KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Three former Tennessee football greats and the current Vols head coach are on the ballot for the 2022 College Football Hall of Fame.
The National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame released the ballot Wednesday. Seventy-eight players and seven coaches from the Football Bowl Subdivision and 99 players and 33 coaches from the divisional ranks are being considered this year for the honor.
Among the names were Tennessee defensive back Eric Berry and wide receivers Willie Gault and Larry Seivers. First-year coach Josh Heupel, a standout Heisman runner-up at Oklahoma, is also on the ballot as a player.
Berry was a two-time unanimous first-team All-American in 2008 and 2009. The Fairburn, Georgia, native was named the 2008 SEC Defensive Player of the Year and won the 2009 Jim Thorpe Award for the top defensive back in college football.
The three-time All-SEC selection is still the all-time conference leader in career interception return yards, 14 interceptions for 494 yards, and single-season interception return yards with 265 in 2008. Berry had 245 tackles during his three years Vols was also a standout in special teams.
Gault was a speedy special teams player for Tennessee. A 1982 first-team All-American, Gault set six SEC and 12 school punt/kickoff return records. He is still tied for the most touchdowns by kick return in a single season, 3 in 1980, in the NCAA.
Seivers was a two-time consensus, first-team All-American in 1975 and 1976. He is sixth in Tennessee history in career reception yardage, 1,924, and seventh in career receptions, 117.
Heupel was the 2002 Walter Camp Player of the Year and led the Sooners to the 2001 Orange Bowl.
Past Tennessee inductees into the College Football Hall of Fame include Peyton Manning, Reggie White, Gen. Robert Neyland, Doug Atkins and Phillip Fulmer.
Other notable nominees include: Shawn Alexander, Alabama; Marvin Harrison, Syracuse; Ken Dorsey, Miami; Sylvester Croom, Alabama; Tim Couch, Kentucky; Reggie Bush, USC; Champ Bailey, Georgia; LaVar Arrington, Penn State; Andrew Luck, Stanford; Marshawn Lynch, California; and Julius Peppers, North Carolina.
Players are eligible after 10 full seasons after their final year of intercollegiate football and 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. Only players from 1972 and thereafter are being considered.
A coach becomes eligible three full seasons after retirement or immediately following retirement provided they are at least 70 years of age. Active coaches become eligible at 75 years of age. A head football coach must have coached a minimum of 10 years and at least 100 games with a .600 winning percentage.
The more than 12,000 NFF members and current Hall of Famers will vote before the NFF’s Honors Courts will deliberate and select the class. The FBS Honors Court is chaired by College Football Hall of Famer Archie Griffin from Ohio State.
“Having a ballot and a voice in the selection of the College Football Hall of Fame inductees is one of the most cherished NFF member benefits,” NFF Chairman Archie Manning, a 1989 Hall of Fame inductee from Mississippi, said. “There is no group more knowledgeable or passionate about college football than our membership, and the tradition of the ballot helps us engage them in the lofty responsibility of selecting those who have reached the pinnacle of achievement in our sport.”
The announcement of the 2022 College Football Hall of Fame Class will be made in early 2022.