June 1, 2017
Three former University of Notre Dame football all-stars—tight end Mark Bavaro, wide receiver/kick returner Raghib Ismail and offensive tackle Aaron Taylor--appear on the 2018 National Football Foundation’s College Football Hall of Fame Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly NCAA Division I-A) ballot.
The ballot contains names of 75 players and six coaches vying for induction.
The ballot has been emailed this week to the more than 12,000 members of the NFF and current College Hall of Famers whose votes will be recorded and submitted to the NFF honors court, which deliberates and is responsible for selecting the class. Archie Griffin, an NFF board member and former two-time Heisman Trophy winner from Ohio State, chairs the honors court, a 17-member panel.
The Hall of Fame class will be announced Jan. 8, 2018, in conjunction with the College Football Playoff (CFP) National Championship Game in Atlanta, inducted at the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame’s Annual Awards Dinner Dec. 4, 2018, at the Hilton Midtown in New York City, honored on the field at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl—and later immortalized at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta.
To be eligible for the ballot, players must have been chosen first-team All-America by a major/national selector as recognized and utilized by the NCAA for its consensus All-America teams, played their last year of intercollegiate football at least 10 years prior, played within the last 50 years and be retired from playing professional football.
Coaches must be out of the college coaching profession for at least three years, coached a minimum of 10 years and 100 games as a head coach, not be coaching on the professional level and have won at least 60 percent of their games. In both cases, the candidate’s post-football record as a citizen may also be weighed.
Once nominated for consideration, all player candidates are submitted to one of eight district screening committees, depending on their geographic location, which conducts a vote to determine who appears on the ballot and represents their respective districts. Each year, approximately 15 candidates not selected for the Hall of Fame are named automatic holdovers and bypass the district screening process and automatically appear on the ballot the following year.
Here are details on the three former Irish players on the ballot:
* Mark Bavaro – Tight End – 1984 Associated Press first-team All-American, as one of only two Notre Dame tight ends to gain that honor . . . led Irish in receptions (32) and receiving yards (395) as a senior in 1984 . . . still ranks in the top 10 among Notre Dame tight ends with 55 reception and 771 receiving yards in his career . . . helped Irish to Liberty Bowl victory and Aloha Bowl appearance after 1983 and 1984 seasons, respectively.
* Raghib Ismail – Wide Receiver – Two-time first-team All-American, earning consensus honors in 1989 and unanimous honors in 1990 . . . Walter Camp Player of the Year and The Sporting News College Player of the Year in 1990 . . . Heisman Trophy runner-up in 1990 . . . led Notre Dame to 1989 Fiesta Bowl versus unbeaten West Virginia and two Orange Bowls against top-rated Colorado squads . . . set NCAA record by twice returning two kickoffs for TDs in a single game (Rice 1988, Michigan 1989) . . . finished with 4,187 all-purpose yards . . . led the nation in kickoff returns as a freshman in 1988 with 36.1-yard average . . . helped Irish to 1988 consensus national championship . . . MVP of 1990 Orange Bowl and one of 10 finalists for 1990 Sullivan Award (as only finalist from college football) . . . had six career kick returns for TDs . . . his 22.0-yard average per reception remains a Notre Dame career mark.
* Aaron Taylor – Offensive Tackle – Two-time first-team All-America selection in 1992-93 . . . a consensus pick in 1992 and a unanimous selection in 1993 . . . winner of 1993 Lombardi Award . . . named College Interior Lineman of the Year by Columbus (Ohio) Touchdown Club in 1993 . . . an Outland Trophy finalist in 1993 and a Lombardi finalist in 1992 . . . led Irish teams to four bowl games—Orange, Sugar ands two Cotton Bowls, including wins in last three . . . 1993 team captain who started 30 straight games to end his college career and helped his team in ‘93 win its first 10 games to reach number-one ranking.
This is Taylor’s third time on the ballot (also in 2013 and 2017), it’s Ismail’s seventh straight appearance—and it’s Bavaro’s first appearance.
Ismail and Taylor both were nominated in 2008--and Bavaro in 2016. Other current and active Notre Dame nominees are Luther Bradley, Pete Demmerle, Larry DiNardo, Dave Duerson, Vagas Ferguson, Bob Golic, Terry Hanratty, Dave Huffman, George Kunz, Todd Lyght, Mike McCoy, Walt Patulski, Jeff Samardzija, John Scully, Jim Seymour and Michael Stonebreaker.
Notre Dame has 46 former players and six former coaches already enshrined in the Hall of Fame, providing more inductees than any other institution. The most recent addition is Irish linebacker Bob Crable, who will be inducted in December.