Almost 200 players and over 40 coaches were announced Monday as candidates for the College Football Hall of Fame’s 2024 ballot.
And while that sounds like a lot, consider this: more than 5.62 million people have played college football over the 153 years the sport has existed. Of that number, just 1,074 of them are in the Atlanta-based Hall. That’s less than two one-hundredths of a percent (.02%).
So this is a case where, statistically speaking, it truly is a remarkable honor just to be nominated.
Ballots have been mailed to over 12,000 National Football Foundation members and current Hall of Famers. An announcement on the Class of 2024 will be made early next year, with official inductions coming next December.
The 2024 group of nominees includes notable players like Larry Fitzgerald, Terrell Suggs, Marvin Harrison, Marshawn Lynch, Randy Moss, and Michael Vick.
But there are also several names that will jump out to Cowboys fans. Some were mainstays of the team for many years, while others crossed paths with America’s Team only briefly during their football lives.
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Terence Newman, Kansas State
Newman played defensive back for the Kansas State Wildcats from 1999 to 2002, but also saw time on special teams as a return man and even played some offense as a wide receiver. A two-sport star who also excelled in track and field, the speedy Newman won All-Big 12 honors, the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year accolades, a unanimous All-American nod, and the Jim Thorpe Award (and was a finalist for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy) as a senior.
That all translated to Newman being selected fifth overall by Dallas in the 2003 draft. He was a Day One starter under head coach Bill Parcells and played nine seasons total with the Cowboys, earning two trips to the Pro Bowl along the way. The cornerback finished his tenure with the team with 32 interceptions, seven forced fumbles, two sacks, and close to 500 solo tackles. After being cut in 2012, Newman went on to play three seasons in Cincinnati and three more in Minnesota.
Flozell Adams, Michigan State
Adams earned his nickname “The Hotel” while playing for Nick Saban’s Michigan State Spartans from 1994 to 1997. The 6-foot-seven, 335-pounder was a three-year starter in East Lansing and was ranked one of the best offensive linemen in the country by the time he wrapped up his college career, being named a semifinalist for the Outland Trophy and the Lombardi Award in his senior season.
The Cowboys drafted Adams in the second round in 1998. A 10-game starter as a rookie, he went on to five Pro Bowl nods over 12 years in Dallas. He missed just 14 games over that span and is still considered one of the most dominant offensive linemen in team history.
Kellen Moore, Boise State
Moore was a record-breaking quarterback for the Boise State Broncos from 2008 to 2011, not losing a single regular-season game over his first two years on the field. And the winning never really stopped; Moore became the first FBS passer ever to win 50 college games (he lost only three). He was a Heisman Trophy finalist as a junior. He finished his college career ranked second in NCAA history in career passing touchdowns (142), third in career passing efficiency (168.97), fifth in career passing yardage (14,667), and the winningest quarterback ever at the college level.
That incredible success did not follow Moore as a pro quarterback. Undrafted in 2012, he signed with Detroit and stood on the sidelines for three seasons before joining the Cowboys practice squad in 2015 as a backup to Tony Romo. That season, Moore got in his only three NFL games, going 61-of-104 for 770 passing yards, four touchdowns, and six interceptions. He spent two more seasons with the Cowboys and then retired from playing to join the Dallas coaching staff. After one season as quarterbacks coach, he was promoted to offensive coordinator in 2019. He guided the Cowboys to top-tier numbers in 2021 and 2022; he and the team parted ways after January’s playoff loss, and Moore took a job as the Chargers offensive coordinator for the upcoming season.
Bradie James, LSU
James was a force at linebacker for the LSU Tigers from 1999 to 2002. A starter in his freshman year, he led the team in sacks and was named Defensive MVP of the Peach Bowl. By his senior season, he was the captain of the LSU defense and set the school’s single-season record for tackles. He was an All-American in his final year at Baton Rouge and earned first-team All-SEC honors twice.
Drafted in 2003’s fourth round by the Cowboys, James was mostly a special teams contributor in his first two seasons, until a switch to a 3-4 defense under Bill Parcells put him on the field as one of the team’s starting inside linebackers. He became the first Cowboys defender to lead the team in tackles for three straight seasons and then continued that run to six seasons. He departed the club after the 2011 season with 526 solo tackles, and although tackling stats have been inconsistently recorded over the years, James is among the franchise’s all-time leaders no matter whose count is used.
