Wesley Walls: College Football Hall of Famer
IRVING, Texas – Former Ole Miss All-American Wesley Walls, a rare two-way player in modern college football, has been selected to the College Football Hall of Fame Class of 2014 as announced Thursday by the National Football Foundation.
One of the most acclaimed players in Ole Miss history, Walls received first team All-America honors in 1988 at tight end while also being recognized as an NFF National Scholar-Athlete.
The Pontotoc, Mississippi, native, who went on to enjoy a successful NFL career, becomes the ninth former player or coach to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as an Ole Miss Rebel. Two other members of the Ole Miss family have also been enshrined in the hall.
Bruiser Kinard (1951), Charlie Conerly (1965), Barney Poole (1974), John Vaught (1979), Doug Kenna (1984), Pie Vann (1987), Archie Manning (1989), Parker Hall (1991), Jake Gibbs (1995), and Charlie Flowers (1997) are previous Rebels inducted into college football’s shrine.
Kenna, who played at Ole Miss as a freshman, was inducted as an Army player. Vann, who captained the 1928 Ole Miss football team, was inducted as a USM coach.
After playing strictly as a defensive end his first three seasons in Oxford, Walls transformed into a two-way player his senior year when the team needed a tight end. The 1988 team captain amassed 36 receptions for 426 yards and three touchdowns at tight end en route to earning AP first team All-America and All-SEC honors.
As a defensive end, he recorded 140 career tackles, including 19.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks, and he led the Rebels to a win in the 1986 Independence Bowl. One of the most memorable moments of his Rebel career came in the 1988 Alabama game when Ole Miss upset the 12th-ranked Tide 22-12 in Tuscaloosa and did not allow a pass completion all game. Walls had seven catches for 79 yards and a key QB sack in the victory.
An Academic All-America and three-time academic all-conference selection, Walls was chosen as a member of the 1980s All-SEC Team and honored as an SEC Legend in 2007.
Chosen by the San Francisco 49ers in the second round of the 1989 NFL Draft, Walls enjoyed a decorated 15-year NFL career, helping the 49ers win Super Bowl XXIV during his rookie campaign. A five-time Pro Bowl selection and three-time All-Pro selection, he also played for the New Orleans Saints, Carolina Panthers and Green Bay Packers.
Walls currently works as a real estate developer, and he serves as president and CEO of Delta Furniture Manufacturing. Active in the community, he endowed a football scholarship at Ole Miss, and he was inducted into the Ole Miss Sports Hall of Fame in 2005 and the Independence Bowl Hall of Honor in 2001. He received the Distinguished American Award from the Ole Miss chapter of the National Football Foundation in 2009.
The 16-member 2014 class of the College Football Hall of Fame will be inducted together at the 57th NFF Annual Awards Dinner on Dec. 9, 2014, at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City. The inductees will also be honored at the National Hall of Fame Salute at the Allstate Sugar Bowl in New Orleans on Jan. 1, 2015, and they will be recognized at their respective collegiate institutions with on-campus salutes during the fall. Their accomplishments will be forever immortalized in the new $66.5 million College Football Hall of Fame, currently under construction in Atlanta and scheduled to open in August 2014.
The Class of 2014:
°Dre Bly – DB, North Carolina (1996-98)
° Tony Boselli – OT, Southern California (1991-94)
° Dave Butz – DT, Purdue (1970-72)
° Shane Conlan – LB, Penn State (1983-86)
°Joe Hamilton – QB, Georgia Tech (1996-99)
·° John Huard – LB, Maine (1964-66)
* Darrin Nelson – HB, Stanford (1977-78, 1980-81)
° Willie Roaf – OL, Louisiana Tech (1990-92)
° John Sciarra – QB, UCLA (1972-75)
° Sterling Sharpe – WR, South Carolina (1983, 1985-87)
° Leonard Smith – CB, McNeese State (1979-82)
° Derrick Thomas (deceased) – LB, Alabama (1985-88)
° LaDainian Tomlinson – TB, Texas Christian (1997-00)
° Wesley Walls – TE, Ole Miss (1985-88)
° Mike Bellotti – Coach, Chico State (Calif.) (1984-88) and Oregon (1995-08)
° Jerry Moore – Coach, North Texas (1979-80), Texas Tech (1981-85) and Appalachian State (1989-12)