Former University of Wisconsin running back Ron Dayne added another honor to his illustrious career on Tuesday morning when he was elected as a member of the National Football Foundations 2013 College Football Hall of Fame class.
During his Wisconsin career, Dayne carried the ball 1,220 times for 7,125 yards and 71 touchdowns. He became the only player in college football history to rush for more than 7,000 yards, including bowl games. And he remains college footballs all-time career rushing leader with 6,397 yards, which excludes bowl games. The mark bettered the previous record of 6,279 yards set by Texas Ricky Williams one year earlier.
Dayne left Wisconsin as a three-time All-American and put together an especially noteworthy senior year in 1999. That year, he rushed for 2,034 yards and won the Heisman Trophy, the Maxwell Award, the Doak Walker Award, the Chicago Tribune Silver Football and was a unanimous, consensus first-team All-American.
For an idea as to how dominant Dayne was at Wisconsin, consider that he single-handedly outrushed the opposing team 29 times in 43 career starts. He went on to become the first three-time Big Ten rushing champion.
"I'm very excited and thrilled to be mentioned with the greatest names in college football history," Dayne said in a UW news release. "This is a tremendous honor for me and the university. As with everything in my career, I see this as a team honor and something I never could have achieved without my teammates and coaches."
Dayne helped lead UW to back-to-back Big Ten titles and Rose Bowl championships in 1998 and 1999. A member of the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame, he is one of just four players to ever be named the Rose Bowl most valuable player twice.Dayne made his name known in college football circles immediately by rushing for a then-FBS freshman record 1,863 yards during the 1996 regular season. Oklahomas Adrian Peterson broke the freshman record with 1,925 yards in 2004. Dayne added 246 yards and Copper Bowl MVP honors to finish the season with 2,109 yards despite not starting the first four games of the season.
As a sophomore, Dayne was a finalist for the Doak Walker Award and a first-team All-American from College Football News. He missed two full games and parts of two others and still ranked fifth nationally with an average of 142.0 rushing yards per game.
During his junior season, Dayne again was a Doak Walker Award finalist, leading the Big Ten in rushing and earning Walter Camp first-team All-America honors. He led the Badgers upset of No. 6 UCLA in the 1999 Rose Bowl, rushing for 246 yards and earning game MVP honors. That game also set the stage for his Heisman Trophy campaign the following season.
"In my opinion, Ron was simply the most dominant running back that ever played college football," said Dayne's former coach and current Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez in a release. "If the rules back then were the same as they are now, with bowl games counting towards his career rushing total, no one would even come close to touching his record. We've had a lot of great players come through here but when people think of Wisconsin football, they think of Ron Dayne running the football."
Dayne's No. 33 was officially retired by Wisconsin in 2007. He was elected to the UW Athletics Hall of Fame in 2009.
He becomes the 11th former Badgers player or coach to be elected to the College Football Hall of Fame. The most recent inductee was Alvarez, who is a member of the Class of 2010. Dayne is the fourth former UW running back in the Hall of Fame, joining Wisconsin's only other Heisman Trophy winner, Alan Ameche, along with Pat Harder and Elroy "Crazylegs" Hirsch.Dayne, 35, was one of 12 players and two coaches to be elected in the Class of 2013 and will officially be inducted at the National Football Foundation Annual Awards Dinner on Dec. 10 in New York City.
The other members of the Class of 2013 are: North Carolina State running back Ted Brown, Arizona defensive end Teddy Bruschi, Nebraska quarterback Tommie Frazier, Texas defensive back Jerry Gray, Kentucky end Steve Meilinger, Ohio State offensive lineman Orlando Pace, Oklahoma linebacker Rod Shoate, Michigan State linebacker Percy Snow, Baylor quarterback Don Trull, Florida quarterback Danny Wuerffel, Miami quarterback Vinny Testaverde, Navy coach Wayne Hardin and Colorado coach Bill McCartney.
To qualify for the Hall of Fame, a player must have been a first-team All-American, have played within the last 50 years and be retired from professional football. Of the roughly 4.92 million players to have played college football since its inception in 1869, just 930 players and 202 coaches have been elected to the Hall of Fame roughly two ten-thousandths of a percent.
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