TAMPA, Fla.—The National Football Foundation (NFF) and College Hall of Fame announced the 2017 College Football Hall of Fame Class which includes 10 first-team All-America players and three standout coaches and among the group is the all-time leading tackler in Texas A&M history and only Aggie to lead the team in tackles four consecutive years, linebacker Dat Nguyen.
Nguyen was a unanimous first-team All-America selection in 1998 as well as the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year in helping the Aggies win the Big 12 Championship. Nguyen also brought home the Bednarik and Lombardi Awards as the Aggies reached the Sugar Bowl and finished the year with an 11-3 record.
“I have been so fortunate and I am truly honored and humbled by this award,” Nguyen said. “The game of football has taught me so much about life. I have been blessed with a wonderful family, a great football family and the outstanding Aggie network.”
In 1994 after graduating from Fulton High School in Rockport, Texas, Nguyen signed with College Football Hall of Fame coach R.C. Slocum, the winningest coach in Texas A&M history. Nguyen redshirted his first year and then started all 51 games he ever played for the Maroon and White. His 517 career tackles is still a school-record. He was honored as the 1998 Cotton Bowl Defensive MVP with 15 solo tackles in the game against UCLA and in the Big 12 title game in 1998 against Kansas State he recorded 17 tackles and had one interception.
“Dat Nguyen is so deserving of this award,” Slocum said. “He was an amazing player, starting for four straight seasons without missing a game. However, more important was the leadership he gave to our team through his great character and example.”
Nguyen was the 1995 Southwest Conference Freshman of the Year, was a two-time Aggie captain and earned Texas A&M Scholar-Athlete Awards in 1996, 1997 and 1998.
“I think back and any football honor is not about me, but about the team,” Nguyen explained. “As a guy wearing a blue shirt on the scout team, doubts creep in about not being able to play at the college level. Then you have other players, coaches, trainers, managers, SIDs, administrators encouraging me along the way. You have a dream as a young person and a mindset to continue to pursue that dream and give it your all, this is pretty amazing.”
“I learned more by visiting with guys from my entire team, both on the offensive as well as defensive side of the football,” Nguyen said. “I was so blessed by great teammates throughout my playing career.”
Nguyen has already been named to the Texas A&M, Cotton Bowl, Texas Sports and the Texas High School Football halls of fame.
After he completed his eligibility and earned his degree in agricultural development at Texas A&M, Nguyen was a third-round draft pick by the Dallas Cowboys and played his entire seven-year professional career with the franchise. He led the Cowboys in tackles in three seasons and was named second-team All-Pro in 2003.
Upon retiring from playing football, Nguyen served as an assistant coach with the Cowboys and then served on the Texas A&M coaching staff in 2010 and 2011.
During his days in Aggieland, Nguyen was also active in the community speaking to various schools and groups about the importance of education and doing your best in all walks of life. As part of Aggie Athletes Involved, Nguyen befriended a Vietnamese student having a hard time transitioning and remained a mentor to the young man until he graduated from Bryan High School. As a member of the Dallas Cowboys, Nguyen volunteered and served as a role model for the Asian community and the overall Metroplex. He currently serves on several boards around the San Antonio area and works with the Hill Country Daily Bread organization which provides physical, emotional and spiritual support to the impoverished.
The NFF & College Hall of Fame Class of 2017 will be inducted at the 60th NFF Annual Awards Dinner on Dec. 5 in New York City and will be immortalized at the Hall of Fame in Atlanta.
2017 COLLEGE FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME CLASS
Bob Crable—LB, Notre Dame (1978-81)
Marshall Faulk—RB, San Diego State (1991-93)
Kirk Gibson—WR, Michigan State (1975-78)
Matt Leinart—QB, USC (2003-05)
Peyton Manning—QB, Tennessee (1994-97)
Bob McKay—OT, Texas (1968-69)
Dat Nguyen—LB, Texas A&M (1995-98)
Adrian Peterson—RB, Georgia Southern University (1998-2001)
Mike Ruth—NG, Boston College (1982-85)
Brian Urlacher—DB, New Mexico (1996-99)
Danny Ford—122-59-5 (66.9%); Clemson (1978-89), Arkansas (1993-97)
Larry Kehres—332-24-3 (92.9%); Mount Union (Ohio) (1986-2012)
Steve Spurrier—228-89-2 (71.8%); Duke (1987-89), Florida (1990-2011), South Carolina (2005-15)
AGGIES IN THE NFF & COLLEGE FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME:
Inducted Name (Years)
1954 John Kimbrough (1939-40)
1962 Joe Routt (1935-37)
1967 Joel Hunt (1925-27)
1974 Joe Utay (1905-07)
1976 John David Crow (1955-57)
1983 Charlie Krueger (1955-57)
1986 Jack Pardee (1954-56)
1996 Dave Elmendorf (1968-70)
2010 Ray Childress (1981-84)
2017 Dat Nguyen (1995-98)
1951 Dana X. Bible (1917; 1919-28)
1955 Madison Bell (1929-33)
1971 Homer Norton (1934-46)
1986 Paul “Bear” Bryant (1954-57)
2010 Gene Stallings (1965-71)
2012 R.C. Slocum (1989-2002)