Former Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher and running back Adrian Peterson have been selected to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
The Class of 2017 consists of 10 first-team All-America players—including Peyton Manning and Marshall Faulk—and three standout coaches, led by Steve Spurrier. The inductees were chosen from a ballot of 75 players and six coaches from the Football Bowl Subdivision and 95 players and 29 coaches from the divisional ranks.
Urlacher will become the first New Mexico player inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. He earned first-team All-America honors as a safety in 1999 and was a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, given to the top defensive back in the country.
Urlacher was named the 1999 Mountain West Conference Player of the Year after leading the league in tackles (154), forced fumbles (5) and fumble recoveries (3) as a senior. The two-time team captain and Team MVP twice led the Lobos in tackles, recording a single-season school-record 178 in 1998, which led the nation.
Showing his versatility, the 1999 New Mexico Male Athlete of the Year recorded seven touchdowns to lead the team in scoring with 42 points while also earning his second consecutive Colonel H.J. Golightly Defensive Player of the Year award from the team. His 442 career tackles rank fourth all-time in Lobo history while his 11 career forced fumbles rank second.
As a sophomore, Urlacher led New Mexico to a berth in the 1997 WAC Championship Game and a trip to the Insight.com Bowl, the Lobos’ first bowl appearance since 1961. Following his standout career, he played in the 2000 Senior Bowl where he earned Defensive MVP honors. A member of the State of New Mexico Sports Hall of Fame, Urlacher’s No. 44 jersey was retired by the Lobos in 2013.
Urlacher spent his entire 13-year NFL career with the Bears. The eight-time Pro Bowl selection and five-time All-Pro was named the 2000 AP Defensive Rookie of the Year and 2005 AP Defensive Player of the Year. A member of the NFL All-Decade Team for the 2000s, Urlacher led the Bears to four division titles and one conference championship and holds the franchise record with 1,776 career tackles. He received the Bears’ Brian Piccolo Award in 2007.
Giving back to his community off the field, Urlacher donated $500,000 to New Mexico for its indoor practice facility, and he conducted summer football camps at the university for more than a decade. He built the Brian Urlacher Training Facility for his alma mater Lovington High School and bought shoes for all of the school’s athletes for five years. During his career with the Bears, Urlacher would purchase 120 tickets to every Chicago home game and donate them to charity.
Peterson, meanwhile, remains the all-time leading rusher in Division I (FBS and FCS) history with 6,559 yards. The four-time first-team All-American is the second Georgia Southern player to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
The only sophomore to ever win the Walter Payton Award as the FCS Player of the Year, Peterson finished among the top three vote-getters for the award all four seasons of his career. The two-time Southern Conference Offensive Player of the Year led the Eagles to three national championship appearances, winning back-to-back titles in 1999 and 2000. Peterson holds virtually every rushing record in school and conference history, including career rushing yards (6,559), rush attempts (996), rushing touchdowns (84) and points (524), among many others.
The four-time first team all-conference performer led Georgia Southern to four consecutive conference championships. In 1998, Peterson set the NCAA record for most rushing yards by a freshman with 1,932, and he finished his career as Division I’s all-time leader in rushing touchdowns, a record that lasted until 2015. A 14-time conference player of the week, he rushed for 100 or more yards in 48 consecutive games. Peterson is a member of the Georgia Southern and SoCon halls of fame, and Sporting News renamed its FCS Offensive Player of the Year Award in his honor in 2014.
Selected by the Bears in the sixth round of the 2002 draft, Peterson appeared in 106 games over eight seasons from 2002-09, rushing for 1,283 yards and eight touchdowns on 311 carries. He was also a top special-teams player with the team.
Peterson is one of the founders and owners of All Pro Sports Performance in Illinois. He wrote a book entitled, “Don’t Dis My Abilities,” regarding his struggles with a speech impediment and donated a portion of the proceeds to a scholarship fund at Georgia Southern.
Honored as Georgia Southern’s “Champion of Life” at the GoDaddy Bowl in 2015, Peterson helps raise awareness for Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, a rare inoperable brainstem tumor that claimed the life of his seven-year-old son, A.J., in 2015.
Roster move: In other news Monday, the Bears waived linebacker Josh Shirley, who made his debut with the team in the season finale against the Vikings.