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Pro Football Hall of Fame: How finalists fared as college players

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The 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees will be announced Saturday, and a quick look at the player candidates reveals a bunch of guys who generally were much better in the NFL than they were in college.


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Yes, former Heisman winner Tim Brown is a candidate for induction. But also up for induction are five guys who started for one season or less as collegians.

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Five of the nominees were first-round picks, including one who was the overall No. 1 selection. But two of the nominees went undrafted out of college, and four others were chosen in the fourth round or later.

Here's a look at the player candidates and a quick synopsis of their college careers.

PK Morten Andersen

NFL teams: New Orleans Saints, Atlanta Falcons, New York Giants, Kansas City Chiefs, Minnesota Vikings (1982-2004)
College/draft status: Michigan State/4th round by New Orleans Saints in 1982
The particulars: Andersen played one season of high school football in Indianapolis as an exchange student from Denmark and was good enough to earn a scholarship from Michigan State. He was the Spartans' kicker for all four seasons on campus and was a consensus All-American as a senior in 1981. He had a strong leg, making a 63-yarder in 1981 in a loss to Ohio State, but also hit just 62.5 percent of his career field-goal attempts.

RB Jerome Bettis

NFL teams: Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams, Pittsburgh Steelers (1993-2005)
College/draft status: Notre Dame/1st round by Los Angeles Rams in 1993
The particulars: He received scant playing time as a freshman in 1990, then started the next two seasons at fullback for the Irish before bypassing his senior season. He rushed for 1,912 yards and 27 TDs and also had 10 receiving touchdowns. Bettis led the Irish in rushing in '91 with 972 yards, but TB Reggie Brooks was the leading rusher in '92.


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WR Tim Brown

NFL teams: Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1988-2003)
College/draft status: Notre Dame/1st round by Los Angeles Raiders in 1988
The particulars: Brown was the Irish's go-to receiver for his final three seasons and also set a then-freshman record with 28 receptions in 1984. He also was one of the nation's most electrifying return men in his final three seasons and had six TDs on returns in his career. Brown won the Heisman as a senior in '87, when he accounted for 990 yards and four TDs from scrimmage and another 857 yards and three TDs on returns. He finished his career with 137 receptions for 2,493 yards, a school-record 5,024 all-purpose yards and 22 touchdowns. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2010.

RB Terrell Davis

NFL team: Denver Broncos (1995-2001)
College/draft status: Georgia/6th round by Denver Broncos in 1995
The particulars: You want to see a longtime Georgia fan get mad? Mention Herschel Walker leaving a year early for the USFL or mention how Davis was misused by then-coach Ray Goff -- and expect to hear Goff referred to as "Ray Goof" during your conversation. Davis transferred to Georgia after one season at Long Beach State when the 49ers dropped football. In three seasons with the Bulldogs, Davis had 317 carries and 1,657 yards; he backed up Garrison Hearst in 1992 and shared carries in his final two seasons (though he was the starter) in an offense built around QB Eric Zeier.

DE Kevin Greene

NFL teams: Los Angeles Rams, Pittsburgh Steelers, Carolina Panthers, San Francisco 49ers (1985-1999)
College/draft status: Auburn/5th round by Los Angeles Rams in 1985
The particulars: Greene played high school football in Granite City, Ill., and decided he wanted to walk on at Auburn as a freshman in 1980 -- as a running back. He eventually left that fall, then returned in 1983, where he worked his way into a backup role at linebacker. He became a starter midway through the '84 season and led the SEC with 10.5 sacks.

DE Charles Haley

NFL teams: San Francisco 49ers, Dallas Cowboys (1986-1996)
College/draft status: James Madison/4th round by San Francisco in 1986
The particulars: Haley was a four-year starter at linebacker (both inside and outside) for the Dukes, who are a FCS program, and graduated with a school-record 506 tackles. Haley made at least 130 tackles in three of his four seasons and twice had at least 140. He was a first-team Division I-AA (the old designation for FCS) All-American as a senior in 1985.

