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Freeney, ND's Stonebreaker make College Football Hall of Fame

The hall of fame class is headlined by Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow and Reggie Bush, who had his Heisman vacated in 2005 because of NCAA violations.

INDIANAPOLIS — Reggie Bush, whose Heisman Trophy victory for Southern California in 2005 was vacated because of NCAA violations, was among 18 players in the latest College Football Hall of Fame class announced Monday.

Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, who won the Heisman in 2007, was also elected to the hall by the National Football Foundation, along with Dwight Freeney of Syracuse; Luke Kuechly of Boston College; LaMichael James of Oregon; and Michael Bishop of Kansas State.

Freeney tallied 34 sacks and 50 1/2 tackles for loss at Syracuse from 1998-2001, also forcing 14 fumbles during his collegiate career. He was the 2001 co-defensive player of the year in the Big East. 

Drafted 11th overall by the Indianapolis Colts in the 2002 NFL draft, Freeney recorded 107 1/2 sacks in 11 seasons with the Colts, second only to teammate Robert Mathis on the team's all-time list. He finished his 16-year career with 125 1/2 sacks.

Last week, Freeney was named a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. 

Credit: AP
Indianapolis Colts defensive ends Dwight Freeney, left, and Robert Mathis celebrate a sack against the Carolina Panthers during the second quarter of an NFL football game in Indianapolis, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2011. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Michael Stonebreaker, a linebacker at Notre Dame from 1986-90, will also be inducted, the 55th Notre Dame player or coach to receive the honor, the most of any college in the country. 

He played three seasons in the NFL after being drafted by the Chicago Bears in the ninth round of the 1991 draft.

Bush played on two national championship teams with USC in 2003 and '04, and led the Trojans to another title game in 2005, a season in which he won the Heisman with a spectacular season. He ran for 1,740 yards, averaged 8.7 yards per carry and scored 19 touchdowns.

He went to become the second overall pick in the NFL draft by the New Orleans Saints after a college career that saw him run for 3,169 yards in three seasons, averaging 7.3 yards per carry, and score 42 touchdowns.

The NCAA later investigated USC and Bush and determined he and his family had received impermissible benefits from a marketing agent while playing for the Trojans.

The NCAA hit USC with severe sanctions in 2010 and later the Heisman Trust vacated Bush's Heisman victory and asked him to return his trophy.

Among the NCAA penalties, USC disassociated with Bush for 10 years. That sanction lifted in 2020 and Bush was welcomed back by the school.

The Heisman win remains vacated, saying it would only return the award if the NCAA reconsiders the penalties against Bush. The NCAA has said it will not be re-evaluating old infractions cases, though there have been calls do to so in light of today's less-restrictive rules around athlete compensation for endorsement deals.

While Bush is still not a Heisman winner in the official record books, he will be a Hall of Famer.

Credit: AP
FILE - Southern California tail back Reggie Bush walks off the field holding the game ball after the Trojans defeated Fresno State, 50-42, at the Los Angeles Coliseum on Nov. 19, 2005. Reggie Bush, whose Heisman Trophy victory for Southern California in 2005 was vacated because of NCAA violations, was among 18 players in the latest College Football Hall of Fame class announced Monday, Jan. 9, 2023. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian, File)

The National Football Foundation, which runs the college hall, has be more lenient in recent years in regards to players and coaches who have been attached to NCAA scandals.

Former Ohio State coach Jim Tressel was elected in 2015. He was forced to resign by the school he led to a national championship in 2011 for misleading NCAA investigators.

SMU running back Eric Dickerson waited decades before going into the Hall of Fame in 2021. Dickerson was never found to have broken NCAA rules, but his association with a program that was shut down in the mid-1980s for violations that spanned his time at the school was enough to keep him out.

The rest of the latest class of college Hall of Famers includes: Eric Berry of Tennessee; Robert Gallery of Iowa; Derrick Johnson of Texas; Bill Kollar of Montana State; Jeremy Maclin of Missouri; Terrance Mathis of New Mexico; Bryant McKinnie of Miami; Corey Moore of Virginia Tech; Troy Vincent of Wisconsin; Brian Westbrook of Villanova; and DeAngelo Williams of Memphis.

The four coaches to be inducted into the Hall of Fame in December will be Monte Carr of Shepherd; Roy Kramer, the Central Michigan coach who became Southeastern Conference commissioner; Mark Richt, who coached Georgia and Miami; and triple-option guru Paul Johnson, who had stints at Georgia Southern, Navy and Georgia Tech.

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