FCS products Owens, Walls are Hall of Fame finalists

(STATS) – FCS-level products Terrell Owens and Everson Walls hope to get a certain phone call on Saturday. Both are finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame class, which will be selected on the eve of Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis.

As collegians, Owens played wide receiver at Chattanooga and Walls was a cornerback at Grambling State.

Owens, 45, is a third-time finalist. He spent 15 sometimes controversy-filled seasons in the NFL with five organizations, starting with the San Francisco 49ers after they selected him in the third round of the 1996 draft. The big-play receiver had nine seasons of at least 1,000 receiving yards, finishing with the second-highest total all-time with 15,934 yards on 1,078 receptions. His 153 touchdown catches are the third-most in NFL history. He made six Pro Bowls and was named an All-Pro five times.

At Chattanooga, he was a prolific athlete who participated in three sports. He became a starting receiver as a sophomore and caught 115 passes for 1,748 yards and 12 touchdowns over his final three seasons, playing in the run-heavy Southern Conference. He also played for a Mocs basketball team that advanced to the NCAA tournament, and anchored the school’s 4×100 relay team at the NCAA track championships.

Walls, 58, was a four-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro during his 13-year NFL career. He is the only cornerback to lead the league in interceptions three times, beginning with the Dallas Cowboys in 1981 after he signed as an undrafted rookie free agent, and also finishing first in ’82 and ’85. He was part of the New York Giants’ 1991 Super Bowl champion team, making a key tackle on Buffalo Bills running back Thurman Thomas late in the game. He also played with the Cleveland Browns, ending his career with 57 interceptions, including 44 with the Cowboys.

He walked on to the Grambling State program after only playing as a senior in high school, but he impressed coach Eddie Robinson and wound up earning a scholarship. In 1980, he led the nation with 11 interceptions and was an Division I-AA All-American.

The other finalists named in early January were offensive tackle Tony Boselli, wide receiver Isaac Bruce, safety Brian Dawkins, offensive guard Alan Faneca, offensive guard Steve Hutchinson, offensive tackle Joe Jacoby, running back Edgerrin James, cornerback Ty Law, linebacker Ray Lewis, safety John Lynch, center Kevin Mawae, wide receiver Randy Moss and linebacker Brian Urlacher.

Two senior finalists – linebacker Robert Brazile, who played at Jackson State prior to the Division I split in 1978, and offensive guard Jerry Kramer – were named in August. General manager Bobby Beathard was announced as a contributor finalist.

To be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, a candidate must receive at least 80 percent support from the 48-person selection committee.

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