WR Marvin Harrison

NFL team: Indianapolis Colts (1996-2008)
College/draft status: Syracuse/1st round by Indianapolis in 1996
The particulars: Harrison was a three-year starter at Syracuse and finished his career with 135 receptions for 2,178 yards (20.1 yards per catch) and 20 TDs. The yardage total was a school record, while the touchdown total was the second-most in school history. Interestingly, he had more catches in 2002 with the Colts (143) than he had in his entire college career.

S John Lynch

NFL teams: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Denver Broncos (1993-2007)
College/draft status: Stanford/3rd round by Tampa Bay in 1993
The particulars: Lynch played high school ball in San Diego and signed with Stanford as a quarterback. He moved to safety as a junior in 1991 and started three games. He blossomed as a senior, being named a second-team All-American for then-coach Bill Walsh, who took over after the 1991 season and convinced Lynch to stick with football instead of embarking on a pro baseball career. Lynch also was a top-flight baseball player and was a second-round pick of the Florida Marlins as a pitcher.


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OT Orlando Pace

NFL teams: St. Louis Rams, Chicago Bears (1997-2009)
College/draft status: Ohio State/1st round (1st overall) by St. Louis Rams in 1997
The particulars: He started at left tackle from the moment he stepped on campus for the Buckeyes. He was a two-time consensus first-team All-American, as a junior and senior. He won the Lombardi Award, given to the nation's top lineman or linebacker, in 1995 and '96 and won the Outland Trophy, given to the nation's top lineman, in '96. In addition, he finished fourth in the voting for the Heisman in '96. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2013.

LB Junior Seau

NFL teams: San Diego Chargers, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots (1990-2009)
College/draft status: USC/1st round by San Diego in 1990
The particulars: He sat out his freshman season at USC as an academic non-qualifier, then was a key reserve for the Trojans as a sophomore, finishing with 35 tackles and four sacks. He then had a monster junior season in 1989: He was a consensus All-American and had 19 sacks and 27 tackles for loss. Five of those tackles for loss came in a win over Arizona, and then-Wildcats coach Dick Tomey called Seau "the best player I've ever been on the field against as a coach." Seau bypassed his senior season to go to the NFL.

G Will Shields

NFL team: Kansas City Chiefs (1993-2006)
College/draft status: Nebraska/3rd round by Kansas City in 1993.
The particulars: Shields was a reserve for the Huskers as a true freshman in 1989, then was a three-year starter. He was a three-time first-team All-Big Eight selection and was the Outland Trophy winner and a consensus All-American as a senior in 1992. How dominant was he as a senior in the Huskers' option offense? He received votes as the Big Eight's offensive player of the year. Shields is one of 16 Nebraska players to have his jersey retired by the school. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2011. Shields is from Lawton, Okla., and was the first Oklahoman to earn a football scholarship at Nebraska.

C Mick Tingelhoff

NFL team: Minnesota Vikings (1962-1978)
College/draft status: Nebraska/undrafted free agent signed by Minnesota in 1962.
The particulars: Tingelhoff was a backup center for Nebraska in 1959 and '60, then started at center for the Huskers as a senior in 1961. The Huskers were just 3-6-1 that season -- their last losing record until 2004. Interestingly, Nebraska's right tackle that season was Bob "Boomer" Brown, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2004.

QB Kurt Warner

NFL teams: St. Louis Rams, New York Giants, Arizona Cardinals (1998-2009)
College/draft status: Northern Iowa/undrafted free agent signed by Green Bay (and soon thereafter cut) in 1994.
The particulars: Everyone knows about his startling rise from grocery-store bag boy to Arena League quarterback to NFL star. Not so many know that he barely saw the field until he was a senior in 1993 at Northern Iowa, a FCS school; that senior season was productive, though, as he threw for 2,747 yards and 17 TDs, and was named the now-defunct Gateway Conference offensive player of the year. In his four years at UNI, Warner completed 201 passes, for 2,980 yards and 19 TDs.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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