Bluffton’s Steve Fuller, who helped steer Clemson’s football resurgence in the 1970s, and former USC coach Steve Spurrier are among 15 finalists for the newest enshrinement class of the South Carolina Football Hall of Fame.
The list also includes 1945 Heisman Trophy winner Felix “Doc” Blanchard, longtime Furman coaches Dick Sheridan and Bobby Johnson and six former NFL All-Pros, including former 49ers receiver Dwight Clark who went into NFL lore as recipient of “The Catch.”
Hall of Fame voters will select four names to make up its enshrinement Class of 2017, joining 20 previous electees in the shrine that launched four years ago. An induction celebration is scheduled for April 20.
Fuller, raised in Spartanburg, was the quarterback for a Clemson revival that in 1977 led to the program’s first bowl games and top-20 rankings in nearly 20 years. He was the ACC’s Most Valuable Player in 1977 and ’78, leading the Tigers to a 19-4-1 record during that period.
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The 1978 Tigers went 11-1 and finished sixth in the final polls, following a Gator Bowl victory over Ohio State. Fuller finished sixth in the Heisman Trophy voting that year, bettered only by Watson’s runner-up finishes.
Clemson retired Fuller’s No.4 in 1979, though it came out of retirement for Deshaun Watson, and he was one of the first three Tigers to go into Clemson’s Ring of Honor. Fuller also spent eight seasons in the NFL and was part of the Chicago Bears’ 1986 Super Bowl champions.
Spurrier is the winningest coach in USC history, compiling an 86-49 record in 10 1/2 seasons leading the Gamecocks. He guided the program to an SEC East crown in 2010, followed by three straight 11-win seasons. He won 228 games in all as a college head coach, including the 1996 national title at Florida.
Blanchard is South Carolina’s only Heisman winner, taking home the award in 1945 while helping Army to three straight national titles. The McColl native was the “inside” half of the Cadets’ famed “Mr. Inside/Mr. Outside” duo with Glenn Davis, who won the 1946 Heisman.
Eligible candidates for the shrine must have grown up in South Carolina, or played or coached at one of the state’s 14 college football programs.
S.C. Football Hall of Fame finalists
John Abraham (Timmonsville/USC): Twice an All-Pro linebacker in 15 NFL seasons with the Jets, Falcons and Cardinals.
Felix “Doc” Blanchard (McColl/Army): South Carolina’s only Heisman Trophy winner, part of three national champion Army teams.
Jeff Bostic (Clemson): A three-time Super Bowl champion with the Redskins’ “Hogs” offensive line, All-Pro honors in 1983.
Robert Brooks (Greenwood/USC): A Super Bowl winner in 1997 with the Packers, part of an eight-year NFL receiving career.
Charlie Brown (Charleston/S.C. State): A Super Bowl winner with the Redskins in 1983, twice named a Pro Bowl receiver.
Dwight Clark (Clemson): Twice a Super Bowl winners with the 49ers; recipient of “The Catch” vs. Dallas that earned their first Super Bowl trip.
Stephen Davis (Spartanburg): A two-time NFC rushing leader with the Redskins, part of an 11-year NFL career after starring at Auburn.
Fisher DeBerry (Cheraw/Air Force): Took the Falcons to 12 bowl games in 23 years as their head coach.
Steve Fuller (Spartanburg/Clemson): The ACC’s Most Valuable Player in 1977 and ’78, sixth in Heisman voting as a senior.
Bobby Johnson (Columbia/Clemson/Furman): Won two Southern Conference titles as Furman’s coach; led Vanderbilt to its first bowl win in 53 years.
Levon Kirkland (Lamar/Clemson): Part of the NFL’s all-decade team in the 1990s, mostly as a Steelers linebacker.
Stump Mitchell (The Citadel): Still holds the Bulldogs’ records for single-season and career rushing yards; played 10 NFL seasons.
Robert Porcher (Wando/S.C. State): Twice an All-Pro defensive end during 13 NFL seasons, all with the Lions.
Dick Sheridan (USC/Furman): Guided Furman to six Southern Conference titles before taking N.C. State job; national Coach of the Year in 1986.
Steve Spurrier (USC): Winningest coach in Gamecocks history, leading program to three of its only four 10-win seasons.