- Dave Wilson is an editor for ESPN.com since 2010. He previously worked at The Dallas Morning News, San Diego Union-Tribune and Las Vegas Sun.
Former Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, Heisman Trophy winner Carson Palmer of USC, Clemson running back C.J. Spiller and Eastern Illinois star Tony Romo headline the 2021 College Football Hall of Fame class announced Monday.
Kansas State’s Darren Sproles, who still holds 21 school and Big 12 records, and Tennessee linebacker Al Wilson, a team captain and the only All-American on the 13-0 Vols team that won the 1998 BCS National Championship, were also selected.
The 11 players and two coaches in the 2021 class were selected from a national ballot of 78 players and seven coaches from the FBS and 99 players and 33 coaches from the divisional ranks.
The list includes five players who were conference players of the year: North Carolina tackle Harris Barton, Miami linebacker Dan Morgan, Palmer, Spiller and Romo, who earned the honor three times.
Three players — Arizona State safety David Fulcher, Texas defensive tackle Kenneth Sims and Notre Dame tackle Aaron Taylor — were two-time first-team All-Americans.
Both coaches selected (Stoops and Florida A&M’s Rudy Hubbard) led their teams to national championships. Hubbard played running back at Ohio State and was the first African American assistant coach in Buckeyes history under Woody Hayes before taking over as head coach at Florida A&M, where he became the only HBCU coach to win a I-AA (now FCS) title in 1978. He also won two Black college football national championships.
Stoops, who coached at Oklahoma from 1999 to 2016, went 190-48, averaged 10.5 wins per season and won 10 Big 12 titles, and his 2000 team won a BCS National Championship in just his second season. He never had a losing season, coached 38 first team All-Americans and went to a bowl game in each of his 18 years.
Stoops played at Iowa for Hall of Fame coach Hayden Fry. One of his college teammates, defensive end Andre Tippett, a 1981 All-American, was also announced as a member of this year’s class.
Palmer, the first USC quarterback to win the Heisman, finished his career as the Trojans’ all-time leader in career passing yards (11,818), which was also a Pac-10 record. He still ranks second at USC and sixth in conference history.
In 2009, Spiller was a unanimous first-team All-America selection as a kick returner and a second-team selection at running back by Walter Camp, making him the first player in the organization’s history to earn All-America honors at two positions in the same season. The ACC Player of the Year that season, Spiller set single-season conference and school records with 2,680 all-purpose yards. He holds the NCAA record with seven career kickoff returns for touchdowns and is third in FBS history with 7,588 career all-purpose yards.
Romo, who became the first three-time player of the year in Ohio Valley Conference history, won the 2002 Walter Payton Award at Eastern Illinois as the most outstanding player in the FCS.
The 2021 class will officially be inducted during the National Football Foundation awards dinner on Dec. 7 alongside the 2020 class after last year’s event was canceled due to COVID-19.
The full class:
Harris Barton, OT, North Carolina (1983-86)
David Fulcher, DB, Arizona State (1983-85)
Dan Morgan, LB, Miami (1997-2000)
Carson Palmer, QB, USC (1998-2002)
Tony Romo, QB, Eastern Illinois (1999-2002)
Kenneth Sims, DT, Texas (1978-81)
C.J. Spiller, RB/KR, Clemson (2006-09)
Darren Sproles, RB, Kansas State (2001-04)
Aaron Taylor, OT, Notre Dame (1990-93)
Andre Tippett, DE, Iowa (1979-81)
Al Wilson, LB, Tennessee (1995-98)
Rudy Hubbard, 83-48-3 (63.1%), Florida A&M (1974-85)
Bob Stoops, 190-48-0 (79.8%), Oklahoma (1999-2016)
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