NFL: Which College Has Produced the Most Pro Football Hall of Famers?

Jason Miller/Getty Images

The Pro Football Hall of Fame is a special place | Jason Miller/Getty Images

The only surefire way to achieve professional immortality in the NFL is to be elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. It is hands down the highest individual honor that can be bestowed upon a professional football player, coach, or owner. Winning MVP or Player of the Year awards can help players land massive contracts; leading an already built team to a Super Bowl title (Barry Switzer) looks great on a resume. But at the end of the day,  those honors only reflect a one-year window of excellence.

The Hall of Fame is all about recognizing careers more so than dominant individual seasons. That’s why several players who have won NFL MVP awards guys like former Denver Broncos running back Terrell Davis do not currently have a bronze bust on display in Canton. Who does? You may be somewhat surprised by our findings. With that being said, here is a look at the 10 college football programs that have produced the most Pro Football Hall of Famers.

10. (tie) Miami (FL) – six

Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Michael Irvin didn’t have to wait long for his gold jacket | Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Hall of Fame inductees:

  • Michael Irvin (pictured above)
  • Warren Sapp
  • Jim Kelly
  • Cortez Kennedy
  • Jim Otto
  • Ted Hendricks

The Hurricanes could easily jump to No. 1 on this list in the near future. They have several former players wide receivers Andre Johnson and Reggie Wayne, linebacker Ray Lewis, safety Ed Reed, running back Frank Gore, punt and kick returner Devin Hester, and defensive tackle Vince Wilfork who are all considered virtual locks to be elected within the next 1015 years.

A couple of other former Canes, such as tight end Jimmy Graham and defensive end Calais Campbell, both have legitimate chances to play themselves into the discussion, as well. This number will likely continue to grow, as Miami continues to develop top-notch NFL talent despite their lack of on-field success in recent years.

10. (tie) Illinois – six

Dick Butkus was the model middle linebacker | Skip Bolen/Getty Images

Dick Butkus was the model middle linebacker | Skip Bolen/Getty Images

Hall of Fame inductees:

  • Dick Butkus (pictured above)
  • Harold Grange
  • George Halas
  • Bobby Mitchell
  • Ray Nitschke
  • Hugh Ray

Illinois won’t add to their list of alumni in the Pro Football Hall of Fame anytime soon, but you can’t help but admire the list of former Illini players who were already inducted. For example, George Halas helped found the league, and Dick Butkus, who happens to be the perfect embodiment of what an inside linebacker should be, is arguably the best middle linebacker to ever play the game.

8. Minnesota – seven

Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Tony Dungy got his gold jacket in 2016 | Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Hall of Fame inductees:

  • Bronko Nagurski
  • Bobby Bell
  • Carl Eller
  • Bud Grant
  • Charlie Sanders
  • Leo Nomellini
  • Tony Dungy (pictured above)

You may be mildly surprised to see the Golden Gophers on this list given their lack of success in recent years. However, prior to ’70s, the University of Minnesota had one of the strongest football programs in the country. They added Tony Dungy to their list of Hall of Famers the former player and highly successful NFL coach was enshrined as a member of the Class of 2016. After Dungy though, we will likely not see another former Golden Gopher elected into the Hall of Fame for a long time.

4.  (tie) Alabama – eight


Ozzie Newsome was a Hall of Fame player and has become a Hall of Fame caliber GM | David Maxwell/Getty Images

Hall of Fame inductees:

  • Joe Namath
  • Ozzie Newsome (pictured above)
  • Derrick Thomas
  • Bart Starr
  • Dwight Stephenson
  • John Hannah
  • Don Hutson
  • Ken Stabler

Alabama already boasts an impressive list of former players who earned a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Judging by their recent run of success on the field and the fact that they’ve emerged as a factory for elite NFL prospects, it’s only a matter of time before their list of Hall of Famers starts growing.

As it currently stands, it will likely be several years before the Crimson Tide add to their Pro Football Hall of Fame total, as the late Ken Stabler, who quarterbacked the Oakland Raiders to a win in Super Bowl XI, earned induction in 2016.

