Brooks starred at Florida State before becoming one of the best linebackers in NFL history with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Dickerson was a standout at SMU before moving on to NFL glory. Cousineau was an Ohio State linebacker who was the first overall pick in 1979, by the Buffalo Bills. Couch, who played quarterback at Kentucky, was the top pick in 1999, by the Cleveland Browns.
Three Heisman winners also are on the list: former Nebraska quarterback Eric Crouch, former USC quarterback Matt Leinart and former Colorado running back Rashaan Salaam.
That group is joined on the ballot by, among others, former Miami linebacker Ray Lewis, former UNLV quarterback Randall Cunningham (he's listed as a punter on the ballot and was a two-time All-America selection at the position), former Michigan State wide receiver Kirk Gibson (a former Major League Baseball star and manager), former Illinois linebacker Simeon Rice, former New Mexico linebacker Brian Urlacher and former Purdue defensive back Rod Woodson.
There are 76 players and five coaches from the FBS ranks and 92 players and 27 coaches from the small-school ranks on the ballot. The entire list of candidates is here.
The announcement of the 2016 class will be made Jan. 8, 2016.
From the National Football Foundation website: "To be eligible for the ballot, players must have been named a first-team All-American by a major/national selector as recognized and utilized by the NCAA for their consensus All-America teams; played their last year of intercollegiate football at least 10 years prior; played within the last 50 years and cannot be currently playing professional football. Coaches must have coached a minimum of 10 years and 100 games as a head coach; won at least 60 percent of their games; and be retired from coaching for at least three years. If a coach is retired and over the age of 70, there is no waiting period. If he is over the age of 75, he is eligible as an active coach. In both cases, the candidate's post-football record as a citizen may also be weighed."
Here are our top five candidates:
LB Derrick Brooks, Florida State
Reasoning: Before he showed off his speed and high football IQ in the NFL, he did the same thing at FSU. Brooks was a two-time first-team All-America selection and a three-time All-ACC pick. He also was the 1994 ACC player of the year and helped FSU win the '93 national title. Brooks was a first-round pick in the 1995 draft.
LB Tom Cousineau, Ohio State
Reasoning: He was a three-time All-Big Ten selection and a two-time consensus All-American. Cousineau still holds six school records and his 572 career tackles rank second on the Buckeyes' career list.
RB Troy Davis, Iowa State
Why him: He is the only two-time 2,000-yard rusher in NCAA history (2,010 yards in 1995 and 2,185 in '96), so why isn't this guy already in the Hall? His production was incredible on teams with zero complementary talent. He was the 1996 Big 12 player of the year and a two-time All-American and Heisman finalist.
RB Eric Dickerson, SMU
Reasoning: He starred at SMU during perhaps the best era of Mustangs football. But the program also was setting records for NCAA rules-breaking, and that presumably is the reason he isn't in the Hall. His production certainly warrants it. Dickerson was a two-time first-team All-American who was part of the "Pony Express" backfield at SMU with Craig James. He was third in the Heisman balloting in 1982 -- when he ran for 1,617 yards and 17 TDs -- and twice was named Southwest Conference player of the year. He was a first-round pick in the 1983 draft.
LB Simeon Rice, Illinois
Reasoning: He was a two-time All-American and a three-time first-team All-Big Ten selection. Rice holds the Big Ten record for career sacks (44.5), including 16 as a junior in 1994. Rice was a first-round pick in the 1996 draft.
Mike Huguenin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.