Former USC quarterback Matt Leinart and former Dodger Kirk Gibson — who was a standout wide receiver at Michigan State University — were selected Monday as new members of the College Football Hall of Fame, as named by the National Football Foundation.
Leinart led the Trojans offense from 2003 to 2005, winning the Heisman Trophy in 2004 and leading the team to two national championships. He guided the team to a 37-2 record as starting quarterback. He was also named MVP of the 2004 Rose Bowl and 2005 Orange Bowl.
He was also the Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year in 2003 and 2004. He won the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award, AP Player of the Year and the Manning Award in 2004, and in 2005 he won the Unitas Golden Arm Award and Pop Warner Award.
He spent seven seasons in the NFL, with the Arizona Cardinals, Houston Texans and Oakland Raiders, and he now serves as a college football analyst for Fox Sports.
While best known for his career in Major League Baseball, Gibson was chosen for his career as a Michigan State wide receiver from 1975-78, where he finished as the school’s all-time leading receiver. He still holds the MSU record with a 21-yards-per-catch average. When he finished his career as a Spartan, he held the school’s records for career receptions, touchdown receptions and receiving yards.
He was a first-team All-American in 1978, helping to lead the team to a number-12 ranking. He won the MSU Outstanding Underclassman Award in 1976 and the MSU President’s Award in 1978.
Gibson was drafted by the then-St. Louis Cardinals in the 1979 NFL Draft, but he opted for a career in baseball after being picked by the Detroit Tigers in the first round of the Major League Baseball Draft. He played for 17 years, winning a World Series with the Tigers in 1984 and another with the Dodgers in 1988. The 1988 series was highlighted by Gibon’s epic walk-off home run in Game One, with an injured Gibson hobbling around the bases while pumping his fist.
He served as manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks from 2010-14.
Others named to the 2017 College Football Hall of Fame class are San Diego State University running back Marshall Faulk, Notre Dame linebacker Bob Crable; Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning; Texas offensive tackle Bob McKay; Texas A&M linebacker Dat Nguyen; Georgia Southern running back Adrian Peterson; Boston College nose guard Mike Ruth; and New Mexico safety Brian Urlacher.
Honored coaches were Steve Spurrier, the “head ball coach” who led Duke, Florida and South Carolina; Larry Kehres, who won 11 national titles at Mount Union College in Ohio; and Danny Ford, the youngest coach to ever win a national championship when he led Clemson to the title in 1981 at the age of 33.
The announcement was made on the day of the national championship game in Tampa, in which Clemson will try to knock off Alabama for its first national championship since then.
“Each of these men has established himself among the absolute best to have ever played or coached the game, and we look forward to immortalizing their incredible accomplishments,” said Archie Manning, father of Peyton and NFF chairman.
—City News Service
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