ATLANTA — Art Monk is best remembered as a star receiver for the Washington Redskins.
Monk’s four-year college career, however, is less recognized outside Syracuse, where he serves on the school’s board of trustees.
“What I did in college does get overshadowed, so something like this is great,” Monk said. “You get to step back out into the forefront and say, ‘Hey, I wasn’t just a great professional athlete, but I also did some things in college that were worth being recognized.”
Monk, Ty Detmer, Dave Casper, Charles Alexander, Art Shell and Jimmy Johnson were among 24 former players and coaches enshrined into the College Football Hall of Fame on Wednesday night.
The hall has moved from South Bend, Ind., but the new building in downtown Atlanta is still under construction and scheduled to open in August 2014.
Atlanta was hosting its first enshrinement ceremony in a hotel ballroom adjacent to what will be a 94,256-square foot museum that organizers believe will host 500,000 visitors each year.
Atlanta is home to the Southeastern Conference championship game, the Chick-fil-A Bowl and the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic that this year matches up No. 1 Alabama against Virginia Tech on Saturday.
Other hall inductees included Steve Bartkowski, Jonathan Ogden, Phillip Fulmer and R.C. Slocum.
Monk was a first-round draft pick for Washington in 1980, helped the Redskins win three Super Bowls and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
For Alexander, getting enshrined in the college hall carried deep meaning.
Alexander left LSU in ’78 as the Southeastern Conference’s career leader in rushing yards and touchdowns. He was a first-round draft pick by Cincinnati, helped the Bengals reach a Super Bowl, but was never a serious candidate for induction to the pro hall.
The 56-year-old Alexander always longed for the college hall of fame to call, but he wondered if that day would come.
“I wasn’t a highly recruited kid coming out of high school,” Alexander said. “I didn’t start in high school until my senior year. I didn’t start at LSU until my junior year, so I just continued to work hard, but I didn’t get here alone. Great coaches at LSU and great teammates and a great offensive line that blocked for me.”
Casper, who helped Notre Dame beat Alabama for the 1973 national title, became a pro hall inductee and Super Bowl champion as an Oakland Raiders tight end. He still enjoys his lifelong affiliations with his alma mater.
“The good thing is I don’t have to go to purgatory for being on the national championship team,” Casper said, grinning. “Notre Dame takes care of my purgatory problem.”
Other offensive players enshrined were Bartkowski (California quarterback who was the No. 1 overall NFL draft pick in 1975 by the Atlanta Falcons), split end Hal Bedsole (helped Southern Cal win the 1962 national title), Rice quarterback Tommy Kramer (set NCAA single-season passing record in 1976) and Colorado guard John Wooten (1958 All-American).
Defensive players included Colorado State cornerback Greg Myers (1995 Thorpe Award winner), Texas Tech tackle Gabe Rivera (1982 All-American), Kansas State linebacker Mark Simoneau (1999 Big 12 defensive player of the year) and Air Force safety Scott Thomas.
Organizers said that Johnson, Detmer, Ogden, Otis Armstrong and National Football Foundation chairman Archie Manning were unable to attend the event.
Johnson coached Miami to the 1987 national title. Detmer, a former BYU quarterback, won the 1990 Heisman Trophy. Ogden won the 1995 Outland Trophy as UCLA’s left tackle.
Armstrong left Purdue in 1972 as the Big Ten’s career leading rusher. Manning, a former Mississippi quarterback and father to NFL star QBs Peyton and Eli Manning, is recovering from back surgery.
Fulmer (led Tennessee to 1998 national title) and Slocum (Texas A&M’s career-leading winner in now-defunct Southwest Conference) were enshrined as coaches.
Shell was one of seven inductees from FBS or lower division schools — Washington University linebacker Shelby Jordan, Westminster (Pa.) quarterback Joe Micchia, Ithaca College fullback Jeff Wittman and coaches Frank Cignetti of West Virginia and Indiana (Pa.), Boots Donnelly of Austin Peay and Middle Tennessee State and Jess Dow of Southern Connecticut State.
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