The National Football Foundation (NFF) and College Hall of Fame have officially announced the candidates on the 2023 ballot for induction into the College Football Hall of Fame. The potentials include 80 players and nine coaches from the Football Bowl Subdivision, and 96 additional contenders and 33 coaches from the divisional ranks. It represents an honor of the highest degree.
We’ve swiftly identified 12 legendary performers that should make the 2023 College Football Hall of Fame.
1. RAY LEWIS, LB, MIAMI HURRICANES
Arguably the greatest linebacker to ever grace an NFL field, Ray Lewis was a dominant standout defender for the Miami Hurricanes before he became a Baltimore Raven. Lewis ranks sixth all-time at Miami with 388 career tackles and is a no-brainer Hall of Famer at every level he ever competed at.
2. REGGIE BUSH, RB, USC TROJANS
The No. 2 overall selection in the 2006 NFL Draft, Reggie Bush’s NFL career unfortunately failed to reach the expected standards, but Bush was an electric ball-carrier for the Trojans. One of the greatest collegiate running backs of all time, Bush was a two-time Pac-10 Player of the Year who led the Trojans to back-to-back national championships.
3. TIM TEBOW, QB, FLORIDA GATORS
Tim Tebow’s NFL career was filled with twists and turns, but there’s no denying that Tebow was one of the most electric collegiate quarterbacks throughout his must-watch period. The first sophomore to win the prestigious Heisman trophy in 2007, Tebow led the Gators to two national championships in 2007 and 2009. He’s a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
4. TONY GONZALEZ, TE, CALIFORNIA
Unlike the previous two members on our list, Tony Gonzalez enjoyed both an excellent collegiate and professional career. The No. 13 overall selection in the 1997 NFL Draft, Gonzalez is widely regarded as one of the greatest tight ends of all time. His story began at California, where he posted 89 receptions for 1,302 yards and eight touchdowns as a prolific receiving threat for the Golden Bears.
5. LUKE KUECHLY, LB, BOSTON COLLEGE
Before becoming a worthy NFL Hall of Famer as a member of the Carolina Panthers, Luke Kuechly enjoyed one of the greatest single-season defensive performances college football had ever seen in 2011 en route to capturing the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, Lombardi Award, Lott Trophy, and Butkus Award, all while being named the ACC Defensive Player of the Year. In only three seasons of play, Kuechly set the Boston College and ACC career tackle records with 532 tackles. Put this man in the Hall.
6. MARSHAWN LYNCH, RB, CALIFORNIA
Marshawn Lynch was named the 2006 Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year. Lynch enjoyed a historic season while leading the league in rushing (1,356), all-purpose yards (1,785), and touchdowns (15) that season. Lynch was an excellent NFL ball carrier as well, but the Oakland, California native also deserves appropriate recognition for what he achieved as a Golden Bear.
7. JULIUS PEPPERS, EDGE, NORTH CAROLINA
Julius Peppers has already witnessed his North Carolina jersey (No. 49) receive the honorary treatment. Peppers is a member of the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame and he’ll surely be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame shortly. Peppers led the nation with 15 quarterback sacks during his sophomore season (2000). Peppers later won the Chuck Bednarik Award as the nation’s top defensive player, the Lombardi Award as the best collegiate lineman, and the Bill Willis Trophy as the nation’s best defensive lineman following his historic 2001 campaign.
- MARVIN HARRISON, WR, SYRACUSE
Before Marvin Harrison formed one of the greatest quarterback-receiver duos alongside Peyton Manning in NFL history, the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania native was an electric wide receiver and kick returner at Syracuse. Harrison was a First-Team All-American as a kick returner and 1995 Big East Special Teams Player of the Year. He departed Syracuse as the program’s all-time leader in receiving yards (2,718).
- DWIGHT FREENEY, EDGE, SYRACUSE
From one legendary Syracuse player to another, Dwight Freeney should join Harrison in the College Football Hall of Fame. A master of efficiency, Freeney holds the NCAA all-time record for career sacks per contest (1.61). Freeney also holds the Syracuse record for all-time tackles for loss (50.5).
10. STEVE HUTCHINSON, OL, MICHIGAN
A five-time First-Team All-Pro and seven-time Pro Bowler at the NFL level, Steve Hutchison was equally as successful at the collegiate level while arguably enjoying one of the greatest amateur careers of any offensive lineman in college football history. Hutchinson earned a starting job in 1997 and immediately helped Michigan capture a national championship. Hutchinson excelled as a four-year starter and remarkably did not allow a sack during his final two seasons as a Wolverine. He was a two-year team captain, four-year All-Big Ten selection, and Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year.
- ERIC BERRY, DB, TENNESSEE
Eric Berry is one of the greatest defensive backs to ever grace a college football field. Berry racked up a laundry list of accolades as a Volunteer, including being named a two-time unanimous First Team All-American (2008-09) and winning the 2009 Thorpe Award. Berry was the 2008 SEC Defensive Player of the Year and a three-time All-SEC selection. Berry was the No. 5 overall selection in the 2010 NFL Draft and played his entire career for the Kansas City Chiefs as a five-time Pro Bowler and member of the NFL 2010s All-Decade Team.
12. TROY VINCENT, DB, WISCONSIN
We’re turning back the clock to the early 1990s for our 12th and final selection, but football fans from all walks of life should be familiar with the legendary Troy Vincent. An excellent defender and ace special teams standout, Vincent finished his Wisconsin career as the program’s all-time leader in punt return yards (773) and passes defended (31). He later enjoyed an excellent NFL career as a five-time Pro Bowler and is already a member of the Philadelphia Eagles Hall of Fame.
- Jun 24, 2022