At Saturday’s game in Norman, the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame will honor Clendon Thomas with an on-campus salute.
From the press release out of Dallas:
DALLAS, Sept. 27, 2011 - The University of Oklahoma and The National Football Foundation (NFF) & College Hall of Fame announced today that they will jointly honor Clendon Thomas with an NFF Hall of Fame On-Campus Salute, presented by Fidelity Investments®, on Oct. 1 during the game between the Sooners and Ball State. Coverage of the game will start at 7:00 p.m. ET, and it will be available through Fox Sports Net’s pay-per-view.
“There are a lot of great players that have played this game,” Thomas said when his induction was announced on May 17. “The odds are not real good (to be selected). With all the great teammates I had, this is humbling.”
The NFF Hall of Fame On-Campus Salute program is a hallowed tradition that began with the inaugural class in 1951, and to this day the salutes remain the first of numerous activities in each inductee’s Hall of Fame experience. During the NFF Hall of Fame On-Campus Salutes, each inductee from the Football Bowl Subdivision returns to his alma mater to accept a Hall of Fame plaque that will remain on permanent display at the institution. The events take place on the field during a home game, and many inductees cite the experience as the ultimate capstone to their careers, providing them one more chance to take the field and hear the crowd roar their name.
A consensus All-American in 1957, Thomas played a pivotal role in the Sooners back-to-back national title wins in 1955 and 1956 under College Football Hall of Fame coach Bud Wilkinson, and he participated on several of the winningest teams in college football history, enjoying a 31-1 record during his stay in Norman. A major cog in Oklahoma’s record 47-game winning streak, his efforts also helped the Sooners win three consecutive, undefeated Big 7 Conference championships.
“Clendon Thomas was one heck of a player,” said NFF President and CEO Steve Hatchell. “His combination of speed, strength and size made him a prized piece of the puzzle in Bud Wilkinson’s national championship teams. It will be a thrill to honor him in front of the Sooner fans on October 1.”
Thomas totaled 2,156 rushing yards in his three seasons (1955-57), never averaging less than 6.3 yards per attempt. The two-time All-Big 7 performer led the nation in scoring in 1956 and paced the Sooners’ scoring as a junior and a senior. Thomas finished ninth in 1957 Heisman Trophy voting. Thomas was a second round selection as a defensive back in the 1958 NFL Draft by the Los Angeles Rams. He played 11 seasons with the Rams and the Pittsburgh Steelers, appearing in 137 games with 27 interceptions and 10 fumble recoveries. Thomas appeared in the 1963 Pro Bowl and was named a Second Team All-Pro three times.
Thomas is the founding president of Putnam City Schools Foundation and served on the Fellowship of Christian Athletes’ national board of directors. He has also served on the selection committee for Armed Services Academies and as an executive board member of the Jim Thorpe Association. Thomas, who was enlisted in the Army Reserves for six years, founded and operated Chemical Products Corp. for 25 years. Still involved in business, he and his wife Soni reside in Oklahoma City. They have two children.
Thomas becomes the 19th Sooner player to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. Recent inductees (with year of induction) include Tom Brahaney(2007), Joe Washington (2005), Tony Casillas (2004), Keith Jackson(2001), and Kurt Burris (2000). Hall of Fame coaches with stops in Norman include Barry Switzer (2001), Jim Tatum (1984), Bud Wilkinson (1969),Lawrence Jones (1954), and Bennie Owen (1951). Including the 2011 FBS class, only 900 players and 194 coaches have been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame from the nearly five million who have played or coached the game over the past 143 years. In other words, less than .0002 percent have been deemed worthy of this distinction. For a complete list of players and coaches in the hall, please visit www.collegefootball.org.
This year’s class includes: Carlos Alvarez (Florida), Doug English (Texas), Bill Enyart (Oregon State), Eddie George (Ohio State), Marty Lyons (Alabama),Russell Maryland (Miami, Fla.), Deion Sanders (Florida State), Jake Scott(Georgia), Will Shields (Nebraska), Sandy Stephens (Minnesota), Darryl Talley (West Virginia), Clendon Thomas (Oklahoma), Rob Waldrop (Arizona),Gene Washington (Michigan State), coach Lloyd Carr (Michigan), and coachFisher DeBerry (Air Force).