If you were to put together an all-time dream team of a secondary for any level of football, no one would call you crazy for including Charles Woodson and Ed Reed.
Two of the greatest defensive backs the game has seen never did share a secondary outside of the NFL’s Pro Bowl, but they will share the stage when both are inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as part of the 2018 class.
Woodson made history at Michigan as the first (and still only) primarily defensive player to win the Heisman Trophy. During the 1997 season, Woodson recorded seven interceptions at cornerback, scored three touchdowns on offense as a receiver, and returned one punt for a score. He beat out Peyton Manning, Ryan Leaf and Randy Moss for the Heisman and led the Wolverines to a national championship.
That season also saw Woodson win the Walter Camp Award (national player of the year), the Bronko Nagurski and Chuck Bednarik trophies (national defensive player of the year) and the Jim Thorpe Award (nation’s best defensive back). The two-time All-America pick left Michigan after his junior season and was chosen with the No. 4 pick in the 1998 NFL Draft.
During his pro career with the Raiders and Packers, Woodson started at cornerback, free safety and strong safety. He won a Super Bowl, was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2009, made the Pro Bowl nine times, and finished as the only player in league history to record at least 20 sacks and 50 interceptions (he had 65). He is also tied with Rod Woodson and Darren Sharper for the most defensive touchdowns in NFL history with 13.
Reed was also a Super Bowl champion, Defensive Player of the Year (2004) and nine-time Pro Bowler in the NFL. He played some strong safety but mostly free safety, spending 11 seasons with the Ravens before splitting his final season between the Texans and Jets.
Before the pros, Reed was a two-time All-America pick at Miami (Fla.) who was Big East co-Defensive Player of the Year and helped lead the Hurricanes to a national championship after the 2001 season. He holds Miami’s school records for interceptions (21) and pick-sixes (five).
The complete 2018 College Football Hall of Fame class:
Kerry Collins, QB, Penn State (1991-94)
Dave Dickenson, QB, Montana (1992-95)
Trevor Cobb, RB, Rice (1989-92)
Paul Palmer, RB, Temple (1983-86)
Calvin Johnson, WR, Georgia Tech (2004-06)
Matt Stinchcomb, OT, Georgia (1995-98)
Aaron Taylor, OL, Nebraska (1994-97)
Dana Howard, LB, Illinois (1991-94)
Ed Reed, DB, Miami (1998-01)
Charles Woodson, DB, Michigan (1995-97)
Frank Beamer, head coach (Virginia Tech, Murray State)
Mack Brown, head coach (Texas, North Carolina, Tulane, Appalachian State)
Mel Tjeerdsma, head coach (Austin College, Northwest Missouri State)