The College Football Hall of Fame 2013 class was announced Tuesday morning from the floors of the NASDAQ Stock Market. Amongst those finally included was Ohio State all-everything tackle and arguably one of the most dominate college offensive linemen ever to play the game, Orlando Pace.
In 1994, Pace became just the second true freshman to ever start for the Buckeyes (and did so from just about his first day on campus). Pace won the Lombardi Award in 1995 and '96 – the first ever sophomore to win it and the first player ever to win it twice – and Outland Trophy in 1996, honors recognizing the nation's best offensive lineman or linebacker and lineman respectively, and became a two-time first-team All-American in the process.
Perhaps most impressively of all, Pace finished fourth in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1996 and received a trip to the Downtown Athletic Club in New York City for his troubles. No lineman (offensive nor defensive) had been bestowed with such an honor since Pittsburgh end Hugh Green finished second in 1980. He was also the first offensive lineman since (appropriately enough) Ohio State's John Hicks (also a College Football Hall of Famer), to finish amongst the Top 4 vote recipients for college football's highest honor.
He later would go on to be the first offensive lineman selected first overall in the NFL Draft in almost 30 years for the St. Louis Rams. It's also hard to forget Pace failing to give up a sack as sophomore and junior seasons against top level competition prior to making the leap to perennial Pro Bowler and ultimately Super Bowl champ.
On Pace, his former Ohio State coach John Cooper said:
"Orlando Pace is not only the best offensive lineman I have ever coached, but he is the best I have ever seen. Every game was a highlight reel for him. We ran a lot of counter sweeps and a lot of screens, and on many of those plays Orlando had to be out in front of the ball carrier. And we had some pretty good ball carriers."
"I don't know how you could play the position any better than he did. He was just a fantastic football player. He was the best."
For all the right reasons, the Hall of Fame finally did right in also honoring wrongly snubbed Nebraska QB Tommie Frazier. Joining Pace and Frazier were Ted Brown (RB, North Carolina State), Tedy Bruschi (DE, Arizona), Ron Dayne (RB, Wisconsin), Jerry Gray (DB, Texas), Steve Meilinger (OL, Kentucky), Percy Snow (LB, Michigan State), Don Trull (QB, Baylor), Danny Wuerffel (QB, Florida), Vinny Testaverde (QB, Miami), Rod Shoate (LB, Oklahoma), Bill McCartney (coach, Colorado), and Wayne Hardin (coach, Navy and Temple).
For all the wrong college football (and their Hall of Fame) are criticized for doing, they finally got it right with Pace.