The National Football Foundation announced Wednesday that former Gators QB Jesse Palmer will emcee Tuesday’s announcement of the 2012 inductees into the College Football Hall of Fame from FBS schools.
Palmer, a college football analyst for ESPN, could be calling the name of another former Gators QB: Danny Wuerffel.
Wuerffel, the 1996 Heisman Trophy winner, is one of 76 players from FBS schools on the ballot.
Wuerffel led Florida to its first national title in 1996 and remains an iconic figure in Gator Nation, including a bronze statue that was erected outside Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in April 2011 next to ones of Steve Spurrier, his former UF coach, and Tim Tebow.
What are Wuerffel’s chances of getting inducted into this year’s Hall of Fame Class? Good question.
As a former Heisman winner and national-champion quarterback, Wuerffel would appear to be a lock to one day gain induction. However, as former FSU great Deion Sanders learned until this past year, sometimes induction takes longer than expected.
Wuerffel is one of four Heisman-winning quarterbacks among the first-time candidates on the ballot this year, joining Nebraska’s Eric Crouch, Miami’s Vinny Testaverde and BYU’s Ty Detmer.
The NFF sent out ballots to nearly 12,000 members. Once votes are counted, the NFF’s 14-member honors court chooses a class of around 15 players and coaches to be inducted.
Wuerffel is one of three Gators to win the Heisman Trophy, joining Spurrier and Tebow. He led the Gators to four consecutive SEC Championships (1993-96) and when he finished his UF career, Wuerffel held 48 records (4 NCAA, 12 SEC and 32 Florida).
If selected, Wuerffel would be the 10th Gator inducted, joining Dale Van Sickel, Spurrier, Jack Youngblood, Emmitt Smith, Wilber Marshall, Carlos Alvarez, and coaches Charles Bachman, Ray Graves and Doug Dickey.
Wuerffel is one of 12 quarterbacks on the list, including Nebraska’s Tommie Frazier, who led the Cornhuskers to a 62-24 win over the Wuerffel and the Gators in the 1995 national championship game.
Here is a quick look at the quarterback class up for induction:
--Steve Bartkowski, California: Named consensus First Team All-America in 1974…Led the nation in passing with 2,580 yards (1974)…Ranks 10th in school history with 4,434 passing yards and eighth in single-season yardage.
--Bob Berry, Oregon: Guided the Ducks to three consecutive winning seasons…First Oregon quarterback to surpass 1,000 yards in two different seasons...16 TD passes in 1963 and 39 career touchdowns passes were school records for 20 years.
--Eric Crouch, Nebraska: 2001 Heisman, Walter Camp, and Davey O’Brien Award winner who led Huskers to 2001 national title game…Holds NCAA record for career rushing TDs by a quarterback (59)…Led team to 42-9 record and four bowl berths.
--Randall Cunningham, UNLV: Named First Team All-America as a punter in 1983 and Second Team All-America as a punter and Honorable Mention as a quarterback in 1984…Led UNLV to their first-ever Bowl game…Broke 18 UNLV records.
--Ty Detmer, BYU: Twice named consensus First Team All-American and winner of 1990 Heisman Trophy…Led BYU to four consecutive bowl games and three AP Top 25 finishes…Broke 59 NCAA records and earned 1990 WAC Player of the Year honors.
--Tommie Frazier, Nebraska: 1995 consensus First Team All-America and Johnny Unitas award winner…1995 Heisman trophy runner-up and Big Eight Offensive Player of the Year…Led Huskers to back-to-back perfect national championship seasons in 1994 and ’95.
--Joe Hamilton, Georgia Tech: 1999 consensus First Team All-America and Davey O’Brien award winner…1999 Heisman Trophy runner-up and 1999 ACC Player of the Year…Led Tech to three bowl berths and share of 1998 ACC title…Set nine school records.
--Tommy Kramer, Rice: Named 1976 Consensus First Team All-America and finished fifth in 1976 Heisman voting…Southwest Conference Most Valuable Player in 1976…Rice’s all-time leader in single-season passing yards (3,272) and career passing yards (6,197).
--George Mira, Miami (Fla.): Named First Team All-America in 1962 and finished fifth in Heisman voting that year…Broke nearly every Miami passing record and currently ranks eighth in Miami history in pass completions (368), passing yardage (4,633) total offense (5,135).
--Vinny Testaverde, Miami (Fla.): Winner of 1986 Heisman, Walter Camp, Maxwell Award, and Davey O’Brien…Led Canes to three bowl berths, including 1987 Fiesta Bowl to determine national championship…Finished career with 6,058 passing yards and 48 TD passes.
--Don Trull, Baylor: Named consensus First Team All-America and led the nation with 22 touchdowns in 1963…Named First Team All-Conference, he set a school record with 174 completions in 1963…Twice named First Team Academic All-America.
--Danny Wuerffel, Florida: 1996 winner of NFF Campbell Trophy, Heisman, Walter Camp, Maxwell, and consecutive Davey O’Brien awards…Two-time SEC Player of the Year who led Gators to 1996 National Championship and four SEC championships.
**OK, time for a full disclaimer. Wuerffel is my all-time favorite Gator, so of course I think he belongs in the College Football Hall of Fame.**
Having said that, I have no idea how many quarterbacks – if any -- will get inducted in this year’s class. Also, induction is based solely on what the player did in college, so you can discount whatever impact any of these players had in the NFL.
Now time to be totally objective and rank the quarterbacks on the above list solely based on their college accomplishments. Here is how I would rank them:
- Wuerffel – Along with Spurrier, changed the SEC and made Florida a national program.
- (1A really) Frazier – Field general for perhaps greatest college team of all-time.
- Testaverde – Played in spotlight from start and continued Miami’s great run of quarterbacks.
- Detmer – Another in long list of great BYU quarterbacks who made Cougars fun to watch.
- Bartkowski – A great passer who kept chains moving before aerial attacks like we know today.
- Crouch – A much more dangerous runner than passer.
- Mira – The player who first put Miami football on map because of passing game.
- Hamilton – A dual-threat start for Yellow Jackets who gave defenses trouble.
- Kramer – He was a true gunslinger when Southwest Conference was running league.
- Cunningham – A great punter in college who later developed at QB.
- Trull – Before RG3 came along one of Bears top quarterbacks.
- Berry – Played in an era when passing was not en vogue.