The National Football Foundation (NFF) & College Hall of Fame announced today the names on the 2017 ballot for induction into the College Football Hall of Fame. For the sixth year, former Temple Owls' running back Paul Palmer is among the 81 players and coaches from the Football Bowl Subdivision.
After ranking among the NCAA leaders in rushing and all-purpose yards as a junior, Palmer led the nation in 1986 in rushing yards (1,866), rushing yards per game (169.6) and all-purpose yards (2,633) as a senior and was a unanimous first-team All-American. Named 1986 ECAC Player of the Year and runner-up for the Heisman Trophy, Palmer's record setting season placed him among the NCAA all-time leaders in all-purpose yards and all-purpose yards per game (239.4). In an October 11 game against East Carolina, he rushed for 349 yards and tied the record for all-purpose yards with 417. In his next three games he rushed for 239, 187, and 212 yards setting NCAA marks for rushing yards in consecutive games, three consecutive games and four straight contests.
Overall, Palmer set 23 school records and remains the Owls' career leader in rushing attempts (935), rushing yards (4,895), 100-yard rushing games (21), 200-yard rushing games (6), and all-purpose yards (6,613). He left the college ranks with the sixth highest total for career rushing yards, a mark that still places him in the top 30 of all-time. His career all-purpose yards ranked fourth best in NCAA history behind only Napoleon McCallum, Darrin Nelson, and Tony Dorsett and still remain ranked in the Top 25. Palmer went on to play in the NFL for the Kansas City Chiefs, Dallas Cowboys, and Detroit Lions and earned All-NFL honors as a return man his rookie year. He now serves as the radio color analyst for Owls football games.
"It is such a thrill and an honor to be on the ballot for the College Football Hall of Fame once again," said Palmer. "Temple accomplished a lot of 'firsts' in the past year. Maybe now's the time for the university's first player to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Perhaps that can open the door for others such as John Rienstra, Steve Joachim, and Bill Singletary."
Palmer was referring to the 2015 Temple Football season in which the Owls became ranked for the first time in 36 years and beat in-state rival Penn State for the first time in 74 seasons. While Temple boasts three coaches inside the Hall – Glenn "Pop" Warner, Ray Morrison, and Wayne Hardin
– there has yet to be a former Owl player selected.
Of the 5.12 million individuals who have played college football since Princeton first battled Rutgers on Nov. 6, 1869, only 977 players, including the 2016 class, have earned induction into the College Football Hall of Fame, or less than two ten-thousandths (.0002) of one percent of those who have played the game during the past 147 years. From the coaching ranks, 211 individuals have achieved Hall of Fame distinction.
As part of a recent tradition, the NFF has partnered with the College Football Playoff (CFP) to announce the new College Football Hall of Fame class the Friday before the National Championship in the host city. The 2017 College Football Hall of Fame Class will be announced on Jan. 6, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. They will be inducted Dec. 5, 2017 at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City and subsequently immortalized at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta.
"It's an enormous honor to just be on the ballot when you think that more than 5.12 million people have played college football," said NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell
. "The Hall's requirement of being a First-Team All-American creates a much smaller pool of only 1,500 individuals who are even eligible to be on the ballot, so being in today's elite group means an individual is truly among the greatest to ever have played the game, and we are proud to announce their names. We look forward to announcing the 2017 Hall of Fame Class on the Friday before the College Football Playoff National Championship in Tampa."
The 2017 ballot includes 75 players and six coaches from the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision and 95 players and 29 coaches from the NCAA divisional and NAIA ranks. The ballot will be emailed this week to the more than 12,000 NFF members and current Hall of Famers whose votes will be tabulated and submitted to the NFF's Honors Court, which deliberates and selects the class.
To be eligible for the ballot, players must have been named a First Team All-American by a major/national selector as recognized and utilized by the NCAA for their consensus All-America teams; played their last year of intercollegiate football at least 10 years prior; played within the last 50 years and cannot be currently playing professional football.
Once nominated for consideration, all player candidates are submitted to one of eight District Screening Committees, depending on their school's geographic location, which conducts a vote to determine who will appear on the ballot and represent their respective districts. Each year, approximately 15 candidates, who are not selected for the Hall of Fame, will be named automatic holdovers and will bypass the district screening process and automatically appear on the ballot the following year. Additionally, the Veterans Committee may make recommendations to the Honors Court for exceptions that allow for the induction of players who played more than 50 years ago.