Kevin Smith, Texas A&M
The cornerback was a leader of the Texas A&M Aggies defense that was best in the nation in 1991. A three-time All-SWC player, Smith is the school’s all-time career leader in interceptions, interception return yards, and interceptions returned for a touchdown.
The 17th overall draft pick in 1992, Smith played nine years in the pros- all for Dallas- and won three Super Bowl rings with the Cowboys’ dynasty teams.
Timmy Newsome, Winston-Salem State
From the archives: Timmy Newsome, a former WSSU All-American, played from 1980 until 1988 for the Dallas Cowboys. Newsome, pictured here wearing his No. 30 jersey for the Cowboys, is among the latest class in the N.C. Sports Hall of Fame. (WSSU photo) pic.twitter.com/RcTGtt6UUV
— Winston-Salem Journal (@JournalNow) January 21, 2022
Newsome led the Winston-Salem State Rams to back-to-back undefeated seasons in 1977 and 1978 and finished college as the school’s all-time leading rusher. He was the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association’s Offensive Player of the Year three times and twice led the conference in scoring and rushing.
As a sixth-round draft pick by Dallas in 1980, the 235-pound Newsome was immediately moved to fullback to block for Tony Dorsett. Over nine seasons with the Cowboys, he rushed for 1,226 yards, logged 1,966 receiving yards, and scored 30 offensive touchdowns.
Ken Norton Jr., UCLA
The son of a former heavyweight boxing champ, Norton played linebacker for the UCLA Bruins and helped the school to four consecutive bowl wins during his time there. He led the team in tackles his final two seasons, was the Bruins’ defensive MVP as a senior, and was also a finalist for the Butkus Award.
Norton was a second-round draft pick of the Cowboys in 1988. He played just six years in Dallas, but won Super Bowl championships in two of them. After Super Bowl XXVIII, Norton left the Cowboys for the 49ers and won his third consecutive Super Bowl. He has been a football coach at the college and pro levels since 2004.
Darrin Smith, Miami
— Sports Autographs (@SportsAutograp1) February 27, 2017
Smith helped the Hurricanes win national championships in 1989 and 1991. The two-time All-American never lost a conference game in his college career and finished his time in Miami with the school’s fourth-most tackles.
The Cowboys drafted Smith in the second round in 1993; he had been a redshirt freshman under coach Jimmy Johnson. He won two more titles over four seasons with the Cowboys; he’s believed to be the only player ever with two college national championship rings as well as two Super Bowl rings. He went on to play for the Eagles, Seahawks, and Saints.
Ryan Leaf, Washington State
It’s easy for modern fans to forget how spectacular Leaf was while at Washington State. The 6-foot-5, 235-pound quarterback threw for over 7,400 yards in just 32 games with the Cougars. He was 1997’s Pac-10’s Offensive Player of the Year as a junior and finished third in Heisman voting behind Charles Woodson and Peyton Manning, while leading Washington State to their first Rose Bowl berth in 67 years.
Leaf had already been branded a historic bust by the time he landed in Dallas in 2001. The former No. 2 draft pick had endured three seasons in San Diego that were marred by injuries, off-the-field missteps, and poor play. He was signed after Quincy Carter had gone down and lost all four games he appeared in for the Cowboys.
Luis Zendejas, Arizona State
#90sCowboys October 22: Happy Belated Birthday to former Cowboys kicker Luis Zendejas (K: 1987-89, Born 1961) Zendejas was targeted in the infamous Bounty Bowl game in '89 against the Eagles. pic.twitter.com/ttat1bRKQd
— 90’s Dallas Cowboys (@90s_cowboys) October 27, 2020
A Mexican-born soccer player, Zendejas was converted to placekicker after accepting a scholarship to Arizona State. As a junior in 1983, he hit a school-record 28 field goals and won All-Pac-10 honors. He owned the Division I career scoring record by the time he finished his college career with the Sun Devils.
Zendejas first came to Dallas as a replacement for Rafael Septién, but was waived after camp in 1987. He came back to join the Cowboys’ replacement squad during the players strike later that season and was then re-signed as one of two kickers to start the 1988 season. After two years with the Eagles, Zendejas returned for another stint with the Cowboys and was at the center of one of the more bizarre episodes in franchise history. He was knocked out of a Thanksgiving Day game against his former Philadelphia team, targeted by Eagles players after their head coach had supposedly placed a bounty on the kicker. (The accusations were never proven.) All told, Zendejas appeared in 12 official games for the Cowboys (playoffs included); he went 13-of-21 on field goals and was 25-of-25 on PATs.