PULLMAN, Wash. - Former Washington State All-America offensive lineman Mike Utley has been selected for induction into the College Football Hall of Fame, the National Football Foundation announced Friday.
“This is very overwhelming,” said Utley. “Washington State University and head coach Jim Walden gave me an opportunity and I told him I would give 100 percent of myself. Playing for the Cougars was a wonderful experience and hopefully I’ve been able to pay it forward.”
Joining Utley in the Class of 2016 are quarterback Marlin Briscoe (Nebraska Omaha, 1964-67), linebacker Derrick Brooks (Florida State, 1991-94), linebacker Tom Cousineau (Ohio State, 1975-78), quarterback/punter Randall Cunningham (UNLV, 1982-84), tailback Troy Davis (Iowa State, 1994-96), defensive tackle William Fuller (North Carolina, 1981-83), quarterback Bert Jones (LSU, 1970-72), defensive lineman Tim Krumrie (Wisconsin, 1979-82), tight end Pat McInally (Harvard, 1972-74), defensive end Herb Orvis (Colorado, 1969-71), linebacker Bill Royce (Ohio, 1990-93), defensive back Scott Woerner (Georgia, 1977-80) and defensive back Rod Woodson (Purdue, 1983-86).
Additionally, two coaches were named to the induction class, Bill Bowes, who amassed a career record of 175-106-5 at New Hampshire; and Frank Girardi, who boasts a career record of 257-97-5 while coaching at Lycoming (Pa.).
“I speak for Cougars everywhere when I say how proud we are of Mike receiving this prestigious and well deserved honor,” said WSU Director of Athletics Bill Moos. “He was a dominating player and truly one of the best to ever play the game. “
Utley is the first Cougar player to be inducted into the Hall of Fame since running back Rueben Mayes was enshrined in 2008. Additional Cougars in the College Hall of Fame include tackle Glen "Turk" Edwards (1929-31), enshrined in 1975, and center Mel Hein (1928-30), who was the first Cougar to be inducted in 1954.
He also joins head coaches Orin "Babe" Hollingbery (1979), Forest "Evy" Evashevski (2000) and William "Lone Star" Dietz (2012), giving WSU seven individuals in the Hall of Fame. Hollingbery coached WSU from 1926-42, Evashevski from 1950-51 and Dietz from 1915-17.
“At the end of the day I hope I represented Washington State University in a manner my parents would be proud, and I believe I have,” said Utley.
Utley, who played for the Cougars from 1984-88, concluded his senior campaign as a Consensus First-Team All-American, only the second in school history. He received All-America First-Team honors from the Associated Press, United Press International, Scripps-Howard, Football News, the Football Writers of America and the American Football Coaches Association. A two-time All-Pacific-10 Conference First-Team selection, Utley helped the Cougars to a 9-3 record and a victory over Houstonin the 1988 Aloha Bowl. That same season he was selected to play in the Hula Bowl, East-West Shrine Game and the Senior Bowl.
“My fondest memory of Washington State, and it was two different occasions, was the first time I ran out of the tunnel, in uniform, into Martin Stadium and the last time I ran through the tunnel into Martin Stadium,” said Utley. “That was always a special feeling but those two times continue to mean a lot to me.”
Drafted by Detroit Lions in the third round of the 1989 draft, Utley played in 32 games with the Lions, starting all 11 during the 1991 season before suffering a career-ending spinal cord injury against the Los Angeles Rams, Nov. 17, 1991.
In 1992, he established the Mike Utley Foundation, to provide funding for research, rehabilitation and education for those living with spinal cord injuries. The Mike Utley Foundation encourages those disabled by such injuries to expand their potential through rehabilitation, physical training, education and a determined pursuit of personal goals. In addition to innovative research, the Foundation financially supports rehabilitation projects, patient and family assistance programs, patient equipment, patient and family education and therapeutic recreational programs.
A 2007 recipient of the WSU Alumni Achievement Award, Utley has also received the Walter Camp Football Foundation Man of the Year (2007), the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame Courage Award (2003), and the Detroit Lions Spirit Award (1997), now named the Mike Utley Spirit Award. He was also inducted into the Washington State Athletic Hall of Fame in 2004.