Wuerffel, Testaverde, Pace, Dayne lead college HOF class
NEW YORK — The only time Tommie Frazier and Danny Wuerffel shared the field during their brilliant college careers, Frazier’s Nebraska team trampled Wuerffel and Florida in the 1996 Fiesta Bowl to win the national championship.
Wuerffel and the Gators bounced back from that record-breaking 62-24 smackdown to take the title the next season.
The former quarterbacks will cross paths again in December, when they are inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
Wuerffel and Frazier, along with Heisman Trophy winner Ron Dayne, highlighted the latest Hall of Fame class of 12 players and two coaches announced by the National Football Foundation on Tuesday.
The rest of the players to be inducted in Manhattan are: Miami Heisman winner Vinny Testaverde, whose selection was announced Monday; Ted Brown of North Carolina State; Tedy Bruschi of Arizona; Jerry Gray of Texas; Steve Meilinger of Kentucky; Orlando Pace of Ohio State; Rod Shoate of Oklahoma; Percy Snow of Michigan State; and Don Trull of Baylor.
The new Hall of Fame coaches are Wayne Hardin, who led Navy and Temple, and Bill McCartney of Colorado.
Florida and Nebraska fans have been eagerly awaiting the inductions of their beloved All-Americans for years.
Wuerffel won the Heisman in 1996, when he led the Gators to the national championship, throwing for 3,625 yards and 39 touchdowns in coach Steve Spurrier’s Fun-n-Gun offense.
“I’m thankful for what college football has meant in my life … and how it allowed me to help other people,” said Wuerffel, who appeared at a news conference with Bruschi at the Nasdaq Stock Exchange in Times Square.
Wuerffel finished his college career as one of the most prolific passers in major college football history with 10,875 yards and 114 touchdown passes.
After a short NFL career, he retired to dedicate himself to ministry work in New Orleans, where he played from 1997-99 with the Saints.
In 2011, Wuerffel was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disorder — Guillain-Barre syndrome, which causes paralysis and problems with the nervous system but is treatable.
Wuerffel said he is just about all the way back to his old self, but endured a difficult year and a half with little energy or strength.
“You’re trying to live a normal life with 20 percent of your energy, 40 percent of your energy,” he said.
Frazier was a four-year starter at Nebraska, running coach Tom Osborne’s option attack, and helped the Huskers to national titles in 1994 and `95. His famous tackling-breaking 75-yard touchdown run put an exclamation point on Nebraska’s 62-24 victory over Wuerffel and Florida in that ’96 Fiesta Bowl.
“I’ve seen that run a lot of times,” Wuerffel said.
That loss helped propel the Gators into next season, Wuerffel said.
“I think most people would say the 1995 team was more talented,” he said. “I think (the loss to Nebraska) helped that team mature.”
Frazier finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1995 as a senior and finished his career with 5,476 total yards of offense and 79 total touchdowns.
“You never play the game and think you are going to be in the Hall of Fame one day,” Frazier said in a statement released by Nebraska. “You just go out and try to be the best you can and whatever happens, happens. I was fortunate good things happened.”
Bruschi had 52 sacks as part of Arizona’s Desert Swarm defenses during the mid-1990s.
“I don’t know who came up with that nickname, but thank you,” Bruschi said.
–Dayne is the NCAA’s career rushing leader with 6,397 yards rushing, though his bowl game yards would boost his career total past 7,000 yards if he played at a time when the NCAA counted them in regular season stats. The burly tailback won the Heisman for the Badgers in 1999.
–Brown left North Carolina State as the Atlantic Coast Conference’s leader in rushing yards (4,602) and touchdowns (51).
–Gray is one of the top defensive backs to play at Texas. He finished his career with 16 interceptions and 297 tackles.
–Meilinger was a star on offense, defense and special teams for Paul “Bear” Bryant at Kentucky in the early 1950s.
–Pace is considered one of the most dominant offensive linemen in college football history. He finished fourth in the Heisman voting in 1996.
–Shoate led the Sooners in tackles for three straight seasons during his career from 1972-74.
–Snow became the first player to win the Butkus award as the nation’s top linebacker and the Lombardi as the top linemen or linebacker as a senior with Michigan State in 1989.
–Trull passed for more than 4,000 yards and 27 touchdowns for the Bears from 1961-63.
–Hardin coached Joe Bellino and Roger Staubach to the Heisman Trophy at Navy in the 1960s, and then went on to become the most successful coach in Temple history.
–McCartney helped turn Colorado from a cellar dweller to a national title contender in the 1990s.