Penn State's Collins, Wisniewski on College Hall of Fame ballot
Two players who were instrumental in helping Penn State post undefeated and championship seasons are among the candidates under consideration for the National Football Foundation's College Hall of Fame.
Former first-team All-Americans Kerry Collins and Steve Wisniewski have been selected for the national ballot for the Hall of Fame's Class of 2016. They have an opportunity to join 18 former Nittany Lion players and five Penn State coaches who have been inducted into the Hall.
Also on the Hall of Fame ballot are former Nittany Lions Bill Bowes and Glenn Killinger, who are candidates for the divisional coach Class of 2016. Killinger was inducted into the Hall of Fame as a player in 1966.
The 2016 College Football Hall of Fame Class will be announced on Jan. 8, 2016, in Scottsdale, Arizona. A total of 76 players and five coaches from the Football Bowl Subdivision are on the 2016 ballot.
Collins helped Penn State earn a 40-9 record from 1991-94 and was instrumental in the Nittany Lions earning a 22-2 overall mark (14-2 conference) during their first two years in the Big Ten Conference. The recipient of the 1994 Maxwell Award as the National Player of the Year, he helped Paterno's team win three New Year's Day bowl games: the 1992 Fiesta, 1994 Citrus and 1995 Rose Bowls.
From Wilson High School, Collins started every game in leading Penn State to the 1994 Big Ten Championship in its second year in the conference. The Lions defeated Oregon, 38-20, in the 1995 Rose Bowl to become the first Big Ten team to earn a 12-0 record, earning the No. 2 final ranking by AP, UPI and USA Today/CNN. Penn State was ranked No. 1 by the New York Times and in the Sagarin computer rankings at the end of the 1994 season.
A consensus first-team All-American, Collins directed one of most prolific and balanced offenses in NCAA and Big Ten history in 1994. The Nittany Lions led the nation in scoring (47.8 ppg) and total offense (520.2 ypg). Collins was 176-of-274 (66.7 percent) for 2,679 yards, with 21 touchdown passes and seven interceptions during his senior season (regular-season games), breaking a number of PSU records along the way.
Wisniewski was a three-year starter at guard for the Nittany Lions who would go on to become an All-Pro lineman in the NFL. He was one of two sophomores to start on the 1986 national championship team and he opened holes for two first-team All-America running backs, Blair Thomas (1987) and Dozier (1986). One of just four Penn State offensive linemen to earn a pair of first-team All-America honors, he was recognized in 1988 by the American Football Coaches (AFCA) and repeated All-America accolades from Sporting News. A 1988 team captain, Wisniewski is one of just two offensive linemen to earn Penn State's team MVP honor since its creation in 1978.
From Blanchard, Pennsylvania, Bowes was an end and lettered from 1962-64 under head coach Rip Engle. He was captain of the 1964 Penn State team that finished 6-4, including a stunning 27-0 win at No. 2 Ohio State. Bowes was the head coach at the University of New Hampshire from 1972-98, winning more games than any coach in Yankee Conference history and 11 conference titles.
From Harrisburg, Killinger was a Walter Camp All-American at quarterback for the Nittany Lions in 1921. He coached at Dickinson (1922), Rensselaer (1927-32), Moravian (1933) and West Chester (1934-41, 45-59). Killinger is the winningest coach in West Chester history and is a member of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame. He died in 1988.
Other notable nominees: Southern California Heisman Trophy Winner Matt Leinart and former New Mexico star Brian Urlacher are among some of the players making their first appearance on the College Football Hall of Fame ballot.
Leinart won the Heisman and led the Trojans to the national championship in 2004. Heisman winners Eric Crouch (2001) and Rashaan Salaam (1994) are also among the players up for election. Urlacher was the Mountain West player of the year in 1999 before having a standout career with the Chicago Bears.
Other notable first-timers on the ballot include: Kansas State's Michael Bishop, Florida State stars Derrick Brooks and Terrell Buckley, Purdue's Rod Woodson, Texas A&M's Dat Nguyen, Michigan State's Morten Andersen and Washington State's Mike Utley.
Some prominent holdovers on the hall of fame ballot include: Eric Dickerson from SMU; Randall Cunningham from UNLV; Troy Davis from Iowa State; Raghib Ismail from Notre Dame; and the late Jerome Brown from Miami.