Former Lion Mike Utley entering College Football Hall of Fame
Scottsdale, Ariz. — Former Washington State offensive lineman Mike Utley, who suffered a spinal cord injury while playing for the Lions and was paralyzed, is one of 14 players to be selected for induction for the College Football Hall of Fame.
Florida State’s Derrick Brooks, Iowa State’s Troy Davis and Purdue’s Rod Woodson also join this year’s class.
The latest group, which will be inducted in December, was announced Friday by the National Football Foundation.
The rest of the class includes LSU’s Bert Jones, UNLV’s Randall Cunningham, Ohio State’s Tom Cousineau, North Carolina’s William Fuller, Wisconsin’s Tim Krumrie, Harvard’s Pat McInally, Colorado’s Herb Orvis, Georgia’s Scott Woerner, Ashland’s Bill Royce and Nebraska Omaha’s Marlin Briscoe.
Cunningham and McInally attended a news conference at the media hotel for the College Football Playoff in Scottsdale, Arizona. Cunningham was a star quarterback at UNLV and McInally was a record-setting receiver for the Crimson, but both also were excellent punters.
“Like I’ve been saying for a long time, the best athletes in football are punters, and they play other positions also,” McInally said. “So don’t specialize too young.”
The two new Hall of Fame coaches are Bill Bowles of New Hampshire and Frank Girardi of Lycoming (Pa.).
Utley was a three-time All-Pac-10 selection and an All-American in 1988 with the Cougars, when he was named team MVP. He was drafted by the Lions in 1989. On Nov. 17, 1991, he fractured three vertebrae during a game against the Los Angeles Rams at the Silverdome. As he was taken off the field on a stretcher, he famously flashed a thumbs-up to the crowd. The injury left him paralyzed and he remains in a wheelchair.
“This is very overwhelming,” Utley said in a statement released by the school. “Washington State University and head coach Jim Walden gave me an opportunity and I told him I would give 100 percent of myself. Playing for the Cougars was a wonderful experience and hopefully I’ve been able to pay it forward.”
Utley established the Mike Utley Foundation in 1992, which provides research, rehab and education for those living with spinal cord injuries and financially supports rehabilitation projects.
A look at the other new Hall of Famers:
* Briscoe, known as the Magician, set 22 school records as a quarterback for the Mavericks from 1964-67.
* Brooks was a two-time All-America linebacker and helped Florida State win its first national championship in 1993.
* Cousineau is the 25th Ohio State player to be selected for the Hall of Fame. The star linebacker is second in school history with 569 tackles from 1975-78.
* Cunningham became the career passing and punting leader at UNLV from 1982-84.
* Davis is the only player in FBS history to reach 2,000 yards rushing in a season twice. He was a Heisman Trophy finalists for the Cyclones in both 1995 and 1996.
* Fuller played defensive tackle from 1981-83 and still owns the school record with 57 tackles for loss.
* Jones finished fourth in the Heisman voting for LSU in 1972 and finished his career as the school leader in yards passing and touchdown passes.
* Krumrie started all 46 games of his career at defensive line for Wisconsin from 1979-82 and still holds the school record with 276 career solo tackles.
* McInally finished his career at Harvard in 1974 as the school’s career leader in touchdowns, receptions and receiving yards. Also, served as the team’s punter.
* Orvis played defensive end for Colorado from 1969-71 and finished his career as the schools’ career leader in sacks with 20.
* Royce is one of the most decorated defensive players in Division II history. He set a school record in 1993 with 20.5 sacks.
* Woerner helped Georgia to a perfect season and national championship in 1980 and had two interceptions in the Bulldogs’ Sugar Bowl victory against Notre Dame to seal the title.
* Woodson, a three-time All-Big Ten selection from 1984-86, started all 45 games of his career at Purdue. He finished his career with 444 tackles and 11 interceptions.
* Bowles is the winningest coach in the history of the Yankee Conference/Atlantic 10 with a record of 175-106-5 from 1972-98 for New Hampshire.
* Girardi ranks 16th in NCAA history in wins across all Divisions with 257 during his 36 years at Lycoming (1972-2007) in Pennsylvania.