Another year, another College Football Hall of Fame ballot for two of Syracuse’s greatest players of the last 25 years. Marvin Harrison (#18 on the Fizz 100) and Dwight Freeney (#12) are on a ballot of 78 players and 7 coaches from the FBS. The Class of ’22 will be announced early next year, and then formally enshrined in December ’22. There will be on-campus salutes and then induction into the CFB Hall of Fame in Atlanta.
This is the fourth straight year Harrison is on the ballot, and the second consecutive season for Freeney. There is no doubt both players are Syracuse legends, but a minuscule .02% of CFB players all-time get into the Hall of Fame. So with all this waiting, will Harrison and Freeney eventually get in?
Here’s the cases for both, as outlined by the Hall:
Dwight Freeney, Syracuse-Defensive End (2001) unanimous First Team All-American who holds the NCAA record for career sacks per game (1.61)… 2001 Big East Co-Defensive Player of the Year, finishing career as the conference’s all-time leader in single-season sacks (17.5 in 2001)… Holds the Syracuse record for career TFL (50.5).
Marvin Harrison, Syracuse-Kick Returner/Wide Receiver (1995) First Team All-American as a kick returner and 1995 Big East Special Teams Player of the Year… Three-time All-Big East selection who set a conference record with a 94-yard punt return for a TD in 1995… Left Syracuse as the school’s all-time receiving leader (2,718 yards).
There are some no-brainers on this list. Reggie Bush, Michael Crabtree, Josh Heupel, Rashaan Salaam, and Andrew Luck are all part of this ballot. Starting with Freeney, he’s no doubt a CFB Hall of Famer. He averaged more sacks per game than any player in the history of the sport. That should be all he needs. He also set the single-season Big East record, and his display against Virginia Tech in ’00 is one of the single-greatest moments in school history. His three-hour chase down of Michael Vick was a sight to behold for all of us in the Dome that day. Four and a half sacks of a man that simply couldn’t be caught in college. In ’01 he was even better, forcing an NCAA record 11 fumbles that season. Amazing.
Harrison might be a little less clear. He had 135 receptions in his SU career, 13 100-yard games, and a crazy 20.2 yards per catch. That final stat might be his greatest accomplishment. In his three seasons as a starter, he averaged 20 yards per reception. He was a big play threat every time he touched the ball. But it was an era before exploding passing stats, and Syracuse was built from a conservative, run-first offense. In the Gator Bowl he had 7 catches, 173 yards, proving he produced in big games. But he never caught more than 56 passes, had only one 1,000 yard season, and scored “only” 20 touchdowns for his career. For modern context, the first wideout taken in the NFL Draft was Ja’Marr Chase. In his last year at LSU, Chase had 84 catches, 1,780 yards and 20 touchdowns. In a season.
Harrison’s true dominance happened in the NFL when the Colts perfectly paired him with a historic quarterback and explosive offense. Harrison became an unquestioned Pro Football Hall of Famer. But he was also admired enough by scouts to be a first-round pick, and considered by most to be the greatest WR the Orange has ever produced, including Art Monk and Rob Moore. Harrison’s collegiate career wasn’t as elite as Freeney’s, but yes he belongs in the CFB HOF as well.