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Marcus Harris returns to College Football Hall of Fame ballot

Posted at 6:14 PM, Jun 04, 2018

(UW Athletics release)

LARAMIE, Wyo. For the second consecutive year, former two-time Wyoming All-American and 1996 Biletnikoff Award winner Marcus Harris has been selected as one of the eligible players for the upcoming National Football Foundation (NFF) & College Hall of Fame Class.  Harris is one of only 76 former Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) players eligible for selection in this coming year’s class.  Former Wyoming head coach Dennis Erickson is one of only six former FBS coaches on this year’s ballot.  There are also 100 players and 32 coaches from the divisional ranks of college football on this year’s ballot.

Harris ended his college football career as the NCAA’s all-time career leader in total receiving yards, with 4,518.  He still ranks No. 5 all-time in NCAA history.  Harris led the nation in receiving yards as a sophomore in 1994, ranked second in 1995 and again led the nation as a senior in 1996.  He was named a First Team All-American by the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) in 1995 and was a Consensus All-American in 1996.  Harris also won the prestigious Biletnikoff Award in 1996, which recognizes the college football season’s outstanding receiver.

“This is a great honor for one of our all-time great Cowboys,” said University of Wyoming Athletics Director Tom Burman.  “Marcus (Harris) achieved everything he could individually as a receiver during his Wyoming career, and he helped lead our program to a Top 25 ranking and berth in the inaugural WAC Championship Game in 1996.  Now he is being considered for the ultimate honor a college football player can receive.”

“Our staff has had the opportunity to get to know Marcus a little since we have been here at Wyoming,” said UW head football coach Craig Bohl.  “We know he is proud to be a former Wyoming Cowboy and still follows the Cowboys to this day from his home in Minneapolis.  We want to congratulate him for being one of the select few individuals being considered for this year’s Hall of Fame class.”

Erickson served as head coach for one season at Wyoming in 1986.  His other college head-coaching stops came at Idaho, Washington State, Miami (Fla.), Oregon State and Arizona State.  He won two national championship at Miami (Fla.) in 1989 and 1991.

“It’s an enormous honor to just be on the ballot when you think that more than 5.26 million people have played college football and only 997 players have been inducted,” said NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell. “The Hall’s requirement of being a First-Team All-American creates a much smaller pool of only 1,500 individuals who are even eligible. So being in today’s elite group means an individual is truly among the greatest to ever have played the game, and those actually elected to the Class will be part of a momentous year as we celebrate the 150th anniversary of college football in 2019.”

The ballot was emailed today to the more than 12,000 NFF members and current Hall of Famers whose votes will be tabulated and submitted to the NFF’s Honors Courts, which will deliberate and select the class. The FBS Honors Court, chaired by NFF Board Member and College Football Hall of Famer Archie Griffin from Ohio State, and the Divisional Honors Court, chaired by former Marshall head coach, longtime athletics director and NFF Board Member Jack Lengyel, include an elite and geographically diverse pool of athletic administrators, Hall of Famers and members of the media.

“Having a ballot and a voice in the selection of the inductees is one of the most cherished NFF member benefits,” said NFF Chairman Archie Manning, a 1989 Hall of Fame inductee from Mississippi. “There is no group more knowledgeable or passionate about college football than our membership, and the tradition of the ballot helps us engage them in the lofty responsibility of selecting those who have reached the pinnacle of achievement in our sport.”

The announcement of the 2019 Class will be made Monday, Jan. 7, 2019, in Santa Clara, Calif. The city is serving as the host for the CFP National Championship, which will be played later that day at Levi’s Stadium. Some of the electees will be on site during the announcement to represent the class and share their thoughts on being elected. The Jan. 7 announcement will be televised live, and specific viewing information will be available as the date draws near. Several of the electees will also participate in the pregame festivities and the coin toss before the championship game.

“We cannot thank CFP Executive Director Bill Hancock and his staff enough for the opportunity to continue the tradition of announcing our Hall of Fame Class in conjunction with the National Championship,” said Hatchell. “Our presence at the title game has significantly raised the profile of the announcement, allowing us to shine a much brighter light on the accomplishments of our game’s greatest legends.”

The 2019 class will officially be inducted during the 62nd NFF Annual Awards Dinner Dec. 10, 2019, at the New York Hilton Midtown. The inductees will be permanently enshrined at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta later that December and honored on the field during the 15th Annual National Hall of Fame Salute during the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. They will also be honored at their respective schools at an NFF Hall of Fame On-Campus Salute, presented by Fidelity Investments, during the 2019 season.

The criteria for Hall of Fame consideration include:

∙     First and foremost, a player must have received First-Team All-America recognition by a selector organization that is recognized by the NCAA and utilized to comprise their consensus All-America teams.

∙     A player becomes eligible for consideration by the Foundation’s Honors Courts 10 full seasons after his final year of intercollegiate football played.

∙     While each nominee’s football achievements in college are of prime consideration, his post-football record as a citizen is also weighed. He must have proven himself worthy as a citizen, carrying the ideals of football forward into his relations with his community and his fellow man, with love of his country. Consideration may also be given for academic honors and whether or not the candidate earned a college degree.

∙     Players must have played their last year of intercollegiate football within the last 50 years.* For example, to be eligible for the 2019 ballot, the player must have played his last year in 1969 or thereafter. In addition, players who are playing professionally and coaches who are coaching on the professional level are not eligible until after they retire.

∙     A coach becomes eligible three full seasons after retirement or immediately following retirement provided he is at least 70 years of age. Active coaches become eligible at 75 years of age. He must have been a head coach for a minimum of 10 years and coached at least 100 games with a .600 winning percentage.

*Players who do not comply with the 50-year rule may still be eligible for consideration by the Football Bowl Subdivision and Divisional Veterans Committees.

Once nominated for consideration, all player candidates are submitted to one of eight District Screening Committees, depending on their school’s geographic location, which conducts a vote to determine who will appear on the ballot and represent their respective districts. Each year, approximately 15 candidates, who are not selected for the Hall of Fame, will be named automatic holdovers and will bypass the district screening process and automatically appear on the ballot the following year. Additionally, the Veterans Committee may make recommendations to the Honors Court for exceptions that allow for the induction of players who played more than 50 years ago.

Of the 5.26 million individuals who have played college football since Princeton first battled Rutgers on Nov. 6, 1869, only 997 players have earned induction into the College Football Hall of Fame, or less than two one-hundredths of a percent (.02%) of those who have played the game during the past 149 years. From the coaching ranks, 217 individuals have achieved Hall of Fame distinction.