Thursday, April 30, 2009
Brown, Torretta in new Hall class
ESPN.com news services
NEW YORK -- Tim Brown played on a high school football team that won four games in three seasons and he went to Notre Dame thinking about a career as a computer scientist.
Gino Torretta went to Miami because Stanford didn't want him. He wasn't sure he'd ever get to start for the Hurricanes, but football was at least a path to a free education.
College Hall of Fame, Class of 2009
Pervis Atkins, New Mexico State HB
Tim Brown, Notre Dame WR
Chuck Cecil, Arizona DB
Ed Dyas, Auburn FB
Major Harris, West Virginia QB
Gordon Hudson, BYU TE
William Lewis, Harvard player
Woodrow Lowe, Alabama LB
Ken Margerum, Stanford WR
Steve McMichael, Texas DL
John Robinson, UCLA/UNLV coach
Chris Spielman, Ohio State LB
Larry Station, Iowa LB
Pat Swilling, Georgia Tech DE
Gino Torretta, Miami QB
Curt Warner, Penn State RB
Grant Wistrom, Nebraska DE
Brown and Torretta didn't begin their college careers aspiring to be Heisman Trophy winners and Hall of Famers, but that's what they became.
The two Heisman winners were among the 18 players and coaches selected to the College Football Hall of Fame on Tuesday.
"When you picked up a helmet and a football when you were 8, 9 years old, the last thing you thought about was ending up in the College Football Hall of Fame," said Brown, the 1987 Heisman winner for Notre Dame.
Brown and Torretta, the former Miami quarterback, and former Syracuse coach Dick MacPherson were at a news conference at the Nasdaq stock market to announce the National Football Foundation's latest Hall of Fame class.
"To be able to be selected in this tremendously honored group, there's nowhere to go from here," MacPherson said.
Others selected for induction were: Ohio State linebacker Chris Spielman; Penn State running back Curt Warner; New Mexico State halfback Pervis Atkins; Arizona defensive back Chuck Cecil; Auburn fullback Ed Dyas; West Virginia quarterback Major Harris; BYU tight end Gordon Hudson; Alabama linebacker Woodrow Lowe; Stanford receiver Ken Margerum, Texas defensive lineman Steve McMichael; Iowa linebacker Larry Station; Georgia Tech defensive end Pat Swilling; and Nebraska defensive end Grant Wistrom.
The NFF's veteran's committee selected William Lewis, who played center for Harvard from 1892 to '93 and was the first black player to be picked as an All-American by Walter Camp, one of the pioneers of the game.
John Robinson, who coached Southern California and UNLV, will also be inducted in December.
Brown grew up in Dallas and was the best player on a bad high school team. It left him humble.
"I had no reason to be jumping for joy. Everybody was 5-foot-9 and I was 5-11," Brown said. "I went to college to get a great education. That's why I chose the University of Notre Dame. I was content with just doing that until Lou Holtz got there."
Holtz became the Fighting Irish coach in 1986, two years after Brown arrived in South Bend, Ind. Holtz revitalized the program and pushed Brown to aspire to greatness.
"When Lou got there he started putting more pressure on me and putting me in position to really succeed," Brown said. "All of sudden I realized I could be more than just a good football player."
Brown became one of the most dynamic players in the country.
During his junior season in 1986, he set a Notre Dame record with 1,937 all-purpose yards. The next year, Brown caught 39 passes, scored three touchdowns and became Notre Dame's first Heisman winner since 1964.
Brown went on to be drafted in the first round by the Oakland Raiders and became one of the most productive receivers in NFL history, recording 10 consecutive seasons of at least 75 catches.
Torretta grew up just outside of San Francisco, wanting to play for the Cardinal.
"I knew Stanford's education was very valuable and a great degree and that's the way I looked at it. I was going to have an opportunity to get a scholarship but to me that meant it paid for my education," he said.
"Unfortunately, [Stanford] said I wasn't good enough -- or fortunately."
Torretta's brother, Geoff, was the backup quarterback to Miami's first Heisman Trophy winner, Vinny Testaverde, and hardly ever played.
When the Hurricanes recruited Gino, they warned him he might end up following his brother's path.
"It's awful hard to turn down, when you go into their offices and the last five [starting quarterbacks] are on the cover of Sports Illustrated," Torretta said. "I wanted to have a chance to win a national championship."
Torretta started his final two college seasons, won the 1992 Heisman and went 26-2 as a starter.
"Everything worked out, we won a couple of titles," he said. "You do good things and you're a good person, you end up in good places."