Posted by Adam Jacobi
This year's Hall of Fame ballot is out, and like always, it's huge; there are 79 players and nine coaches up for voting, and only a small fraction of those 88 men will be voted in this year. The first-balloters include Tommie Frazier and Derrick Thomas, and both have strong credentials for immediate induction.
And yet, upon even a cursory glance at the list of candidates (PDF), it's readily apparent that there are a lot of guys on this list who not only deserve to be voted in, but probably deserved (and did not receive) first-ballot induction themselves. We found six very worthy players, and we'd like you all to vote on which one is most deserving of joining the greats. And yes, it's worth noting that this is a college football-only Hall of Fame, and there are some guys with long, fantastic NFL careers ... but they were all amazing in college football too! Choose wisely at our Facebook page, and if you need a refresher on any of the six men involved, a quick recap is below.
Brian Bosworth (LB, Oklahoma, '84-'86): Bosworth was the face of college football in the mid-'80s -- a brash, loud, cocky self-promoter who played like a laser-guided tornado. Oklahoma gave up fewer than 10 points per game during the three years Bosworth played in Norman, including an absurd 6.75 ppg in 1986 and a comparatively pedestrian 8.6 ppg in the Sooners' national championship 1985 season. His NFL career quickly flamed out with the Seahawks, as did a fledgling acting career, but for three magical years at OU, Bosworth was on top of the world.
Eric Dickerson (RB, Southern Methodist, '79-'82): 30 years ago, the "Pony Express" was the hottest show in a conference full of them: the SWC. Backfield mates Dickerson and Craig James lit up opposing defenses in their junior and senior seasons, but Dickerson was clearly the better rusher of the two. He would finish with over 1,400 yards rushing and 19 touchdowns his junior year, and he topped 1,600 yards and finished third in Heisman voting as a senior in 1982. Again, all this while splitting carries. Of course, SMU was fraught with illegal behavior that would eventually bring a death sentence down on the program, but the accomplishments of Dickerson and his teammates stay undisturbed in the record books, as they ought to be.
Eddie George (RB, Ohio State, '92-'95): It would be a shame if Eddie George were being punished for relatively light workloads during his first two seasons (including a nightmarish two-fumble 18-16 loss to Illinois as a freshman), because by his senior year, George was one of the most unstoppable tailbacks in the post-Barry Sanders era of college football. George beat out the aforementioned Tommie Frazier for the 1995 Heisman Trophy after a 1,927-yard, 24-touchdown senior season in which George topped 100 rushing yards in every contest.
Russell Maryland (DT, Miami, '86-'90): If something about Nick Fairley's 2010 season with Auburn seemed a bit familiar, it's probably thanks to Russell Maryland's career with the 'Canes; like Fairley, Maryland was a 6'1" DT with freakish disruption and pursuit skills. They've also both got rings as anchors of their respective defensive lines: Fairley last year, and Maryland in '89 (he also won a championship as a reserve in '87). As for Maryland's senior year, he racked up 96 tackles and 10.5 sacks en route to the Outland Trophy and the top spot in the NFL draft.
Jonathan Ogden (OT, UCLA, '92-'95): Ogden was one of the best NFL tackles of his generation, but he was also utterly outstanding at UCLA too, picking up the Outland Award and unanimous first-team All-American decorations his senior year. He gave up just two sacks in his last two years with the Bruins, and more importantly set a new standard for franchise left tackles. Ogden played at a legitimate 6'8", and anywhere from 310 to 365 pounds (though really in the reverse order; he showed up to campus over 350 pounds, but was down to a svelte 318 by the time the NFL combine rolled around). With that unbelievable size came even more freakish athleticism, as Ogden had faster feet than players 50 pounds lighter than him. Think of the high-profile left tackles that have come out of college football since Ogden was drafted: aside from maybe Orlando Pace, the common quality of such players as Robert Gallery, Jake Long, or Joe Thomas is that they may have been good, but they're no Jonathan Ogden.
Deion Sanders (CB, FSU, 1985-1988): If Bosworth owned the mid-'80s in college football, Neon Deion was the immediate successor to the Boz's throne, electrifying college football with his other-worldly speed, coverage, and kick return ability. Everything Sanders did was larger than life: his play on the field, his cocky personality, his short-lived rap career, everything (except the tackling, of course). At the end of the day, though, it's hard to argue with his results: two-time consensus first-team All-American and third-team All-American as a senior at cornerback, the FSU career punt return yardage record, and a retired jersey number (at a powerhouse program, no less) seven years later.
So who's it going to be? VOTE NOW at our Facebook page!