One of the best Saints players in franchise history — tackle Willie Roaf — and New Orleans native Leonard Smith, a McNeese State defensive back, were among 14 players and two coaches to be named as members of the College Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2014, it was announced Thursday.
Roaf became Louisiana Tech’s first consensus All-American in his senior year (1992) while also being named a finalist for that season’s Outland Trophy, given to the best offensive lineman in college. The four-year letterman helped the Bulldogs go 25-16-3, never lost a game at home in Joe Aillet Stadium and blocked for two of the top five career rushers (Jason Cooper and Jason Davis) in the history of the school, whose first year in Division I-A (now known as the Football Bowl Subdivision) was Roaf’s freshman campaign.
After Roaf left Louisiana Tech, the Saints chose him No. 8 overall in the 1993 NFL Draft, and he played there through 2001. The second-highest Bulldog ever selected, Roaf was named to the Pro Bowl an astounding 11 times during a 13-year NFL career that led him to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2012.
Smith, meanwhile, played at McNeese State from 1980 to ‘82 and earned first team all-conference honors his final two seasons there. In 1982, he also hauled in Southland Conference and Louisiana Defensive Player of the Year awards, and he took in first-team Associated Press All-America honors.
Smith holds school and conference records with 17 career blocked kicks (punts, field goals and extra points). The team known in those days as the St. Louis Cardinals drafted Smith with the No. 17 overall pick of the 1983 NFL Draft, and he was second-team AP All-Pro in 1986.
No player in the history of the Southland, which today is part of the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) has been drafted at a higher spot than Smith was. Only Northwestern State’s John Stephens, who was drafted in 1988, has matched being taken No. 17 overall.
Also a part of the 2014 class is tight end Wesley Walls, who played for the Saints in 1994 and ‘95 and was a star at Ole Miss from 1985 to ‘88, the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame said.
Others players to be inducted at a ceremony in New York City on Dec. 9 are: defensive back Dre Bly (North Carolina, 1996 to ‘98), tackle Tony Boselli (Southern California, 1991 to ‘94), defensive tackle Dave Butz (Purdue, 1970 to ‘72), linebacker Shane Conlan (Penn State, 1983 to ‘86), quarterback Joe Hamilton (Georgia Tech, 1996 to ‘99), linebacker John Huard (Maine, 1964 to ‘66), halfback Darrin Nelson (Stanford, 1977 to’78; 1980 to ‘81), quarterback John Sciarra (UCLA, 1972 to ‘75), wide receiver Sterling Sharpe (South Carolina, 1983; 1985 to ‘87), the late linebacker Derrick Thomas (Alabama, 1985 to ‘88) and tailback LaDainian Tomlinson (Texas Christian, 1997 to 2000).
Coaches are Mike Bellotti, who was at Chico State in California from 1984 to ‘88 and Oregon from 1995 to 2008; and Jerry Moore, who was at North Texas (1979 to ‘80), Texas Tech (1981 to ‘85) and Appalachian State (1989 to ‘12).
Inductees were chosen from 75 All-America players and six coaches from the FBS and 87 players and 26 coaches from divisional ranks, the Hall said. Of the more than 5 million individuals who have played college football since 1869, only 948 players and 207 coaches have earned induction into the Hall, the place said.