What former Illinois great has a legitimate chance to get inducted into this year's College Football Hall of Fame class?
The College Football Hall of Fame will pick 14 players and two coaches to join its hallowed membership next Thursday. Among the 162 players and 32 coaches who were nominated, 23 have ties from Big Ten schools. Here are 10 from the Big Ten who should feel pretty good about their chances:
Shane Conlan, LB, Penn State
Played for the Nittany Lions from ... 1983 to ’86
Conlan should get in because ... the two-time All-American led Penn State with 79 tackles during his senior season, which culminated with a 14-10 win against heavily favored Miami in the 1987 Fiesta Bowl. Conlan had a key interception in that game to set up Penn State’s game-winning touchdown.
Tom Cousineau, LB, Ohio State
Played for the Buckeyes from ... 1975 to ’78
Cousineau should get in because ... the Ohio native was a tackling machine in the latter part of Woody Hayes’ career in Columbus. Cousineau, a two-time All-American, finished with 569 tackles, which still ranks second in school history. Plus, the teams he played on went 36-9 in his four seasons.
Eric Crouch, QB, Nebraska
Played for the Cornhuskers from ... 1998 to 2001
Crouch should get in because ... he won the Heisman Trophy in 2001 after he finished off a superb four-year career in Lincoln that saw him rush for 3,434 yards to go along with 4,481 passing yards. The last true option quarterback Nebraska has had, Crouch went 35-7 as the Cornhuskers’ starter.
Tim Dwight, WR/KR, Iowa
Played for the Hawkeyes from ... 1994 to ’97
Dwight should get in because ... as a versatile playmaker, the elusive and speedy Dwight was a threat to opposing defenses each time he touched the ball. That came in multiple forms, either at the wideout spot or in a kick-returning role. He ended his career with the most punt-return yards (1,102) in Big Ten history, which now ranks third.
Jumbo Elliott, OL, Michigan
Played for the Wolverines from ... 1984 to ’87
Elliott should get in because ... Jamie Morris said so. The former Michigan running back was able to follow Elliott’s blocking to the tune of three straight 1,000-yard seasons. Elliott was a two-time All-American during his time in Ann Arbor, which included a co-Big Ten title in 1986.
Kirk Gibson, WR, Michigan State
Played for the Spartans from ... 1975 to ’78
Gibson should get in because ... people believed what they saw out of productive pass catcher during his time in East Lansing. Before the Arizona Diamondbacks manager went on to a lengthy pro baseball career, he hauled in 112 catches for 2,347 yards in his career, earning All-America honors in 1978 when passing wasn’t in vogue like it is today.
Dana Howard, LB, Illinois
Played for the Illini from ... 1991 to ’94
Howard should get in because ... simply put, he’s one of the best college linebackers. Ever. His 595 tackles rank first in school history and first in Big Ten history. The two-time All-American and 1994 Butkus Award winner had at least 147 tackles during each of his four seasons in Champaign.
Tim Krumrie, DT, Wisconsin
Played for the Badgers from ... 1979 to ’82
Krumrie should get in because ... he didn’t just help clog up the running lanes for opponents. He was essential in stopping running backs head-on. The 1981 All-American and three-time All-Big Ten selection, Krumrie compiled 444 career tackles, almost unheard of for a defensive tackle these days.
Antwaan Randle El, QB, Indiana
Played for the Hoosiers from ... 1998 to 2001
Randle El should get in because ... The News-Gazette first took note of his considerable talents, naming the Thornton product its 1996 All-State Player of the Year. He didn’t disappoint during his four seasons in Bloomington, becoming the first QB in FBS history to pass for at least 6,000 yards and rush for at least 3,000 yards.
Lorenzo White, RB, Michigan St.
Played for the Spartans from ... 1984 to ’87
White should get in because ... hardly anyone could tackle him during his four years at Michigan State. His 4,887 rushing yards are still the most in school history, and he led all running backs with 2,066 yards in 1985. His play helped carry the Spartans to the 1988 Rose Bowl, where he rushed for both of Michigan State’s touchdowns in a 20-17 win against USC.