Jackie Hunt Inducted Into College FB HOF

Marshall University legend Jackie Hunt was inducted into the National College Football Hall of Fame, Saturday, August 14, at the Hall in South Bend, Indiana. Hunt was one of six players and three coaches in the 2004 Divisional Hall of Fame Class announced by the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame. Hunt starred for Marshall from 1939-41 as a running back, defensive back, passer, receiver and punter, scoring 27 touchdowns in 1940.

Jon F. Hanson, Chairman of The National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame (NFF), announced Tuesday the Divisional Hall of Fame Class for 2004, which includes players and coaches from NCAA Divisions I-AA, II, III, and the NAIB/NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics). Hunt is included in this group, due to Marshall's "small-college" status during his career in the late 1930's and early 1940's (when Marshall was a member of the Buckeye Conference, 1933-38, and the WV Athletic Conference as a non-competing member, 1939-42. Marshall was in the NAIB nationally). He joins Harry K. "Cy" Young who played Marshall football in 1910-11, while a "Normal School" student, and who went on to play university-level football from 1913-1916 at Washington and Lee as Marshall's only two Hall of Fame players.

Frank Loria, who died in the Marshall football plane crash after coaching two seasons at MU, was inducted into the Hall of Fame a few years ago based on his outstanding playing career at Virginia Tech. There is additionally a memorial plaque at the Hall of Fame honoring the 75 persons who died in the plane crash of the Marshall football team returning from a game at East Carolina on November 14, 1970.

Since the first Divisional Class was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1996, 61 outstanding All-Americans and 26 coaches have been recognized with "college football's highest honor," said Hanson. "On behalf of the board of directors, members of our four Divisional Honors Courts, and our more than 13,000 members nationwide, we look forward to celebrating the accomplishments of these remarkable individuals." This year's full class, including Division I-A players like Joe Theismann, Barry Sanders, Jimbo Covert, Roger Werhli and coaches like Hayden Fry and Doug Dickie, were inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame during Enshrinement Ceremonies at the Hall, August 14, in South Bend, Indiana. The class includes the Divisional group:
Players School Position Years
Harold Davis, Westminster (PA), Back, 1953-56
Darrell Green, Texas A&I, Defensive Back, 1978, 1980-82 (and in his 20th year with the Washington Redskins, an all-pro cornerback)
Garney Henley, Huron (SD), Running Back, 1956-59
Jackie Hunt, Marshall, Back, 1938-41
Dan Ross, Northeastern (MA), Tight End, 1975-78
William Stromberg, Johns Hopkins (MD), Wide Receiver, 1978-81
Coaches School(s) Years Record Win %
Thomas Beck, Illinois Benedictine, Elmhurst (IL), Grand Valley State (MI), 1970-74, 1976-83, 1985-90, 137-52-1, .724
Charlie Richard, Baker (KS), 1980-90, 1992-94, 123-28-1, .813
Dick Strahm, Findlay (OH), 1975-97, 178-59-5, .746

Here is a biography on John Seva "Jackie" Hunt:

Jackie Hunt Marshall University (Marshall College 1867-1961) Running Back/Passer/Defensive Back/Punter/Return Man, 1938-41

Jackie Hunt is one of the most celebrated and revered players in Thundering Herd football history, perhaps the greatest Marshall player prior to World War II. A talented two-way back, he set numerous records while marking his place in Marshall lore. A two-time First Team Associated Press "Little" All-America selection (1940-41), Hunt scored 27 touchdowns in 1940. This set an NCAA record that would stand for 31 years, until it was broken by Penn State's Lydell Mitchell in 1971. His 162 points scored in ten games in 1940 set a Marshall record that wasn't broken until1996, when Randy Moss scored 28 touchdowns in 15 games for the undefeated NCAA I-AA National Champions. Amassing 1,956 career rushing yards on only touchdown runs, plus numerous yardage picked up as a back, return man and receiver, NCAA estimates make Hunt the first ever to reach 3,000 career all-purpose yards. Marshall estimates put his rushing total at 3,900 yards alone and guess his all-purpose total to nearer 5,000 yards.

He scored 43 touchdowns in his career at Marshall from 1939-41, after being a two-time First Team All-State player for the Huntington High School Pony Express in 1936 and 1937. Hunt, who played freshman football in 1938 after spurning offers to play for other schools besides hometown Marshall College, helped lead Marshall to a 9-2 mark in 1939, 8-2 in 1940 and 7-1 in 1941, including an upset of Wake Forest and their famed coach, "Peahead" Walker, by the score of 16-6 at Marshall's Fairfield Stadium (1928-1990). Nationally-renowed sportswriter Grantland Rice chose Hunt among his 10 All-American backs for Collier's Magazine national team in 1940 and said of Hunt "For all around talent, I doubt there is a better back in the Nation than Jackie Hunt. Hunt could do more things better than any other back; ball carrying, passing, kicking, blocking and tackling." rice felt Hunt was every bit the back of major college All-Americans Tom Harmon (who won the 1940 Heisman Trophy) of Michigan or Jack Kimbrough of Texas A&M, but the Herd's "small" college status kept Hunt off some voting lists. Hunt was tri-MVP of Marshall team in 1940, winning trip to tour Hollywood (where he was pictured with Judy Garland at the MGM Studio lot) and attended the 1941 Rose Bowl on New Year's Day.

Hunt was also named to First Team All-American by the New York Sun and Collier's Magazine "Eye on Little All-Americans"; Selected Second Team All-American by Paul Williamson's National All-American Team; and Honorable Mention All-American by United Press International, as well as for the 1940 East-West All-Star Game (unable to play with junior eligibility). He was First Team All-West Virginia Athletic Conference in both 1940 and 1941. In the 1941 season, Hunt scored nine touchdowns and against Omaha, rushed for 220 yards on only 15 carries (14.7 yards per carry for the game!). Hunt appeared in the 1941 Blue-Gray Game and College All-Star versus NFL games against the Chicago Bears and against the Philadelphia Eagles in the summer of 1942. Hunt became the first person elected to the Marshall Athletic Hall of Fame in 1984.

Following his collegiate playing career and graduation from Marshall, the Bears had selected Hunt in the eleventh round of the NFL Draft in the spring of 1942. But "Uncle Sam" drafted him into the U.S. Army to fight for the United States in World War II and he left immediately following the college All-Star games. Upon his return to the United States in 1945, Hunt joined the Bears of the National Football League and spent only two seasons (1945-46) in professional football, playing cornerback.

A constant supporter and loyal booster of the Marshall athletics program over the years, he was inducted into the West Virginia Sports Writers Hall of Fame in 1976. Hunt died in 1991 at the age of 71. He was married to the former May Evelyn Gillette (Marshall '44), a former school teacher, and they resided in Proctorville, Ohio, just across the Ohio River from Huntington, WV, where Marshall is located. Mrs. Hunt attended the ceremonies in South Bend, helped to the inductees platform at the press conference by both Barry Sanders and Hayden Fry. Mrs. Hunt told reporters, "I am very happy for Jackie. I believe he is very deserving of this honor and would be very honored to be a part of this group today." Sanders, Green and other Hall of Fame members were impressed with Hunt's 27 touchdowns in a season and other stats, reported Randy Burnside, Marshall Sports Information Director, who attended with Marshall Director of Athletics Bob Marcum and "Voice of the Herd" Steve Cotton.

Hunt will be honored at Marshall at the half-time of the nationally televised game with the Miami RedHawks, on Wednesday, September 29, on ESPN. Mrs. Hunt will attend the ceremony, along with members of the National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame.

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