WSU's Mike Utley elected to College Football Hall of Fame

COUGREAT MIKE UTLEY received the ultimate college football honor on Friday with the announcement from the National Football Foundation that Utley has been elected to the College Football Hall of Fame.

Utley was a three-time All-Pac-10 selection at guard for the Cougs from 1985-88, his final two seasons as a first-team pick, and was named consensus All-America his senior season in 1988.  He was inducted into Washington State’s Hall of Fame in 2004, and the team’s Offensive Lineman of the Year Award carries his name.

Utley becomes the fourth Cougar player to enter to the Hall of Fame and sixth member overall, joining Mel Hein, Turk Edwards and Rueben Mayes. WSU coaches William Henry "Lone Star" Dietz and Babe Hollingbery are also in the Hall of Fame. (Forrest Eveshevski is as well, but mostly for his work at Iowa).

“This is very overwhelming,” Utley said in a WSU release. “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.”

Utley was named team MVP as a senior after anchoring one of the most prolific offenses in school history (No. 1 in Pac-10, No. 3 nationally in '88) including 3,000-yard passer Timm Rosenbach and a pair of 1,000-yard rushers in Steve Broussard and Rich Swinton.  Utley also led the Cougars to their first-ever win against a No. 1 team that season at UCLA and their 9-3 record that included a victory in the Aloha Bowl. WSU finished No. 16 in the AP poll in '88.

“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.”

After a school record 43 straight starts, Utley was taken in the third round of the 1989 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions. He played three seasons in the NFL, starting the first 11 games in 1991 for Detroit before suffering a spinal cord injury that left him paralyzed from the chest and elbows down. He has since regained the use of his shoulders, arms and hands, and has partial movement in his legs.

Since his paralysis, Utley has won dozens of awards for community service and his work with those suffering from spinal cord injuries.

He received the WSU Alumni Achievement Award in 2007 and the Walter Camp Man of the Year Award in 2006.

“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.

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