More than 13 years after running to the top of the NCAA career rushing list, former Wisconsin running back Ron Dayne has been chosen to join an elite group. On Tuesday, the National Football Foundation announced that Dayne will be immortalized as part of the College Football Hall of Fame Class of 2013.
"I'm very excited and thrilled to be mentioned with the greatest names in college football history," Dayne said. "This is a tremendous honor for me and the university. As with everything in my career, I see this as a team honor and something I never could have achieved without my teammates and coaches."
Dayne finished his career as college football's all-time leading rusher. The official NCAA record book credits him with 6,397 career rushing yards, most in FBS history. Including bowl games, Dayne rushed for 7,125 total yards as a Badger.
As a senior, Dayne became the second player in Badgers' history to win the Heisman Trophy, racking up 2,034 rushing yards and scoring 20 touchdowns. That year he also won the Maxwell Award, Walter Camp Player of the Year Award, Doak Walker Award, Chicago Tribune Silver Football and was a unanimous, consensus first-team All-American.
Dayne helped lead UW to back-to-back Big Ten titles and Rose Bowl championships in 1998 and 1999. A member of the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame, he is one of just four players to ever be named MVP of "The Grandaddy of Them All" twice.
Dayne burst onto the college football scene as a freshman, running for a then-FBS record 1,863 yards in the regular season (Adrian Peterson broke the record with 1,925 yards as a freshman in 2004). Dayne added 246 yards and Copper Bowl MVP honors to finish the season with 2,109 yards despite not starting the first four games of the season.
As a sophomore, Dayne was a finalist for the Doak Walker Award and a first-team All-American from College Football News. Despite missing two full games and parts of two others, he still ranked fifth nationally with an average of 142.0 rushing yards per game (1,457 total yards).
Dayne was again a finalist for the Doak Walker Award as a junior, leading the Big Ten in rushing and earning Walter Camp first-team All-America honors. He led the Badgers' upset of No. 6 UCLA in the 1999 Rose Bowl, rushing for 246 yards and earning game MVP honors. That game also set the stage for his Heisman Trophy campaign the following season.
"In my opinion, Ron was simply the most dominant running back that ever played college football," said Dayne's former coach, current Wisconsin Director of Athletics Barry Alvarez. "If the rules back then were the same as they are now, with bowl games counting towards his career rushing total, no one would even come close to touching his record. We've had a lot of great players come through here but when people think of Wisconsin football, they think of Ron Dayne running the football."
Dayne's No. 33 was officially retired by Wisconsin in 2007. He was elected to the UW Athletics Hall of Fame in 2009.
Dayne becomes the 13th former Badgers' player or coach to be elected to the College Football Hall of Fame. The most recent inductee was his former coach, as Alvarez was a member of the Class of 2010. Dayne is the fourth former UW running back in the Hall of Fame, joining Wisconsin's only other Heisman Trophy winner, Alan Ameche, along with Pat Harder and Elroy "Crazylegs" Hirsch.
The 2013 College Football Hall of Fame Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) Class will be inducted at the 56th NFF Annual Awards Dinner on Dec. 10, 2013, at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City. They will be honored guests at the National Hall of Fame Salute at the Allstate Sugar Bowl in New Orleans on Jan. 2, 2014 and officially enshrined in the summer of 2014.
Badgers in the College Football Hall of Fame
• Barry Alvarez, Coach, Class of 2010
• Alan Ameche, RB, Class of 1975
• Marty Below, OL, Class of 1988
• Robert Butler, OL, Class of 1972
• Ron Dayne, RB, Class of 2013
• Pat Harder, FB, Class of 1993
• Elroy "Crazylegs" Hirsch, RB, Class of 1974
• Phil King, Coach, Class of 1962
• George Little, Coach, Class of 1955
• Pat O'Dea, P, Class of 1962
• Pat Richter, WR, Class of 1996
• Dave Schreiner, End, Class of 1955
• Harry Stuhldreher, Coach, Class of 1958
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