It's been said that the College Football Hall of Fame has equal or more meaning than the Pro Football Hall of Fame, especially since many college greats didn't exactly succeed in the pros. This week the National Football Foundation released a list of 76 players and six coaches from the FBS as well as 100 players and 32 coaches from the divisional ranks who are eligible to be selected for induction into the College Football Hall of Fame.
The 2019 class will be announced on Jan. 7, 2019 in Santa Clara, California, where the College Football Playoff National Championship will be played later that day at Levi's Stadium. The newest members will be officially inducted during the 62nd annual National Football Foundation awards dinner on Dec. 10, 2019 in New York City.
Obviously not everyone on the ballot will get in, but here are five players who are definitely deserving of this honor. (For a complete list of candidates, please visit footballfoundation.org)
1. Vince Young, Texas, QB
He's arguably the most athletic and prolific quarterback in Longhorns history as evidenced by his 9,167 total yards and 81 total touchdowns. Stats aside, Young will always be remembered for his back-to-back Rose Bowl appearances at the conclusion of the 2004 and '05 seasons. In the 2005 Rose Bowl, Young ran circles around Michigan's defense to squeak out a 38-37 win. One year later Young single-handedly led the Longhorns to a comeback win (41-38) over USC to claim the BCS National Championship. Those were the only Rose Bowl appearances in Longhorn history, and the 2006 championship was Texas' first since 1970.
2. Carson Palmer, USC, QB
When Palmer went under center for USC as a senior in 2002, the Trojans had only won two bowl games since the 1996 Rose Bowl. He started the revolution that would make the Trojans one of the most feared teams in the country by throwing for 3,942 yards, 33 touchdowns, leading USC to its first Pac-10 title since 1995. The Trojans also won the Orange Bowl for their first major postseason victory since the 1996 Rose Bowl. That season Palmer became the first Trojan to win the Heisman Trophy since Marcus Allen in 1981. Palmer would go on to set school and conference (since broken) records for total offense (11,621 yds) and passing yards (11,818).
3. Eric Crouch, Nebraska, QB
When people think of great Cornhusker quarterbacks, Tommie Frazier and Scott Frost usually come to mind. But Crouch (right) should be in that conversation as well as he was a major reason why the Cornhuskers were contenders early under head coach Frank Solich, who replaced the legendary Tom Osborne in 1998. The Heisman Trophy recipient in 2001, Crouch finished with more passing yards in his career (4,481) than Frazier and ran for more yards (3,434) than Frost. And while he may not have won a national championship like Frost and Frazier, Crouch did guide the Huskers to a Big 12 conference title (1999), a Big 12 North title (1999), four Top 25 finishes (1998-2001), and four bowl game appearances, including a 2000 Fiesta Bowl victory. Crouch's Heisman-winning campaign was the first by a Nebraska player since Mike Rozier in 1983 and no Husker has been awarded the stiff-armed trophy since.
4. Joe Thomas, Wisconsin, OT
From 2003-06 Thomas literally paved the way for two 1,500-yard rushers in Brian Calhoun and P.J. Hill, both of whom went on to play in the NFL. During Thomas' time in Madison the Badgers also compiled a record of 31-13, made four straight bowl game appearances, and he was both an All-American and an Outland Trophy winner before moving on the NFL. A seven-time, first-team All-Pro in his 11 seasons with the Cleveland Browns, Thomas will more than likely earn induction into both the College Football Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame when all is said and done.
5. Darren McFadden, Arkansas, RB
One of the more unique players in the history of Razorbacks football, McFadden was the inspiration behind the "Wildcat" offense which was a mainstay of both college and the NFL during the late 2000s and early 2010s. McFadden is the most versatile running back Arkansas has ever had as he ran for 4,590 yards, had 365 receiving yards, threw for another 205, and added 926 kick return yards for good measure. He accounted for 51 combined touchdowns from 2005-07 as the Hogs compiled a 22-15 record with two bowl appearances during that stretch. McFadden also finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting in both 2006 (to Ohio State QB Troy Smith) and '07 (Florida QB Tim Tebow), making him the first player since 1949 to do so in consecutive years.
-- Gabe Salgado is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He's also written for NBC, Fox, The Sporting News, The Sports Journal, The Undefeated and Complex. He's a co-host of The Rewind Sports: 60. Follow him on Twitter @GabeSalgado82.