title game.

Wide Receiver

2) Larry Burton, Purdue: You probably haven’t heard of Burton, and he’s not making the Hall of Fame. However, he was a 1st team All-American in 1974, gaining 702 yards on only 38 catches (18.5 ypr) on a pedestrian Boilermaker team (4-6-1). It was impressive enough that he went #7 overall in the 1975 NFL draft, the first B1G player to come off the board.

1) Taylor Stubblefield, Purdue: Stubblefield probably won’t get the call, and he’s a marginal case given his career numbers are pretty much indistinguishable from teammates John Standeford and Dorien Bryant. That said, he was consistent at a high level in his time in West Lafayette, leading the team in receiving yards as a freshman and senior, and contributing at least 70 receptions and 750 yards each yard of his career, capped by an 89-1095-16 line as senior. He was an All-American in 2004, and ended his career as the NCAA all-time receptions leader (and is still #6 almost 20 years later), so he has some accomplishments to hang his candidacy on.

Also, would it please you to see Notre Dame give up a 97 yard TD pass? I thought so:

Tight End

Dallas Clark, Iowa: Clark’s not getting in any time soon, most likely, so he’ll have to settle for having the best pro career of this group. Clark didn’t play TE until his junior year, but made up for lost time by earning All-B1G honors in ‘01 and ‘02, and being named unanimous 1st-team All-American in 2002 as a part of Iowa’s 11-2/8-0 co-B1G championship team (with national champion Ohio State). He secured his place in Hawkeye lore with his performance against Purdue in 2002. In a 31-28 win, the Hawkeyes relied on two special teams TDs and two Clark TD receptions, the first a 95 yarder (still a school record) late in the third; the second a seven yard catch on 4th and goal with under two minutes to play and Iowa trailing 28-24. [Incidentally, Stubblefield went 13-149 in this game.]