On Wednesday the National Football Foundation (NFF) announced the names on the 2022 ballot for the College Football Hall of Fame, a list that includes former Pittsburgh Steelers inside linebacker Levon Kirkland and former Steelers wide receiver Antwaan Randle El.
The announcement of the 2022 College Football Hall of Fame Class will be made early next year, with the induction ceremony taking place on December 6, 2022. The named players and coaches will also be honored at their respective schools with an NFF Hall of Fame On-Campus Salute.
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Linebacker Levon Kirkland
In the case of Kirkland, he will be celebrated at Clemson University, where he is already a member of the school’s Ring of Honor, having starred for the Tigers between 1988-91. His college accolades include being named a consensus First-Team All-American in 1991 and Second-Team All-American in 1990, as well as a finalist for the 1990 Butkus Award and the 1989 Gator Bowl MVP.
That helps explain why he was drafted by the Steelers in the second round of the 1992 NFL Draft and went on to play for the organization for nine seasons before finishing his career with the Seattle Seahawks and Philadelphia Eagles.
If you never saw Kirkland play for the Steelers, he was something of a unicorn in that he was 6-1 and 280-plus pounds, but somehow much more than a thumper with pass rush skills. He was also famously able to cover running backs and tight ends all over the field. In fact, he was responsible for 15 passes defensed and an interception in 1998, the season after he was named first-team All-Pro, the second of two consecutive Pro Bowl appearances.
He is also a member of the South Carolina Football Hall of Fame, having been enshrined in 2017.
Wide Receiver Antwaan Randle El
The other longtime Steelers standout named to the ballot is former Indiana quarterback Antwaan Randle El, who was Pittsburgh’s second-round pick in 2002 and played for the Steelers for four years before moving on to Washington, only to return to Pittsburgh for one final NFL season in 2010.
In 2001 he was a First-Team All-American for the Hoosiers, becoming the first player in FBS history to pass for 6,000 yards and also rush for 3,000 yards in his career.
He played in 80 games for the Steelers, catching 184 passes for 2,265 yards and seven receiving touchdowns. But his best-remembered play is the 43-yard touchdown pass he threw to Hines Ward in Super Bowl XL, giving the Steelers the insurance touchdown needed to close the door on the Seattle Seahawks.
Earlier this year he won another Super Bowl ring as an offensive assistant with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In February he was hired by the Detroit Lions to be the team’s new wide receivers coach.
Craig Heyward and Flozell Adams, Too
There are two other former players on the ballot with a connection to the Steelers, including Craig ‘Ironhead’ Heyward, who was a running back at the University of Pittsburgh before going on to play for the New Orleans Saints, as well as the Bears, Falcons, Rams and Colts.
Heyward is the late father of Steelers defensive end Cameron Heyward, who tweeted out a highlight reel from his dad’s days at Pitt, in which Ironhead looks vaguely reminiscent of Steelers Hall of Famer Jerome Bettis but also displays hurdling ability not unlike that of Steelers 2021 first-round pick Najee Harris.
Also nominated is longtime NFL offensive tackle Flozell Adams (Michigan State), who spent almost all of his five-time Pro Bowl career with the Dallas Cowboys, but played right tackle for the Steelers in 2010, his last year in the league.
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