KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Olathe native and former Kansas State star Darren Sproles, former Missouri coach Gary Pinkel and Chiefs legend Tony Gonzalez are among 177 players and 40 coaches from all levels of football nominated for the 2021 induction class to the College Football Hall of Fame.
The National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame made the announcement Tuesday and the list includes 14 players and coaches with local ties on the ballot.
Sproles, a former Simone Award winner from Olathe North, was a first-team All-American for the Wildcats in 2003 and went on to become one of the best all-purpose players in NFL history.
He graduated from K-State with 28 program records, including records for career rushing (4,979) and all-purpose yards (6,812), and ranks fifth in NFL history with 19,696 all-purpose yards. Only Jerry Rice, Brian Mitchell, Walter Payton and Emmitt Smith have more career all-purpose yards.
Pinkel is the winningest coach at both MU, where he finished 118 and 73 in 15 seasons with 10 bowl appearances, and Toledo. He led Mizzou to a No. 1 national ranking in 2007, two top-five finishes in the final Associated Press poll (2007, 2013) and four top-20 finishes.
Gonzalez, a former All-American at California-Berkeley, is the Chiefs’ all-time leader in receptions (916), receiving yards (10,940) and receiving touchdowns (76), ranking second behind only Priest Holmes for the most total touchdowns in franchise history.
The list also includes Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, who starred at Colorado as a running back, and former Kansas State quarterback Michael Bishop — a Heisman Trophy runner-up, Davey O’Brien Award winner and All-American for the Wildcats in 1998.
Former Chiefs general manager John Dorsey, kicker Morten Andersen and running back C.J. Spiller also are on the ballot.
Former Mizzou offensive coordinator Josh Heupel, who is now the Central Florida head coach and was a star quarterback at Oklahoma, also made the ballot along with former Truman State quarterback Chris Hegg, who was the 1985 NCAA Division II Player of the Year, and former Northwest Missouri State All-American receiver Tony Miles.
Finally, former Bethel College wide receiver Ed Smith and former Lincoln University coach Dwight Reed also are included on the ballot.
Overall, the National Football Foundation announced the 78 players and seven coaches from major college football who are up for selection to the Atlanta-based Hall of Fame.
There also are 99 players and 33 coaches from smaller levels of college football eligible for induction — including former Chiefs linebacker Boomer Grigsby, an Illinois State graduate.
The College Hall of Fame’s class of 2021 will be announced early next year.
Correction: An earlier version of the story included former Chiefs assistant Al Harris among the players on the ballot, but it is a different Al Harris who has been nominated.