LT inducted into College Football Hall of Fame
With 5,387 career rushing yards, LaDainian Tomlinson '05 helped usher in a new golden era of TCU football.
by TCU Athletics
Updated: Wednesday, December 10, 2014
TCU career rushing leader LaDainian Tomlinson '05 shows at last night's College Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
Coming out of high school, LaDainian Tomlinson wasn’t heavily recruited. Yet when his career on the gridiron was all over, he ended up as a college football immortal.
Last night, TCU’s all-time leading rusher joined an illustrious 16-member class as inductees to the College Football Hall of Fame in a ceremony in New York. He twice led the nation in rushing from 1997-2000, and said he was humbled to be honored for his days spearheading the Frogs.
“This is especially significant, because when you think about it our names will live on forever,” Tomlinson said. “When I think about that, I think about my children and their children. That is special.”
Tomlinson started out his career in high school as more of a blocking back, but by his senior year had exploded as a playmaker. He rushed for a Waco city record 2,554 yards in 1996, earning Super Centex Player of the Year honors.
TCU, which won only four games in 1996, gave Tomlinson a shot. He had gotten on the Frogs radar late along with only Baylor and Kansas State. But the Frogs’ rewarded their faith by rushing for 5,387 yards and helping the Frogs reach three straight bowl games. He also set a single-game NCAA record for rushing yardage with 406 yards against UTEP. That mark held up until Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon (408 yards) and Oklahoma’s Samaje Perine (427) surpassed it this year.
After Dennis Franchione’s departure, Gary Patterson coached Tomlinson for one game in the final game of his career before LT went out to a brilliant NFL career, mostly with the San Diego Chargers. Patterson has built TCU into a player on the national scene in the 15 years since, and naturally Tomlinson was upset to see his alma mater left out of the College Football Playoff.
“My claim overall is that the Big 12 overall has a better resume than the Big Ten,” Tomlinson said. “If you look at the resumes in the Big Ten, you look at Minnesota — who TCU beat handily — they competed in the Big Ten for the Big Ten championship. … At the end of the day, all we have is gripes.”
This year’s Hall of Fame class also included coaches Jerry Moore and Mike Belotti. Moore played receiver at Baylor from 1958-60 before going on to a stellar coaching career with North Texas, Texas Tech and, most notably, Appalachian (N.C.) State.
“Besides my spiritual life and my family, there’s nothing that ever meant more to me than coaching,” Moore said. “I played on a high school team where we used to celebrate if we won the coin toss.”
In addition to Tomlinson, the induction class included former players Dre Bly of North Carolina, Tony Boselli of USC, Dave Butz of Purdue, Penn State’s Shane Conlan, Georgia Tech quarterback Joe Hamilton, Maine’s John Huard, Stanford’s Darrin Nelson, Louisiana Tech’s Willie Roaf, UCLA’s John Sciarra, South Carolina’s Sterling Sharpe, McNeese State’s Leonard Smith, Alabama’s Derrick Thomas and Mississippi’s Wesley Walls. Thomas, who died in 2000, was inducted posthumously.