Orlando Pace set for NFF Hall of Fame On-Campus Salute
IRVING, Texas -- The Ohio State University and The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame announced today that they will jointly honor Orlando Pace with an NFF Hall of Fame On-Campus Salute on Oct. 26 in Columbus during the game between Ohio State and Penn State.
Pace, who starred with the Buckeyes from 1994-96, was known as the "Pancake Man" for flattening his opponents with his exceptional blocking techniques, Orlando Pace finished fourth in the 1996 Heisman balloting, the highest finish for a lineman since 1980.
"Orlando Pace is not only the best offensive lineman I have ever coached, but he is the best I have ever seen," said John Cooper, the College Football Hall of Fame coach. "Every game was a highlight reel for him. We ran a lot of counter sweeps and a lot of screens, and on many of those plays Orlando had to be out in front of the ball carrier. And we had some pretty good ball carriers… I don't know how you could play the position any better than he did. He was just a fantastic football player. He was the best."
The NFF Hall of Fame On-Campus Salute program is a hallowed tradition that began with the inaugural class in 1951, and to this day the salutes remain the first of numerous activities in each inductee’s Hall of Fame experience. During the NFF Hall of Fame On-Campus Salutes, each inductee returns to his alma mater to accept a Hall of Fame plaque that will remain on permanent display at the institution. The events take place on the field during a home game, and many inductees cite the experience as the ultimate capstone to their careers, providing them one more chance to take the field and hear the crowd roar their name.
"Orlando Pace revolutionized the blocking game," said NFF President and CEO Steve Hatchell. "His pancake blocks led the way for a Heisman Trophy-winning teammate and almost earned Pace a Heisman Trophy himself. It will be a thrill for us to honor him in front of the Buckeye faithful in Columbus."
A two-time unanimous First-Team All-American (1995, 1996), Pace was the first player in history to repeat as the Lombardi Trophy winner, earning the honors as a sophomore and junior. In addition, Pace claimed the 1996 Outland Trophy while leading Ohio State to a share of the Big Ten title. He did not allow a sack during his final two seasons, blocking for Hall of Fame and 1995 Heisman Trophy-winning running back Eddie George as well as NFF Campbell Trophy winner Bobby Hoying. The 1996 Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year started every game of his career, and he led the Buckeyes to three straight bowl appearances under Hall of Fame coach John Cooper.
Chosen with the first overall pick by the St. Louis Rams in the 1997 NFL Draft, Pace enjoyed a decorated 13 seasons in the league, culminating with the Rams’ Super Bowl XXXIV Championship in 1999. Pace was named All-Pro five times, and he earned seven Pro Bowl selections.
The Sandusky, Ohio, native has been a spokesman for Our Little Haven’s ‘Safe & Warm’ expansion project since 1998, and he assists with the efforts for the Diversity Awareness Partnership. Pace also regularly purchases NFL tickets for underprivileged youth.
Pace becomes the 24th Ohio State player to be inducted, joining Warren Amling (1944-46), Hopalong Cassady (1952-55), Jim Daniell (1939-41), Bob Ferguson (1959-61), Wes Fesler (1928-30), Eddie George (1992-95), Randy Gradishar (1971-73), Archie Griffin (1972-75), Chic Harley (1916-17, 1919), John Hicks (1970, 1972-73), Les Horvath (1940-42, 1944), Jim Houston (19557-59), Vic Janowicz (1949-51), Gomer Jones (1933-35), Rex Kern (1968-70), Jim Parker (1954-56), Chris Spielman (1984-87), Jim Stillwagon (1968-70), Gaylord Stinchcomb (1917, 1919-20), Jack Tatum (1968-70), Aurealius Thomas (1955-57), Bill Willis (1942-44) and Gust Zarnas (1935-37). Six coaches with stops in Columbus are in the hall: Earle Bruce (1979-87), John Cooper (1988-00), Woody Hayes (1951-78), Howard Jones (1910), Francis Schmidt (1934-40) and John Wilce (1913-28).
(Full press release via National Football Foundation)