INDIANAPOLIS — Before they were Colts on Sundays, they excelled on Saturdays.
That's not a unique story for most players that find their way into the Indianapolis Colts' organization, but some certainly dominated the college game more than others.
Only the best of the best are inducted each year into the College Football Hall of Fame. In fact, there have been more than five million college football players since Nov. 6, 1869, when Princeton took on Rutgers in the first-ever organized collegiate football game. Of those five million-plus players, 1,010 of them — less than two one-hundredths of a percent — have earned induction into the College Football Hall of Fame, according to the National Football Foundation (NFF).
So just to be nominated in itself is an honor, and on Monday, we learned 10 former Colts players were among those nominated for the College Football Hall of Fame Class of 2020.
Defensive back Ashley Ambrose, tight end Dallas Clark, running back Eric Dickerson, running back Keith Elias, wide receiver Marvin Harrison, running back Craig Heyward, tight end Pete Mitchell, center Ted Petersen, defensive back Tyrone Pool and linebacker Simeon Rice are among those being voted on by more than 12,000 NFF members and current Hall of Famers; their votes are submitted to the NFF's Honors Courts, which "will deliberate and select the class."
The announcement of the Class of 2020 will be made in January in the days leading up to the College Football Playoff National Championship in New Orleans. The class will officially be inducted during the 63rd NFF Annual Awards Dinner on Dec. 8, 2020, at the New York Hilton Midtown.
Here's a little on each Colts 2020 College Football Hall of Fame nominee, via the NFF:
» Ashley Ambrose, Defensive Back, Mississippi Valley State: 1991 First Team All-American and First Team All-SWAC selection…Named SWAC Defensive Back and Return Specialist of the Year in 1991…Led nation in punt returns during senior campaign. Selected by the Colts in the second round of the 1992 NFL Draft; played in Indianapolis from 1992-95 and, in 56 games with 12 starts, compiled 101 tackles, five interceptions, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
» Dallas Clark, Tight End, Iowa: 2002 unanimous First Team All-American and winner of the Mackey Award as the nation's best tight end…Two-time All-Big Ten selection who helped Iowa to a share of the 2002 Big Ten title and its first-ever 11-win season (2002)…Holds record for longest pass reception in school history (95 yards). Selected by the Colts in the first round of the 2003 NFL Draft; played in Indianapolis from 2003-11 and, in 115 games with 11 starts, compiled 427 receptions for 4,887 yards and 46 touchdowns.
» Eric Dickerson, Running Back, SMU: Named unanimous First Team All-American and finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1982…Twice named SWC Player of the Year, he holds 14 SMU records including career rushing yards (4,450). Acquired in a trade by the Colts in 1987; played in Indianapolis from 1987-1991 and, in 61 games with 55 starts, compiled 1,258 carries for 5,194 yards (4.1 yards per carry) and 32 touchdowns, as well as 138 receptions for 1,082 yards and another three scores through the air.
» Keith Elias, Running Back, Princeton: Two-time First Team All-American (1992-93) and 1993 Ivy League Player of the Year…Princeton's all-time leader in rushing yards (4,208) and rushing touchdowns (49)…Three-time All-Ivy performer who helped the Tigers to the 1992 conference title. Signed by the Colts as a free agent in 1998; played in Indianapolis from 1998-99 and, in 27 games, compiled 21 rushing attempts for 52 yards and five receptions for 27 yards.
» Marvin Harrison, Wide Receiver, Syracuse: 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). Selected by the Colts in the first round of the 1996 NFL Draft; played in Indianapolis from 1996-2008, and, in 190 games with 188 starts, compiled 1,102 receptions for 14,580 yards and 128 touchdowns.
» Craig Heyward, Running Back, Pittsburgh: 1987 consensus First Team All-American who led the nation in rushing his final season and finished fifth in Heisman voting…Left Pitt as the second-leading rusher in school history (behind only Tony Dorsett) with 3,086 career rushing yards…Rushed for at least 100 yards in every game of 1987 season. Signed by the Colts in 1998 and, in four games with three starts, compiled six rushing attempts for 15 yards and one reception for nine yards.
» Pete Mitchell, Tight End, Boston College: Two-time First Team All-American, earning consensus honors in 1994…Two-time First Team All-Big East performer, leading the conference in catches his last two seasons…Ranks second all-time at BC in career receptions (190) and third all-time in career receiving yards (2,388). Spent part of the 2003 season with the Colts.
» Ted Petersen, Center, Eastern Illinois: 1976 First Team All-America selection… Team captain who blocked for Nate Anderson, EIU's first-ever 1,000-yard rusher…Became school's highest-ever NFL Draft pick when he was selected 93rd overall (fourth round) in 1977. Acquired by the Colts during the 1984 season and played in five games with four starts with the team that year.
» Tyrone Poole, Defensive Back, Fort Valley State: First Team All-America selection in 1994…Two-time Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) Defensive Player of the Year (1993-94) who led FVSU to two conference titles…Recorded 44 pass breakups and 17 interceptions, returning four for TDs. Acquired by the Colts in a trade in 1998; played in Indianapolis from 1998-2000 and, in 45 games with 41 starts, compiled 150 tackles (four for a loss) with five interceptions, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and one sack.
» Simeon Rice, Linebacker, Illinois: Two-time First Team All-American and three-time First Team All-Big Ten selection…Holds conference and school record for career sacks (44.5) and Illini record for career tackles for loss (69)…Set school record for single-season sacks (16). Signed with the Colts as a free agent in 2007 and played in two games in Indianapolis that season, compiling one sack.