All-time coaching greats, hall of famer players, college national champions and Super Bowl winners highlight the 2018 Atlantic Coast Conference Football Legends class announced on Thursday.
The 14-member group of honorees includes Boston College’s Mathias Kiwanuka, Clemson’s Brian Dawkins, Duke’s Steve Spurrier, Florida State’s Bobby Bowden, Georgia Tech’s Joshua Nesbitt, Louisville’s Roman Oben, Miami’s Ed Reed, North Carolina’s Ron Rusnak, NC State’s Mario Williams, Pitt’s Mark May, Syracuse’s Don McPherson, Virginia’s Herman Moore, Virginia Tech’s Eddie Royal and Wake Forest’s Steve Justice.
This year’s class will be honored during the ACC Night of Legends presented by the Charlotte Sports Foundation at the Charlotte Convention Center, on Friday, Nov. 30, and during the on-field pregame festivities at the 14th annual Dr Pepper ACC Football Championship Game, set for the evening of Saturday, Dec. 1, at Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium.
Tickets to the 2018 Dr Pepper ACC Football Championship Game go on sale Tuesday, Oct. 2.
Each of the ACC’s 14 football schools selected its 2018 Legend. Below is a further glance at each member of this year’s ACC Football Legends Class.
Mathias Kiwanuka, DE, Boston College (2002-05)
First-team All-America selection in 2005 • All-ACC first-team selection and recipient of the William J. Flynn Award, given to the team’s most valuable player as voted by his teammates • Finished his college football career with 245 career tackles (157 solos), a school-record 37.5 quarterback sacks, 65.5 tackles for loss, 13 pass breakups, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and three interceptions in 49 games over four seasons • Drafted with the 32nd overall pick of the 2006 NFL Draft by the New York Giants • Earned two Super Bowl rings while playing nine seasons with the Giants • Appeared in 120 NFL regular-season games while making 82 starts • Recorded 38.5 quarterback sacks with three interceptions and three fumble recoveries as a pro.
Brian Dawkins, FS, Clemson (1992-95)
Named a second-team All-American by the Associated Press and The Sporting News after his senior year • Second-team All-ACC defensive back in 1993 and 1994 and a first-team selection as a senior in 1995 • Tied a Clemson record with three interceptions against Duke in 1995 • All three picks came in one quarter, and he remains the only Clemson player ever to have three interceptions in a single quarter • Finished his career with 15 takeaways – 11 interceptions and four fumble recoveries • Finished with 251 total tackles in 46 games • Entered the Pro Football Hall of Fame this past August after a 16-year NFL career with Philadelphia and Denver • Nine-time Pro Bowler had 1,131 tackles 37 interceptions, 26 sacks, 120 pass deflections, 36 forced fumbles and 19 fumble recoveries in 224 career NFL games (221 starts).
Steve Spurrier, Head Coach, Duke (1987-89)
Two-time ACC Coach of the Year selection in 1988 and 1989 • Guided Duke to the 1989 ACC co-championship and All-American Bowl appearance • The 1989 ACC championship was Duke’s first since 1962, and the bowl game was the program’s first since 1960 • Early coaching career also included three seasons as Duke offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach (1980-82) • Former Heisman Trophy winner went on to have successful collegiate head coaching stints at Florida (1990-2001) and South Carolina (2005-15) • Finished with a college coaching record of 228-89-2 with one national title (Florida, 1996) • Nine-time conference coach of the year • Enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame as both a player and a coach.
Bobby Bowden, Head Coach, Florida State (1976-2009)
Second-winningest NCAA Division I coach of all time with 377 career victories, 304 of which came in his 34 seasons with the Seminoles • Led Florida State to an Associated Press and Coaches Poll national title in 1993 and a BCS National Championship in 1999, as well as 12 ACC championships after FSU joined the conference in 1992 • Posted a 21-9-1 record as a head coach in bowl games and led the Seminoles to 28 consecutive bowl appearances • Florida State finished ranked in the nation’s top five for 14 consecutive seasons under his watch (1987-2000) • Voted ACC Coach of the Year in 1993 and 1997 • FSU playing field named “Bobby Bowden Field at Doak Campbell Stadium” in 2004 • Inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2006.
Joshua Nesbitt, QB, Georgia Tech (2007-10)
Three-year starter who flourished in head coach Paul Johnson’s option attack offense • Rushed for 1,037 yards and 18 touchdowns as a junior in 2009 while passing for 1,701 yards and 10 more TDs • Voted first-team All-ACC quarterback at the end of that season (2009) • Georgia Tech went a combined 20-7 during Nesbitt’s sophomore and junior seasons • Despite having his senior year cut short by an injury, he finished with 2,806 career rushing yards • His career rushing total was a record for an ACC quarterback that stood until it was broken in 2017 by Louisville’s Lamar Jackson • At the time of his graduation, Nesbitt had rushed for 1,000 yards more than any quarterback in Georgia Tech history • His 35 career rushing touchdowns also set what were then ACC and school records for his position.
Roman Oben, OT, Louisville (1992-95)
A powerful offensive lineman for the Cardinals for four years • Earned first-team All-America honors in 1994, when he didn’t allow a sack the entire season • Third-round pick by the New York Giants in the 1996 NFL Draft and went on to play 12 seasons in the NFL for the Giants (1996-99), Cleveland Browns (2000-01), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2002-03) and San Diego Chargers (2004-07) • Started 130 of 143 games during his pro career • Starting left tackle on Tampa Bay’s 2002 Super Bowl Championship team • Served as an NFL Players Association team representative for seven years • Established the Roman Oben Foundation in 1993, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life and promoting the positive development of youth through football, literacy and other community outreach projects • Since 2015, he has served as the NFL’s Director of Youth and High School Football.
