Earlier today the National Football Foundation and the College Hall of Fame announced over 200 names of players and coaches from both the Football Bowl Subdivision and the divisional ranks that will be on the 2023 ballot for induction into the College Football Hall of Fame.
“It’s an enormous honor to just be on the College Football Hall of Fame ballot considering more than 5.54 million people have played college football and only 1,056 players have been inducted,” said NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell. “The Hall’s requirement of being a First-Team All-American creates a much smaller pool of about 1,500 individuals who are even eligible. Being in today’s elite group means an individual is truly among the greatest to have ever played the game, and we look forward to announcing the 2023 College Football Hall of Fame Class early next year.”
Only .02% of all athletes to have played college football have been enshrined into their Hall of Fame, and among this year’s possible inductees are 10 individuals that have a connection to the Chicago Bears.
For the full 2023 College Football Hall of Fame ballot you can check out this link, but here are all the ex-Bears that made the cut.
Mark Carrier, USC, Defensive Back - Two-time First Team All-American (1988-89), earning unanimous honors in 1989…1989 Jim Thorpe Award winner as the nation’s top defensive back…Two-time First Team All-Conference selection…Led the Pac-10 in interceptions in 1989 with seven.
Carrier was a first round pick of the Bears (6th overall) in 1990, and his 10 interceptions helped him win defensive rookie of the year that season, while being named to the first of three Pro Bowls.
Matt Cavanaugh, Pittsburgh, Quarterback - 1977 First Team All-American who led the Panthers to a 1976 national title…Led Pitt to three consecutive bowl wins, earning MVP honors in the 1977 Sugar and 1977 Gator bowls…Finished Pitt career ranked second all-time (behind only Tony Dorsett) with 3,916 career yards of total offense.
Cavanaugh was Chicago’s QB coach in 2013 and 2014 under Marc Trestman, and prior to that he was the Bears offensive coordinator in 1997 and 1998 for Dave Wannstedt.
Brad Culpepper, Florida, Defensive Tackle - 1991 consensus First Team All-American and recipient of the NFF Campbell Trophy® as the nation’s top scholar-athlete…Two-time All-SEC selection who led Gators to first-ever SEC title in 1991…Ranks sixth all-time at Florida with 47.5 career TFL, a school record among defensive lineman.
Culpepper ended his 9 year NFL career playing 12 games for the Bears in 2000.
Willie Gault, Tennessee, Wide Receiver - 1982 First Team All-American…Led Vols to three bowl berths…Set six conference and 12 school punt / kickoff return records…Tied NCAA record for most touchdowns by kick return in a single season (3) in 1980.
Dan Hampton, Arkansas, Defensive Tackle - 1978 First Team All-American and two-time All-SWC selection…Named 1978 Houston Post Outstanding Player of the Year in the SWC, recording 18 TFL during his senior campaign…Helped Hogs beat No. 19 Georgia in 1976 Cotton Bowl and No. 2 Oklahoma in 1978 Orange Bowl.
Danimal was the 4th overall pick of the Bears in 1979, he was named to 4 Pro Bowls (at 2 positions) in his 12 year career, he was a feared member of their 1985 Super Bowl team, and he’s a member of the 2002 Pro Football Hall of Fame class.
Craig Heyward, Pittsburgh, Running Back - 1987 consensus First Team All-American who led the nation in rushing his final season and finished fifth in Heisman voting…Left Pitt as the second-leading rusher in school history (behind only Tony Dorsett) with 3,086 career rushing yards…Rushed for at least 100 yards in every game of 1987 season.
Just 1 of his 11 years in the NFL was spent in Chicago, but that got him on the 1993 Tecmo Super Bowl roster in the Navy and Orange where his 94 hitting power made the Bears a fun team to play as.
Julius Peppers, North Carolina, Defensive End - 2001 unanimous First Team All-American and winner of the 2001 Bednarik and Lombardi awards…2001 Chevrolet Defensive Player of the Year who finished 10th in Heisman Trophy voting…Two-time First Team All-ACC selection, leading the conference in TFL (24) and sacks (15) in 2000.
Three of Peppers’ 9 Pro Bowls were made while a member of the Bears (2010 - 2013), and the 17 year veteran is soon to be Canton bound.
Ron Rivera, California, Linebacker - 1983 consensus First Team All-American…Lombardi Award finalist in 1983 and named East-West Shrine Game Most Valuable Player…Selected as Pac-10 Co-Defensive Player of the Year in 1983…Led team in tackles from 1981-83.
Chico was a 2nd-round pick of the Bears in 1984, and he spent his entire 9 year playing career in Chicago where he won a ring as a key 1985 reserve. In 1997 and 1998 he was a defensive quality control coach with the Bears and he was their defensive coordinator from 2004 to 2006.
Michael Stonebreaker, Notre Dame, Linebacker - Two-time First Team All-American (consensus-1988, unanimous-1990)…Helped the Irish to the 1988 National Championship…Responsible for game-deciding INTs vs. Michigan and Michigan State and sealed an upset of No. 2 Miami (FL) with a fourth-quarter fumble recovery during 1990 season.
The Bears made Stonebreaker a 9th round pick in the 1991 NFL Draft and he appeared in all 16 games as a rookie.
Terry Schmidt, Ball State, Defensive Back - Named First Team All-American in 1973 when he set a single-season school record with five interceptions, finishing his career with 13 total INTs…Team MVP as a senior…Played in the Coaches All-America Game and the East-West Shrine Game.
From 1976 to 1984 Schmit racked up 21 interceptions playing corner in Chicago (15th all-time in franchise history), which is one more than Carrier’s 20 picks.