Dan Neil, Kenneth Sims among nominees on 2021 College Football Hall of Fame ballot

Two former Texas stars have a chance for college football immortality after former offensive lineman Dan Neil and former defensive tackle Kenneth Sims were among 78 players named to the ballot for the College Football Hall of Fame's 2021 class (photo courtesy of texassports.com).

By Steve Lansdale

AUSTIN, Texas — Former University of Texas stars Kenneth Sims and Dan Neil are among 78 Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) players (and seven coaches) on the ballot for the College Football Hall of Fame, the National Football Foundation (NFF) and College Football Hall of Fame announced Tuesday.

Neil was a guard and center for the Longhorns from 1993-96; Sims played defensive tackle for Texas from 1978-81.

Neil was a four-year starter at UT, starting all 49 games in his career. At the time, the total was the second-highest in program history; it now ranks No. 5. He was a first-team All-America honoree as a junior and senior, and was a finalist for the Outland Trophy and a semifinalist for the Lombardi Trophy. A team captain and the team’s Most Valuable Player as a senior, Neil helped UT win the final Southwest Conference championship in 1995 and the first Big 12 title in 1996, and was enshrined in the Texas Athletics Hall of Honor in 2008. Neil was selected in the third round of the 1997 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos, with whom he played for eight seasons. He started for the Broncos’ back-to-back Super Bowl-winning teams in 1998 and 1999.

A two-time consensus All-America and a two-time All-SWC selection, Sims won the 1981 Lombardi Trophy, which was awarded annually to the nation's best lineman. Sims was named the team MVP in 1980 and 1981, making him the first Longhorn since Chris Gilbert (1966-68) to earn that honor in consecutive seasons. Today, he still is one of only six Longhorns on record to earn team MVP honors in consecutive seasons. Sims was also a team co-captain in 1981, a season in which he recorded a 23 tackles for loss, setting a program record at the time and a total that still ranks No. 4 in program history. He finished his career with 50 tackles for loss, a school record at the time (No. 9 today), and 24 sacks, still the fourth-most in UT history. He also holds the school record for most career forced fumbles with 15, and was enshrined in the Texas Athletics Hall of Honor in 1997. Sims was selected by the New England Patriots with the first overall pick in the 1982 NFL Draft, joining Earl Campbell and Tommy Nobis as Longhorns who were drafted first overall. Sims played eight seasons with the Patriots.

Other top names on the ballot include former Georgia defensive back Champ Bailey, former Michigan State kicker Morten Andersen, running back Eric Bienemy (Colorado), tight end Tony Gonzalez (Cal), wide receiver/kick returner Marvin Harrison (Syracuse), quarterback Josh Heupel (Oklahoma), offensive lineman Steven Hutchinson (Michigan), quarterback Carson Palmer (UCLA) and offensive tackle Chris Samuels (Alabama).

To be eligible for the College Football Hall of Fame ballot, a player must have been named a first-team All-America by at least one national selector recognized and utilized by the NCAA for its consensus All-America teams. Candidates also must be at least 10 full seasons removed from their final seasons of college football, played within the last 50 years and can not be playing professional football.

The announcement of the 2021 College Football Hall of Fame class will be made in early 2021, with specific details to be announced in the future. The class will be officially inducted Dec. 7, 2021, during the 64th NFF Annual Awards Dinner at the New York Hilton Midtown. The inductees will be permanently enshrined at the Chick-fil-A College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta.

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