UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A pair of standouts from Penn State’s 1986 National Championship team are among the candidates under consideration for the National Football Foundation’s College Hall of Fame.
First-team All-Americans D.J. Dozier and Steve Wisniewski have been selected for the national ballot for the Hall of Fame’s Class of 2012. They have an opportunity to join 17 former Nittany Lion players and five Penn State coaches who have been inducted into the Hall.
Curt Warner, Penn State’s career rushing leader until the 2010 season, was inducted into the Hall in 2009 and was formally enshrined in the Hall of Fame in 2010. Late head coach Joe Paterno was inducted in 2007.
The College Football Hall of Fame is moving to a new facility in Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park area.
A tailback, Dozier matriculated to Happy Valley from Virginia Beach, Va. and earned first team All-America honors from the Walter Camp Football Foundation in 1986. Dozier is the only Nittany Lion to lead the team in rushing four consecutive seasons, doing so from 1983-86. He ranks No. 5 on the school career rushing yardage list with 3,227 yards, scoring 25 touchdowns and averaging 5.2 yards per attempt. Dozier gained 1,002 yards as a freshman and tallied 811 yards and scored 10 touchdowns as a senior and one of the instrumental players on the Nittany Lions’ 12-0 squad.
Dozier will forever have a place in Penn State Football lore for scoring the game-winning touchdown on a six-yard fourth quarter run to lift the Nittany Lions past Miami, 14-10, in the 1987 Fiesta Bowl. A standout at Kempsville High School, he earned Most Valuable Offensive Player of the Game honors by rushing for 99 yards and making two catches for 21 yards in the thriller over the Hurricanes.
Dozier was selected by the Minnesota Vikings in the first round of the 1987 NFL Draft and played four seasons with the Vikings and the 1991 campaign with the Detroit Lions. A four-year letterwinner at Penn State, he also played baseball in the New York Mets’ farm system.
Wisniewski was a three-year starter at guard for the Nittany Lions who would go on to become an All-Pro lineman in the NFL. He was one of two sophomores to start on the 1986 National Championship team and he opened holes for two first-team All-America running backs, Blair Thomas (1987) and Dozier (1986). One of just four Penn State offensive linemen to earn a pair of first-team All-America honors, he was recognized in 1988 by the American Football Coaches (AFCA) and repeated All-America accolades from Sporting News. A 1988 team captain, Wisniewski is one of just two offensive linemen to earn Penn State’s team MVP honor since its creation in 1978.
From Westfield High School in Houston, Wisniewski was the first pick in the second round of the 1989 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys, who immediately traded his rights to the Los Angeles Raiders. Wisniewski was a mainstay for the Raiders from 1989-2001, starting the final 175 games of his career. He was selected to the Pro Bowl eight times, with six first team All-Pro selections. He was elected a Raiders team captain seven times, was named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team for the 1990′s and to Oakland’s 50-Year All-Raider Team. Wisniewski missed only two of a possible 208 career games.
Wisniewski is the assistant offensive line coach with the Raiders.
Wisniewski’s older brother, Leo, was a standout defensive lineman for the Nittany Lions from 1979-81. A nephew, Stefen, was a three-year starter on Penn State’s offensive line, earning first-team All-America honors in 2010. He became the first Nittany Lion to earn Academic All-America honors three times and was selected by the Raiders in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft. Stefen Wisniewski started all 16 games for Oakland last season.
To be eligible for the Hall of Fame ballot, players must have been named a First Team All-America by a major/national selector as recognized and utilized by the NCAA for their consensus All-America teams; played their last year of intercollegiate football at least 10 years prior to nomination; played within the last 50 years and cannot be currently playing professional football. Once nominated for consideration, all player candidates are submitted to one of eight District Screening Committees, which conducts a vote to determine who will appear on the ballot and represent their respective districts.