Ed Reed, S, Miami, (1998-2001)
Holds Miami records for career interceptions (21), career interceptions returned for touchdowns (four), career interception return yards (389) and single-season interception return yards (206 in 2001) • Led Miami with nine tackles (six solo) in Miami’s 37-14 victory over Nebraska to claim the Rose Bowl and the Hurricanes’ fifth national championship • Consensus All-American in both 2000 and 2001 • Named 2001 National Defensive Player of the Year by the Football News • 2001 Jim Thorpe finalist and Bronko Nagurski semi-finalist • Inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2018 • Went on to star in the NFL for 12 seasons, including 11 with the Baltimore Ravens • Nine-time NFL Pro Bowl selection and 2004 NFL Defensive Player of the Year • Earned a Super Bowl ring with Baltimore in 2013 and led the NFL in interceptions on three occasions.
Ron Rusnak, OG, North Carolina (1970-72)
Received the 1972 Jacobs Blocking Trophy as the top blocker in the ACC following his senior year • Consistently excelled despite being smaller in stature than many of his fellow offensive linemen at 6-2, 220 pounds • Played on three bowl teams from 1970 through 1972 • Earned unanimous All-America honors after helping North Carolina to an 11-1 record and a Sun Bowl title as a senior • Two-time first-team All-ACC selection for 1971 and 1972 UNC teams that were a combined 20-4 • Tar Heels averaged nearly 265 yards rushing per game during Rusnak’s three seasons • One of 27 former UNC football players whose jersey is honored at Kenan Stadium.
Mario Williams, DE, NC State (2003-05)
The first and one of only two ACC players to be selected as the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft • Taken No. 1 by the Houston Texans in 2006 • Named a first-team All-American by Sports Illustrated in 2005 and a second-team choice by Walter Camp after setting what were then NC State single-season records for tackles for loss (27.5) and quarterback sacks (14.5) • Two-time All-ACC performer • Among a select group of players whose jersey is honored and on display at Carter-Finley Stadium • A four-time NFL Pro Bowl selection • Williams’ pro career included 97.5 quarterback sacks, 16 forced fumbles and 20 pass deflections in 11 seasons with the Texans, Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins.
Mark May, OG, Pitt (1977-80)
Before he became a familiar face to fans as a television football analyst, May proved himself in the trenches as an elite offensive linemen • Pitt’s first recipient of the prestigious Outland Trophy • On Sept. 27, 2001, May became the eighth player to have his jersey retired by the school • May’s Pitt teams were a combined 39-8-1 during his four seasons, including 11-1 marks in both his junior and senior years • Did not allow a sack his final two collegiate seasons • Consensus All-America selection as a senior and selected in the first round of the 1981 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins • Helped the Redskins to three Super Bowls (1982, 1983 and 1987), including championships in ’82 and ’87 • Played 10 of his 13 NFL seasons with the Redskins before finishing his pro career with the Chargers and Cardinals.
Don McPherson, QB, Syracuse (1983-87)
Unanimous All-America quarterback at Syracuse and a veteran of the NFL and Canadian Football League • As captain of the undefeated 1987 Orange football team, McPherson set 22 school records • Led the nation in passing and won 18 national individual awards his senior year • List of honors includes the Maxwell Award as the nation’s best player, the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award and the inaugural Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award • Placed second in the 1987 Heisman Trophy voting • Elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2008 • Syracuse retired his No. 9 jersey in 2013 • Has spent more than three decades delivering school and community based programs that address issues such as drunk driving, alcohol and substance abuse, bullying, youth leadership and mentoring.
Herman Moore, WR, Virginia (1987-90)
Two-time All-American under head coach George Welsh, including first-team honors as a senior in 1990 • His 1,190 receiving yards as a senior established a then-ACC record for a single season and remains a UVA school record • His 13 touchdown catches in 1990 also remain a school record • Ranks second all-time at UVA in career touchdown receptions (27) and receiving yards (2,504) • First-round selection by the Detroit Lions in the 1991 NFL Draft • Played 12 professional seasons with 9,174 yards and 62 touchdowns on 670 receptions • His 123 receptions in 1995 set a then-NFL single-season record • Four-time Pro Bowl selection • Helped the Lions to six playoff appearances.
Eddie Royal, WR, Virginia Tech (2004-07)
Ranks ninth on Virginia Tech’s all-time list with 119 career receptions • Finished his collegiate career with 1,778 receiving yards and 12 touchdown catches • Led the Hokies as a freshman in 2004 with 28 receptions for 470 yards • Named a freshman All-American in 2004 • Led Hokies in punt returns all four of his seasons in Blacksburg and finished as the school’s all-time leader in return yardage with 1,296 • Averaged 11.7 yards on 111 career punt returns and returned three for touchdowns • First-team All-ACC in 2007, second-team honors in 2006 • Taken in the second round of the 2008 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos • Played nine professional seasons for the Broncos, Chargers and Bears • Made 408 catches for 4,357 yards and 28 touchdowns in the NFL • Also had four kick returns for touchdowns as a pro.
Steve Justice, C, Wake Forest (2004-07)
The 2007 ACC Jacobs Blocking Trophy recipient and national runner-up for the Rimington Trophy • Most decorated center in Wake Forest football history • Named first-team All-American by the Associated Press, CBS Sports, ESPN.com and the AFCA as a senior • Earned second-team honors from the Walter Camp Foundation, Sports Illustrated and the Sporting News • Three-year starter that helped pave the way for the Demon Deacons to capture the 2006 ACC Championship and the 2007 Meineke Car Care Bowl • First-team All-ACC selection as a senior and a sixth-round draft pick by the Indianapolis Colts • Following NFL stints with the Colts and Panthers, he established his own business as a personal trainer.