On the eve of college football’s national championship game between Clemson and Alabama, the National Football Foundation and the College Football Hall of Fame announced its 16-member class of 2016.
The group is headlined by UNLV’s Randall Cunningham, an All-American quarterback and punter who changed the pro game with his versatility under center; Florida State linebacker Derrick Brooks, a Super Bowl champion and Pro Football Hall of Famer; and Washington State offensive lineman Mike Utley, whose NFL career was cut short when a spinal cord injury left him paralyzed.
Among the inductees are a pair of defensive backs: Rod Woodson, a Pro Football Hall of Famer and Super Bowl champion who played his college ball at Purdue from 1983 to 1986; and Scott Woerner, who helped Georgia to a national championship during his tenure from 1977 to 1980.
Here are their write-ups from the National Football Foundation’s official announcement:
Defensive Back, 1983-86
A 1986 consensus First Team All-American, Rod Woodson ended his stellar Purdue career holding 13 individual records. He becomes the eighth Boilermaker player to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
The runner-up for the 1986 Jim Thorpe Award, Woodson was a three-time First Team All-Big Ten selection who started all 45 games of his career. He left Purdue as the career leader in solo tackles, interceptions, interception return yardage, interceptions returned for touchdowns, kickoff returns and kickoff return yardage, and he still ranks in the top five in nearly every category. The senior team captain and MVP is also tied for the school record for career fumble recoveries, and he boasts the Boilermakers’ longest interception return, a 100-yard run back against Iowa in 1986. Named Purdue’s 1986-87 Male Athlete of the Year, Woodson led the Boilermakers to an appearance in the 1984 Peach Bowl. He finished his career with 445 tackles, 11 interceptions and 29 pass breakups while adding 71 kickoff returns for 1,535 yards and one touchdown.
Taken 10th overall in the 1987 NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers, Woodson played 17 seasons in the league with the Steelers, San Francisco 49ers, Baltimore Ravens and Oakland Raiders. The 1993 NFL Defensive Player of the Year was an 11-time Pro Bowl selection, and he appeared in three Super Bowls, winning Super Bowl XXXV as a member of the Ravens.
A 2009 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee, he is a member of the NFL’s 75th Anniversary Team and the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1990s. Woodson was inducted into the Purdue Athletics Hall of Fame in 2003 and the Big Ten’s annual Tatum-Woodson Defensive Back of the Year Award carries his name. He now serves as the assistant defensive backs coach for the Oakland Raiders.
University of Georgia
Defensive Back, 1977-80
Scott Woerner cemented his name among the greatest defensive players in Georgia history after leading the program to a perfect 12-0 national championship season in 1980. He becomes the 13th Bulldog player to enter the College Football Hall of Fame.
A First Team All-America selection as a senior, Woerner made two key interceptions in Georgia’s win over Notre Dame in the 1981 Sugar Bowl for the national title. The 1980 First Team All-SEC selection led the Bulldogs to the conference title, and he was the only defensive player in the conference’s top 10 in all-purpose yardage. Georgia’s Most Valuable Back in 1980, Woerner currently ranks fourth all-time in program history with 13 career interceptions and second with 303 career interception return yards. Considered the best punt returner in Bulldogs history, he was twice named the school’s Outstanding Special Teams Player, and he set UGA records for career (1,077) and single-season (488) punt return yards and kickoff return yards in a game (190). Woerner played for College Football Hall of Fame coach Vince Dooley and alongside Hall of Famers Terry Hoage and Herschel Walker during his time in Athens.
Chosen in the third round of the 1981 NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons, Woerner played one year for the franchise. He played for the Philadelphia/Baltimore Stars of the USFL for three seasons, leading them to consecutive league championships in 1984 and 1985.
After his playing days ended, Woerner spent a career teaching physical education, and he is now semi-retired in Rabun County, Ga. He has been very active in the community, volunteering with the American Heart Association, Northeast Georgia Food Bank, Shepherd Spinal Center and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Woerner is a member of the University of Georgia Athletic Association Circle of Honor and the State of Georgia Sports Hall of Fame.
Other defensive backs on the 2016 ballot included Florida State’s Terrell Buckley, USC’s Mark Carrier, Arizona State’s David Fulcher, Notre Dame’s Todd Lyght, Tennessee’s Bobby Majors, Auburn’s Buddy McClinton, Virginia’s Anthony Poindexter, USC’s Dennis Thurman, Washington’s Al Worley, Western State’s William Campbell, Indianapolis’ Tom Collins, Cameron’s Mark Cotney, Virginia Union’s William Dillon, Stony Brook’s Chuck Downey, Middle Tennessee State’s Don Griffin, St. Mary’s Fran McDermott, Holy Cross’ Bill McGovern, Ball State’s Terry Schmidt, Troy’s Freddie Thomas, Maryland Eastern Shore’s Billy Thompson and Northern Michigan’s Jerry Woods.
The rest of the 2016 College Football Hall of Fame inductees are Nebraska-Omaha QB Marlin Briscoe, LSU QB Bert Jones, Iowa State RB Troy Davis, Harvard TE Pat McInally, North Carolina DT William Fuller, Wisconsin DT Tim Krumrie, Colorado DE Herb Orvis, Ohio State LB Tom Cousineau, Ashland LB Bill Royce, New Hampshire coach Bill Bowes and Lycoming coach Frank Girardi.