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Penn State Football: Collins And Wisniewski On 2018 Hall Of Fame Ballot

by on June 01, 2017 2:00 PM

A pair of standouts who were instrumental in helping Penn State post undefeated and championship seasons are among the candidates under consideration for the National Football Foundation’s College Hall of Fame. A total of 75 players and six coaches from FBS are on the 2018 ballot.

First-team All-Americans Kerry Collins and Steve Wisniewski have been selected for the national ballot for the Hall of Fame’s Class of 2018. They have an opportunity to join 18 former Nittany Lion players and five Penn State coaches who have been inducted into the Hall.

Also on the Hall of Fame ballot is former Nittany Lion student-athlete Glenn Killinger, who is among the candidates for the divisional coach Class of 2018. Killinger was inducted into the Hall of Fame as a player in 1966.

Linebacker Shane Conlan was the most recent Penn State player inductee, entering the Hall in 2014, while running back Curt Warner was enshrined in the Hall of Fame in 2010.

The announcement of the 2018 class will be made Monday, Jan. 8, 2018, in Atlanta. The city is serving as the host for the CFP National Championship, which will be played later that day at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Some of the inductees will be on site during the announcement to represent the class and share their thoughts on being elected. The Jan. 8 announcement will be televised live, and specific viewing information will be available as the date draws near. A few inductees will also participate in the pregame festivities and the coin toss before the championship game.

Collins helped Penn State earn a 40-9 record from 1991-94 and was instrumental in the Nittany Lions earning a 22-2 overall mark (14-2 conference) during their first two years in the Big Ten Conference. The recipient of the 1994 Maxwell Award as the National Player of the Year, he helped Penn State win three New Year’s Day bowl games: the 1992 Fiesta, 1994 Citrus and 1995 Rose Bowls.

Collins started every game in leading Penn State to the 1994 Big Ten Championship in its second year in the conference. The Nittany Lions defeated Oregon, 38-20, in the 1995 Rose Bowl to become the first Big Ten team to earn a 12-0 record, earning the No. 2 final ranking by AP, UPI and USA Today/CNN. Penn State was ranked No. 1 by the New York Times and in the Sagarin computer rankings at the end of the 1994 season.

A consensus first-team All-American, Collins directed one of most prolific and balanced offenses in NCAA and Big Ten history in 1994. The Nittany Lions led the nation in scoring (47.8 ppg) and total offense (520.2 ypg) and also led the Big Ten in rushing (250.9; 6th nationally) and passing offense (269.3 ypg; 12th nationally). The 1994 offense broke 14 school season records and seven Big Ten season marks for: points scored (526), touchdowns (71), points per game for all games (47.8 ppg), points per game for conference games (48.1 ppg), total offense (5,722 yards), total offense per game (520.2 ypg) and yards gained per play (7.64 ypp). All seven also were Penn State season records (bowl game statistics did not count in season stats).

Recipient of the 1994 Chicago Tribune-Big Ten Silver Football (Big Ten MVP), Collins was 176-of-274 (66.7) for 2,679 yards, with 21 touchdown passes and seven interceptions during his senior season (regular season games). He broke Penn State season records for completions (176), passing yardage (2,679), completion percentage (66.7, 176 of 264), pass efficiency (172.86), yards per pass attempt (10.15 ypa), touchdown passes in consecutive games (all 11 regular season games), consecutive passes completed (14 at Minnesota en route to 19-of-23, 260 yds., 3 TD), 200-yard passing games (9 of 11) and total offense (2,660).

The Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award recipient, Collins led the Big Ten in passing yardage, passing efficiency and total offense in 1994. His 172.86 pass efficiency rating was No. 4 all-time after the 1994 season and still ranks No. 3 in a season in Big Ten history.

In addition to winning the 1994 Maxwell and O’Brien Awards, Collins was fourth in Heisman Trophy voting (teammate Ki-Jana Carter was second). He also was the Chevrolet Offensive Player of the Year, the United Press International Back of the Year, a finalist for the Walter Camp Player of the Year and was the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year and first-team All-Big Ten.

Wisniewski was a three-year starter at guard for the Nittany Lions who would go on to become an All-Pro lineman in the NFL. He was one of two sophomores to start on the 1986 National Championship team and he opened holes for two first-team All-America running backs, Blair Thomas (1987) and D.J. Dozier (1986). One of just four Penn State offensive linemen to earn a pair of first-team All-America honors, he was recognized in 1988 by the American Football Coaches (AFCA) and repeated All-America accolades from Sporting News. A 1988 team captain, Wisniewski is one of just two offensive linemen to earn Penn State’s team MVP honor since its creation in 1978.

From Westfield High School in Houston, Wisniewski was the first pick in the second round of the 1989 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys, who immediately traded his rights to the Los Angeles Raiders. Wisniewski was a mainstay for the Raiders from 1989-2001, starting the final 175 games of his career. He was selected to the Pro Bowl eight times, with six first team All-Pro selections. He was elected a Raiders team captain seven times, was named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team for the 1990’s and to Oakland’s 50-Year All-Raider Team. Wisniewski missed only two of a possible 208 career games.

Wisniewski’s older brother, Leo, was a standout defensive lineman for the Nittany Lions from 1979-81. A nephew, Stefen, was a three-year starter on Penn State’s offensive line, earning first-team All-America honors in 2010. He became the first Nittany Lion to earn Academic All-America honors three times and was selected by the Raiders in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft. Stefen Wisniewski was a four-year starter with Oakland and currently plays for the Philadelphia Eagles.

From Harrisburg, Killinger was a Walter Camp All-American at quarterback for the Nittany Lions in 1921. He coached at Dickinson (1922), Rensselaer (1927-32), Moravian (1933) and West Chester (1934-41, 45-59). Killinger is the winningest coach in West Chester history and is a member of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame. He died in 1988.

To be eligible for the Hall of Fame ballot, players must have been named a first-team All-America by a major/national selector as recognized and utilized by the NCAA for their consensus All-America teams; played their last year of intercollegiate football at least 10 years prior to nomination; played within the last 50 years and cannot be currently playing professional football. Once nominated for consideration, all player candidates are submitted to one of eight District Screening Committees, which conducts a vote to determine who will appear on the ballot and represent their respective districts.

 



The staff of StateCollege.com prepared this article. Reach us at (814) 238-6201.
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