The College Football Hall of Fame ballot for 2018 has been released and there appears to be a good shot that at least one person related an HBCU will be selected. Seven former players and four former coaches are on the ballot for next year.
Four of those players competed at Mississippi Valley State: Vincent Brown, Ashley Ambrose, Parnell “Paydirt” Dickinson and Bob Gaddis.
Also on the list is legendary Morgan State coach Eddie Hurt, along with former FAMU coach Rudy Hubbard. Hubbard led FAMU to the 1978 Division I-AA title. Former Hampton coaches Gideon Smith and Joe Taylor.
“It’s an enormous honor to just be on the ballot when you think that more than 5.19 million people have played college football and only 987 players have been inducted,” NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell said “The Hall’s requirement of being a First-Team All-American creates a much smaller pool of only 1,500 individuals who are even eligible. So being in today’s elite group means an individual is truly among the greatest to ever have played the game, and we are extremely proud to announce their names. We look forward to revealing the 2018 Class prior to the CFP National Championship in Atlanta, the esteemed home of the College Football Hall of Fame.”
The class will be announced on Jan. 8, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia.
And the HBCU nominees are:
Vincent Brown, Mississippi Valley State
Linebacker-1987 First Team All-American, leading the NCAA in tackles in 1986 and 1987…Set NCAA All-Divisions record with 570 career tackles…Two-time All-SWAC selection who led MVSU in tackles his last three seasons.
Ashley Ambrose, Mississippi Valley State
Defensive Back-1991 First Team All-American and First Team All-SWAC selection…Named SWAC Defensive Back and Return Specialist of the Year in 1991…Led nation in punt returns during senior campaign.
Parnell Dickinson, Mississippi Valley State
Quarterback-1975 First Team All-American and Pittsburgh Courier National Player of the Year…Four-time All-SWAC selection and conference Player of the Year as a senior…Finished career as SWAC’s all-time leader in total offense (7,442 yards).
William Dillon, Virginia Union
Free Safety-Three-time First Team All-America selection (1980-82)…Tallied 16 interceptions in 1983…1983 Black College Player of the Year…Two-time First Team All-Conference selection and Player of the Year (1981-82).
Bob Gaddis, Mississippi Valley State
Wide Receiver-1974 First Team All-American and Pittsburgh Courier National Receiver of the Year…Named 1970 NAIA Freshman of the Year en route to twice leading the NAIA in yards per catch (1971-72)…Three-time All-SWAC selection led conference in yards per catch all four years.
Tyrone Poole, Fort Valley State (Ga.)
Defensive Back-First Team All-America selection in 1994…Two-time Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) Defensive Player of the Year (1993-94) who led FVSU to two conference titles…Recorded 44 pass breakups and 17 interceptions, returning four for TDs.
Billy Thompson, Maryland Eastern Shore
Defensive Back-1968 First Team All-America selection…Four-year letterman, who was named team MVP as a senior…Three-time CIAA All-Conference selection…1984 MDES Hall of Fame inductee.
Rudy Hubbard-Florida A&M (1974-85)
Captured back-to-back national championships, 1977 and 1978, including the inaugural NCAA Division I-AA National Title in 1978…Led A&M to back-to-back SIAC championships.
Eddie Hurt-Virginia Lynchburg (1925-28), Morgan State (1930-59)
Led Morgan State to six Black College National Championship and 14 CIAA titles…Posted 11 undefeated seasons, including the 1943 team that did not allow a score from a single opponent…From 1931-28, led Bears to 54-game streak without a loss.
Gideon Smith-Hampton (1921-40)
Led Pirates to 1922 Black College National Championship… Recorded four CIAA titles and two unbeaten seasons in career…Longest tenured coach in Hampton history, boasting the second-most wins all-time at the school.
Joe Taylor-Howard (1983), Virginia Union (1984-91), Hampton (1992-07), Florida A&M (2008-12)
Winningest coach in Hampton history (74%), leading Pirates to four Black College National Championships…Led teams to 10 conference titles and 10 playoff appearances throughout career…Four-time MEAC Coach of the Year.