College Football Hall of Fame to call 16

Former Penn State running back D.J. Dozier. (John Swart/AP)

Selecting new members for induction into a Hall of Fame in any sport is a difficult task. Then you have the College Football Hall of Fame.

The College Football Hall of Fame, conducted by the National Football Foundation, will announce its 16 newest members - 14 players and two coaches - Thursday in Irving, Texas. To get to that number, a special committee last month narrowed the contenders down from an original list of 194 nominees - 162 players and 32 coaches.

The numbers are high because the basic requirement for consideration is simple: You must have been named an all-American in a season by any one of the multiple organizations and news outlets that pick such a team.

So that leaves about 1,500 people eligible for consideration for the Hall. And it doesn't count the players who have to sit through a 10-year waiting period from the end of their final collegiate season, or those who still are playing professional football and must wait until after their careers are over before becoming eligible for consideration.

While the newest inductees were to be introduced Thursday, got the jump Wednesday when it reported that the late Derrick Thomas, former linebacker for Alabama and the Kansas City Chiefs, made it to the Hall. Thomas died in 2000 after an auto accident that left him paralyzed.

The nominees of local interest are former Temple running back Paul Palmer, Villanova linebacker Curtis Eller, and three Penn State players - linebacker Shane Conlan, running back D.J. Dozier, and guard Steve Wisniewski.

Palmer led the nation in rushing in 1986 with 1,866 yards and broke an NCAA record with 2,633 all-purpose yards. He shattered four NCAA records and 23 Temple records during his career.

Eller made all-American teams in 1991 and 1992. He was twice named Yankee Conference defensive player of the year, and in 1992 the Sporting News selected him as its national defensive player of the year.

Conlan gained all-American honors in 1985 and 1986. He led the Nittany Lions in tackles in 1986 and had two interceptions in the 1987 Fiesta Bowl game, the second of which set up the winning touchdown as Penn State defeated Miami to win the national championship.

Dozier, who is sixth on Penn State's career rushing list with 3,227 yards, led the Lions in rushing from 1983 through 1986, and capped his career by scoring the winning touchdown in the national championship game.

Wisniewski, a two-time all-American in 1987 and 1988, was a three-year starter at guard before going on to a stellar 13-year career in the NFL, all with the Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders.