The 18 players chosen for the College Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2022 will be revealed on Monday, the National Football Foundation announced last week.
The 78-player NCAA FBS portion of the College Football Hall of Fame Class of 2022 ballot included 13 former SEC stars, among them former Alabama standouts Shaun Alexander and Sylvester Croom.
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Any SEC players tabbed for the Class of 2022 would join 97 former stars from the conference already enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame.
The SEC players on the Class of 2022 ballot included:
Shaun Alexander, Alabama, running back, 1996-99: Alexander was the SEC Player of the Year for the 1999 season as he ran for 1,383 yards and 19 touchdowns and scored 144 points – all league-leading figures. The performance earned Alexander a spot on the American Football Coaches Association’s All-American team. He completed his Alabama career as the Crimson Tide’s career leader with 3,565 rushing yards and 41 rushing touchdowns.
Champ Bailey, Georgia, cornerback, 1996-98: Bailey won the Bronko Nagurski Award as the nation’s best defensive player for the 1998 season, but he did more than provide stellar play in the secondary for the Bulldogs. Bailey also caught 47 passes for 744 yards and five touchdowns as a wide receiver and returned kickoffs and punts that season, when he finished seventh in the Heisman Trophy voting. Bailey was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2019.
Eric Berry, Tennessee, safety, 2007-09: Berry received unanimous All-American recognition for the 2008 and 2009 seasons. He won the SEC Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2008 and the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation’s best defensive back in 2009. Berry holds the SEC records for career interception-return yards with 481 and single-season interception-return yards with 265 in 2008. Berry had seven of his 14 career interceptions in 2008.
Brandon Burlsworth, Arkansas, guard, 1995-98: Burlsworth was a walk-on who was known more for his thick, black glasses and resemblance to comedian Drew Carey, but he ended up starting 34 consecutive games for the Razorbacks and playing a key role for their 1998 Western Division title team. Burlsworth died in a traffic accident 11 days after being picked in the third round of the 1999 NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts. The Burlsworth Trophy has been given annually since 2010 to the outstanding NCAA FBS player who began his career as a walk-on.
Tim Couch, Kentucky, quarterback, 1996-98: As a senior, Couch set SEC records for pass completions with 400, passing yards with 4,275, completion percentage at .723 and yards of total offense at 4,151. He became the first SEC player with more than 4,000 yards of total offense in a season. Couch finished fourth in the 1998 Heisman Trophy balloting and was the first player selected in the 1999 NFL Draft.
Sylvester Croom, Alabama, center, 1972-74: During Croom’s time at Alabama, the Crimson Tide lost one regular-season game (by one point) and won three SEC championships. The Tuscaloosa native won the SEC’s Jacobs Blocking Trophy in 1974, when he was the American Football Coaches Association’s All-American center. In 2004, Croom became the first African American head football coach in SEC history when he took the top post at Mississippi State, and he guided the Bulldogs for five seasons.
Brad Culpepper, Florida, defensive tackle, 1988-91: A consensus All-American in 1991, Culpepper was a team captain for Florida’s SEC championship squad that season. In addition to his playing honors, Culpepper also received the Campbell Trophy as college football’s top scholar-athlete. His 47.5 tackles for loss are still a career record for Florida defensive linemen.
Kevin Faulk, LSU, running back, 1995-98: Faulk is the SEC’s leader in career all-purpose yards with 6,833 – 4,557 rushing, 600 receiving, 832 punt-return and 844 kickoff-return yards. That’s 952 more all-purpose yards than any other player in SEC history. When Faulk finished his college career, his 53 touchdowns were the most in SEC history.
Willie Gault, Tennessee, wide receiver, 1979-82: Gault’s receiving totals won’t get him into the Hall of Fame. He caught 89 passes for 1,482 yards and 10 touchdowns at Tennessee, with 50 of the receptions coming in his senior season. But Gault made a record-setting mark as a kickoff and punt returner, setting six SEC records in those categories while with the Volunteers. In 1980, he tied the NCAA record for most touchdowns by kickoff return in a single season with three.
Garrison Hearst, Georgia, running back, 1990-92: Hearst won the SEC Player of the Year Award and the Doak Walker Award as the nation’s best running back in 1992, when he ran for 1,547 yards and 19 touchdowns and finished third in the voting for the Heisman Trophy. His 126 points led the nation that season, and he earned unanimous All-American recognition.
Bradie James, LSU, linebacker, 1999-2002: After helping LSU win the SEC championship in 2001, James earned first-team All-American recognition from The Sporting News and American Football Coaches Association in 2002. He completed his career with 418 tackles, which ranked second on LSU’s career list.
Errict Rhett, Florida, running back, 1989-93: The SEC’s leading rusher in 1991 and 1993, Rhett holds the Florida record for career rushing yards with 4,163. During his final season with the Gators, Rhett became the first player in NCAA FBS history with at least 4,000 rushing yards and 140 receptions in his career.
Larry Seivers, Tennessee, wide receiver, 1974-76: Seivers is among the 29 SEC players who have been consensus All-Americans more than once. Seivers led the SEC in receiving in 1975 and 1976, catching 41 passes for a league-leading 840 yards in 1975 and making 51 catches for 737 yards in 1976. When he left Tennessee, he was the Volunteers’ all-time leader in receptions and receiving yards.
Three coaches have been chosen for the College Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2022. Among the seven coaches on the Class of 2022 ballot was Gary Pinkel, who led Missouri in the Tigers’ first four seasons as a member of the SEC.
Also on the player ballot were Arkansas defensive tackle Dan Hampton, Missouri wide receiver Jeremy Maclin and Texas A&M cornerback Kevin Smith. Hampton, Maclin and Smith played before their schools became members of the SEC.
To be considered for the College Football Hall of Fame today, a player must have been a first-team All-American selection by one of the organizations that the NCAA uses to compile its annual consensus All-American team.
Players aren’t considered for the College Football Hall of Fame until 10 years after their final season. They also aren’t considered while they are active NFL players.
Players aren’t considered if their college careers ended more than 50 years ago either. Those players still can be considered for the College Football Hall of Fame, but their qualifications are examined by the Football Bowl Subdivision Honors Review Committee, bypassing the ballot.
Players on the College Football Hall of Fame ballot are nominated by athletic directors, head coaches and sports-information directors at National Football Foundation-member schools.
The FBS nominees are sorted geographically for eight District Screening Committees. The committee members vote on which players will represent their region on the ballot. Players who received significant support in the final voting in the previous year but did not make the College Football Hall of Fame also are held over on the ballot automatically.
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Mark Inabinett is a sports reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter at @AMarkG1.
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