On Wednesday, The National Football Foundation announced the names on the 2017 College Football Hall of Fame ballot. Fighting Illini greats Simeon Rice, Dana Howard, and Moe Gardner are three of the 75 players that have been included. Fifteen members of the Fighting Illini have been inducted into the Hall of Fame, with the last being David Williams in 2005.
You can view the entire list of nominees -- which includes Marshall Faulk, Tony Gonzalez, and Peyton Manning -- right here.
Rice is Illinois' all-time leader in sacks (44.5) and tackles for loss (69) and holds the program's single-season records for sacks (16) and tackles for loss (23). The Mount Carmel High School product was two-time First Team All-American and was the third-overall pick in the 1996 NFL Draft; he played 13 seasons in the NFL with the Arizona Cardinals, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Denver Broncos, and Indianapolis Colts.
Howard is the program's all-time leading tackler (595). He led the team in tackles all four seasons and was twice named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year; he was also the first player in program history to win the Butkus Award in 1994. Howard played for the St. Louis Rams and Chicago Bears during a three-year NFL career.
Gardner ranks second behind Rice in program history in all-time tackles for loss with 57. He ranks in the top 10 in career sacks, single-season sacks and single-season tackles for loss. The 1990 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and a two-time First Team All-American played six seasons for the Atlanta Falcons in the NFL.