Former Vols Gault, Wilson, Majors among finalists for 2021 College Football Hall of Fame class

Orange & White Nation

FILE – A Tennessee cheerleader runs with a flag before the field before an NCAA college football game against Vanderbilt Saturday, Nov. 25, 2017, in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

IRVING, Texas – A trio of former Tennessee Vols are on the ballot for the 2021 College Football Hall of Fame.

The full list of candidates includes 78 players and seven coaches from the Football Bowl Subdivision and 99 players and 33 coaches from the divisional ranks. The VFLs among them include defensive back/punter Bobby Majors, kick returner/wide receiver Willie Gault and linebacker Al Wilson.

Majors, the younger brother of legendary Vol halfback and coach Johnny Majors, was an All-American in his own right earning the first-team honors in 1971. Bobby led the Vols to wins in the 1971 Sugar Bowl and 1972 Liberty Bowl and was a two-time, first-team All-Southeastern Conference selection.

Bobby Majors also holds the SEC and school record for most interceptions in a season with 10 (1971). He also set records for career punt returns and career punt return yardage while in Knoxville. He went on to play one season in the NFL with the Cleveland Browns.

Arguably one of the best return men in Tennessee history, Willie Gault was a 1982 first team All-American and set six conference and 12 school punt/kickoff return records. In 1980 Gault tied the NCAA record for most touchdowns by kick return in a single season, 3.

Gault was also a standout on the track and qualified for the 1980 USA Olympic team. However, the USA would boycott the 1980 Moscow Games.

Gault was drafted in the first round of the 1983 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears and two years later to went with Chicago Super Bowl XX. The Bears won 46-10 over the New England Patriots. Gault led the team in receiving yards that year and was partly responsible for the “Super Bowl Shuffle.”

Al Wilson was a defensive force and part of the dominant Vols defenses of the late-1990s led by coordinator John Chavis.

A 1998 consensus first team All-Amercian, Wilson led the Vols to wins over Florida, Alabama, Arkansas and Syracuse on the way to the inaugural BCS National Championship.

He was named to the All-SEC teams in 1997 and 1998 and lost just three conference games in his career.

“It’s an enormous honor to just be on the College Football Hall of Fame ballot considering more than 5.4 million people have played college football and only 1,027 players have been inducted,” National Football Foundation President and CEO Steve Hatchell said. “The Hall’s requirement of being a First-Team All-American creates a much smaller pool of about 1,500 individuals who are even eligible.

“Being in today’s elite group means an individual is truly among the greatest to have ever played the game.”

More than 12,000 NFF members and current Hall of Famers will have their votes sent to the NFF’s Honors Courts, which will deliberate and select the class. The FBS Honors Court, chaired by NFF Board Member and College Football Hall of Famer Archie Griffin from Ohio State, and the Divisional Honors Court, chaired by former Marshall head coach, longtime athletics director and NFF Board Member Jack Lengyel, include a pool of athletic administrators, Hall of Famers and members of the media.

“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 2021 College Football Hall of Fame Class will be made in early 2021, with specific details to be announced in the future.

The official induction ceremony will take place Dec. 7, 2021, at the New York Hilton Midtown. They will also be honored at their respective schools during the 2021 season.

The criteria for Hall of Fame consideration include:

  • First-Team All-America recognition by a selector that is recognized by the NCAA and utilized to comprise its consensus All-America teams
  • A player becomes eligible for consideration by the Foundation’s Honors Courts 10 full seasons after his final year of intercollegiate football played.
  • While each nominee’s football achievements in college are of prime consideration, his post-football record as a citizen is also weighed. Consideration may also be given for academic honors and whether the candidate earned a college degree.
  • Players must have played their last year of intercollegiate football within the last 50 years.
  • Players who are playing professionally and coaches who are coaching on the professional level are not eligible until after they retire.
  • A coach becomes eligible three full seasons after retirement or immediately following retirement provided he is at least 70 years of age. Active coaches become eligible at 75 years of age. He must have been a head football coach for a minimum of 10 years and coached at least 100 games with a .600 winning percentage.
  • Nominations may only be submitted by the current athletics director, head coach or sports information director of a potential candidate’s collegiate institution. Nominations may also be submitted by the president/executive director of a dues-paying chapter of the National Football Foundation.
  • Players who do not comply with the 50-year rule may still be eligible for consideration by the Football Bowl Subdivision and Divisional Veterans Committees. Veterans Committee candidates must still meet First Team All-America requirement.

Other players on the ballot this year include Champ Bailey from Georgia, Julius Peppers from North Carolina, Tim Couch from Kentucky, Carson Palmer from Southern California, Tony Gonzalez from California and Ray Lewis from Miami. Coaches include Gary Pinkel, Bob Stoops and Billy Jack Murphy of Memphis.

Murphy is the winningest coach in Memphis history and took the Tigers to their first bowl game. He is also a member the Tennessee, Mississippi State, and Memphis halls of fame.

Four Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders are on the divisional ballot:

Joe Campbell, Middle Tennessee State-Running Back-Two-time First Team All-America selection (1990-91)…A three-time First Team All-Conference pick, he was named OVC Player of the Year in 1990…Led the team in rushing all four years.

Don Griffin, Middle Tennessee State-Safety-1985 First Team All-American and Ohio Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Year…Three-time First Team All-Conference selection…Recorded 210 tackles, 13 career interceptions, and held school record for interceptions in a game (3).

Steve McAdoo, Middle Tennessee State-Offensive Lineman-Two-time First Team All-America selection (1991-92)…Earned Third Team All-America honors by the Associated Press in 1990…Three-time First Team All-Conference pick.

Charles Murphy-Middle Tennessee State (1947-68)-Captured seven Volunteer State Athletic Conference Championships…Won seven Ohio Valley Conference Championships…Named Ohio Valley Conference Coach of the Year in 1965. 


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