Trio of Nittany Lions On Ballot For 2014 College Football Hall of Fame Class
March 10, 2014
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.; March 10, 2014 - A trio of standouts from Penn State's 1986 National Championship team are among the candidates under consideration for the National Football Foundation's College Hall of Fame.
First-team All-Americans Shane Conlan, D.J. Dozier and Steve Wisniewski have been selected for the national ballot for the Hall of Fame's Class of 2014. They have an opportunity to join 17 former Nittany Lion players and five Penn State coaches who have been inducted into the Hall.
Penn State's three Hall of Fame candidates are tied for the most among all colleges and universities represented on the ballot.
Curt Warner, Penn State's career rushing leader for nearly 30 years, was inducted into the Hall in 2009 and was formally enshrined in the Hall of Fame in 2010. Late head coach Joe Paterno was inducted in 2007. They are Penn State's most recent Hall of Fame inductees.
The 2014 College Football Hall of Fame Class will be announced in May in Irving, Texas, and they will be inducted at the 57th NFF Annual Awards Dinner Dec. 9, 2014 at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. The inductees will be permanently enshrined in the new College Football Hall of Fame at a date to be determined in 2015. The new Hall, currently under construction, will open in Atlanta in time for the 2014 college football season.
Conlan was a two-time first-team All-American who was instrumental in Penn State earning a 23-1 record and playing in consecutive national championship games in 1985 and '86. From Frewsburg, N.Y., he became just the sixth Penn State two-time first-team All-American and the second "LinebackerU." two-time first-team All-American. Conlan was a team co-captain as a senior in 1986 and a finalist for the Butkus Award.
A four-year letterman and a three-year starter for Paterno, Conlan led Penn State in tackles during the 1984 and 1986 seasons. He recorded 274 career tackles, which were tied for No. 2 on the Penn State list when his career ended. He made 186 career solo hits, which still rank No. 3 on the school list, and his 274 career tackles are tied for No. 7 on the Penn State list. During his career (regular season games only), Conlan caused 10 fumbles, recovered four fumbles, recorded 16 sacks and had 25 tackles for loss.
Conlan was selected the 1987 Fiesta Bowl Most Valuable Defensive Player after recording eight tackles and two interceptions to lead Penn State to a thrilling 14-10 win over No. 1 Miami (Fla.) for the Nittany Lions' second national championship in five seasons. The 1986 consensus All-American led the12-0 Nittany Lions with 79 tackles, including a team-high 63 solo stops during his senior campaign.
The Buffalo Bills selected Conlan with the No. 8 overall pick in the first round of 1987 NFL Draft and he was selected the 1987 NFL Rookie of the Year by the Professional Football Writers of America. The former Frewsburg High School standout was selected to the Pro Bowl in 1988, 1989 and 1990, while playing with Buffalo (1987-92) and the Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams (1993-95) during his nine-year NFL career.
A tailback, Dozier matriculated to Happy Valley from Virginia Beach, Va. and earned first team All-America honors from the Walter Camp Football Foundation in 1986. Dozier is the only Nittany Lion to lead the team in rushing four consecutive seasons, doing so from 1983-86. He ranks No. 5 on the school career rushing yardage list with 3,227 yards, scoring 25 touchdowns and averaging 5.2 yards per attempt. Dozier gained 1,002 yards as a freshman and tallied 811 yards and scored 10 touchdowns as a senior and one of the instrumental players on the Nittany Lions' 12-0 squad.
Dozier will forever have a place in Penn State Football lore for scoring the game-winning touchdown on a six-yard fourth quarter run to lift the Nittany Lions past Miami, 14-10, in the 1987 Fiesta Bowl. A standout at Kempsville High School, he earned Most Valuable Offensive Player of the Game honors by rushing for 99 yards and making two catches for 21 yards in the thriller over the Hurricanes.
Dozier was selected by the Minnesota Vikings in the first round of the 1987 NFL Draft and played four seasons with the Vikings and the 1991 campaign with the Detroit Lions. A four-year letterwinner at Penn State, he also played baseball in the New York Mets' farm system.
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 Westfield High School in Houston, Wisniewski was the first pick in the second round of the 1989 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys, who immediately traded his rights to the Los Angeles Raiders. Wisniewski was a mainstay for the Raiders from 1989-2001, starting the final 175 games of his career. He was selected to the Pro Bowl eight times, with six first team All-Pro selections. He was elected a Raiders team captain seven times, was named to the NFL's All-Decade Team for the 1990's and to Oakland's 50-Year All-Raider Team. Wisniewski missed only two of a possible 208 career games.
Wisniewski's older brother, Leo, was a standout defensive lineman for the Nittany Lions from 1979-81. A nephew, Stefen, was a three-year starter on Penn State's offensive line, earning first-team All-America honors in 2010. He became the first Nittany Lion to earn Academic All-America honors three times and was selected by the Raiders in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft. Stefen Wisniewski has started all 45 games played for Oakland the past three seasons.
To be eligible for the Hall of Fame ballot, players must have been named a First Team All-America 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 to nomination; 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, which conducts a vote to determine who will appear on the ballot and represent their respective districts.
James Franklin was named the Nittany Lions' 16th head football coach on Jan. 11. A product of Langhorne, Pa., Franklin led Vanderbilt University to unprecedented success the past three years as head coach, including consecutive nine-win seasons and bowl victories the past two years, as well as back-to-back Top 25 finishes, all for the first time in VU history. In his 20th year of coaching, Franklin was a two-time All-PSAC quarterback at East Stroudsburg University.
Penn State returns 15 starters and 41 letterwinners for the upcoming season. The Nittany Lions will begin spring drills March 17, with the 15 practices culminating in the Blue-White Game presented by AAA at 1:30 p.m. April 12. There is no parking or admission fee for the Blue-White Game.
Season ticket renewals are underway online at www.GoPSUsports.com/accountmanager. There again was no increase in season tickets prices for Penn State football for the 2014 season. New season tickets are available by calling 1-800-NITTANY, weekdays from 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
Penn State announced two new football ticket initiatives in January.
- The Recent Graduate program gives Penn State graduates who earned an undergraduate degree from 2010-14 at any campus the opportunity to purchase up to two season tickets for $300 per ticket for the seven-game home schedule this fall. The cost includes a $50 donation to the Nittany Lion Club and is a savings of 35 percent from the regular $460 season ticket price ($360 + $100 NLC donation).
- A total of 2,500 seats are available for the Recent Graduate program on a first-come, first-served basis. The seats will be located in the North Upper Deck, in Sections NAU-NLU. Interested recent graduates can call 1-800-NITTANY, weekdays from 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
- Penn State will be implementing a variable pricing structure for its single game public football tickets during the 2014 season. Single game tickets will go on sale to the general public in July, with tickets being available for as low as $40 for some games. For a full list of prices by section for the 2014 football season, fans can log onto http://www.gopsusports.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/011414aab.html.
Coach Franklin and the Nittany Lions open the season on Aug. 30 vs. UCF in Dublin, Ireland at the Croke Park Classic. Penn State will host Rose Bowl Champion Michigan State (Nov. 29), Ohio State (Oct. 25), Northwestern (Sept. 27-Homecoming) and Maryland (Nov. 1) during its 2014 Big Ten home schedule. The Nittany Lions will play a trio of 2013 Top 10 teams this fall.
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