Record-setting former Temple running back Paul Palmer started doubting this day would ever come. Palmer always felt he put up Hall of Fame numbers during his career at Temple from 1983 to 1986, but he was beginning to figure his Hall of Fame chances were dwindling.
He thought wrong.
On Monday it was announced that Palmer, along with nine other players, including former Penn State quarterback Kerry Collins and three coaches, were elected to the College Football Hall of Fame. The 2018 class will be inducted Dec. 4 in New York. Palmer became the first Temple football player to earn an induction.
“I kind of stopped thinking about the Hall of Fame,” Palmer said during a news conference Monday afternoon at Temple. “I told myself it was going to be a cold day in hell, but it turned out to be a cold day in Philadelphia and I will take that as well.”
Palmer, who as runner-up in the 1986 Heisman Trophy voting to Miami quarterback Vinny Testaverde, led the nation in 1986 in both rushing yards (1,866) and all-purpose yards (2,633). He is Temple’s all-time rushing leader with 4,895 yards. Palmer also rushed for 39 touchdowns and is Temple’s all-time leader in all-purpose yards with 6,613.
He was a first-round draft pick of the Kansas City Chiefs and played three seasons in the NFL. The 53-year-old Palmer is the radio analyst for Temple football games.
“I am glad, I am really humble to be up in front of you, not just representing myself, but representing Temple University,” Palmer said.
After leaving Temple, Palmer later admitted to taking money from agent Norby Walters while in college, but he said he didn’t think that was the reason he waited so long for his election.
— Marc Narducci (@sjnard) January 8, 2018
Since he played at a time when Temple games weren’t televised the way they are today, Palmer believes not enough people saw him perform.
“I think that if the people looked at the numbers, that they speak for themselves,” he said. “But I did realize that some of the people who did the voting did exactly what I did, you get the list, you look through the list and look for who you remember … as time went on you think maybe I wont get in because people don’t remember as well.”
Collins, of West Lawn, Pa., was the record-setting quarterback of Penn State’s undefeated 1994 Rose Bowl-championship team. He broke six individual single-season records while leading the Nittany Lions to a 12-0 record and a 38-20 Rose Bowl victory over Oregon. The Lions that season averaged 512.7 yards of offense, a Big Ten record that still stands, and 47.0 points. Collins set program records that season for passing yards (2,679), total offense (2,660 yards), completions (176), completion percentage (66.7), yards per attempt (10.15), and passing efficiency.
Collins capped the season by being named a consensus first-team all-American. He won the Maxwell Award as the nation’s best player and the Davey O’Brien Award for best quarterback, and finished fourth in the balloting for the Heisman. In his career, Collins ranks eighth on Penn State’s all-time list with 5,304 passing yards and 39 touchdowns, fourth with a 56.3 percent rate of completions, and fifth in passing efficiency.
After college, he was a first-round draft pick of the Carolina Panthers in 1995, the fifth player selected overall. Collins, 45, played 17 seasons in the NFL with six teams, and led the New York Giants to Super Bowl XXXV at the end of the 2000 season.
Joining Palmer and Collins in the Hall will be players Trevor Cobb (Rice), Dave Dickenson (Montana), Dana Howard (Illinois), Calvin Johnson (Georgia Tech), Ed Reed (Miami), Matt Stinchcomb (Georgia), Aaron Taylor (Nebraska) and Charles Woodson (Michigan), and coaches Frank Beamer (Murray State, Virginia Tech), Mack Brown (Appalachian State, Tulane, North Carolina, Texas), and Mel Tjeerdsma (Austin College, Northwest Missouri State).