4. (tie) Syracuse – eight

Jim Brown is an absolute legend | Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Jim Brown is an absolute legend | Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Hall of Fame inductees:

  • Jim Brown (pictured above)
  • Al Davis
  • Art Monk
  • Jim Ringo
  • John Mackey
  • Floyd Little
  • Larry Csonka
  • Marvin Harrison

Most millennial sports fans view Syracuse as a basketball school with a football problem. Baby Boomers are another story. They are fully aware that guys like Jim Brown, Larry Csonka, Floyd Little, Art Monk, and John Mackey all once donned a Syracuse Orange jersey.

Syracuse added to their Hall of Fame total in 2016 when longtime Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Marvin Harrison was inducted. Looking forward, the Orange will likely add yet another player to their list when defensive end Dwight Freeney retires and eventually gets his gold jacket.

4.  (tie) Pittsburgh – eight

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Dan Marino was one of the best pure passers in NFL history | Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Hall of Fame inductees:

  • Dan Marino (pictured above)
  • Tony Dorsett
  • Mike Ditka
  • Chris Doleman
  • Curtis Martin
  • Joe Schmidt
  • Rickey Jackson
  • Russ Grimm

Pitt currently has eight former players in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and it will likely add two more players to their list within the next 1015 years in cornerback Darrelle Revis and Larry Fitzgerald. Their headlining Hall of Fame alumni players are some of the best to ever play at their positions in league history. This includes Dan Marino, who retired with the career records for nearly every major passing statistic in league history.

4.  (tie) Michigan – eight

Dan Dierdorf | Mary Schwalm/Getty Images

Dan Dierdorf was a member of the Hall of Fame Class of 1996 | Mary Schwalm/Getty Images

Hall of Fame inductees:

  • Ralph Wilson Jr.
  • Dan Dierdorf
  • George Allen
  • Benny Friedman
  • Len Ford
  • Elroy Hirsch
  • Bill Hewitt
  • Tom Mack

Like Miami, Michigan will see their total number of former players in the Pro Football Hall of Fame grow substantially over the next 1520 years. In addition to the eight players the Wolverines currently have in the Hall, they will also see quarterback Tom Brady, who will be a first-ballot inductee when he is eligible; defensive back Charles Woodson, another likely first-ballot Hall of Famer; offensive lineman Steve Hutchinson; and defensive back Ty Law earn their place in Canton in the future.

3.  Ohio State – 10

Jason Miller/Getty Images

Cris Carter overcame a lot to become a Hall of Famer | Jason Miller/Getty Images

Hall of Fame inductees:

  • Lou Groza
  • Cris Carter (pictured above)
  • Dick LeBeau
  • Sid Gillman
  • Dante Lavelli
  • Ed Sabol
  • Jim Parker
  • Paul Warfield
  • Bill Willis
  • Orlando Pace

Ohio State has been a college football powerhouse for most of the last century. Former offensive tackle Orlando Pace’s induction in 2016 bumped the Buckeyes’ number of Hall of Famers up to 10, and we see New York Jets center Nick Mangold as a future Hall of Famer as well.

On top of that, with Ohio State’s current run of on-field success and the sheer number of elite NFL prospects their program currently produces (Taylor Decker, Ezekiel Elliott, Joey Bosa, etc.), we wouldn’t be at all surprised to see the Buckeyes continue to move up this list in the coming years.

2. USC – 12

Lynn Swann | Elsa/Getty Images

Lynn Swann was a superstar for the Pittsburgh Steelers | Elsa/Getty Images

Hall of Fame inductees:

  • Junior Seau
  • O.J. Simpson
  • Marcus Allen
  • Frank Gifford
  • Morris Badgro
  • Ronnie Lott
  • Bruce Matthews
  • Anthony Munoz
  • Ron Mix
  • Lynn Swann
  • Willie Wood
  • Ron Yary

Former NFL linebacker Junior Seau, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame this past weekend, was the 12th former Trojan to earn a bronze bust in Canton. The 11 players who earned the honor before him are some of the biggest names in league history, led by running backs O.J. Simpson, Marcus Allen, and Frank Gifford. This group will likely grow in the very near future, as recently retired safety Troy Polamalu should earn induction in his first year of eligibility.

1. Notre Dame – 13

Many people consider Joe Montana to be the best player in NFL history | David Maxwell/Getty Images

Many people consider Joe Montana to be the best player in NFL history | David Maxwell/Getty Images

Hall of Fame inductees:

  • Jerome Bettis (pictured above)
  • Tim Brown
  • Joe Montana
  • Paul Hornung
  • Nick Buoniconti
  • Dave Casper
  • George Connor
  • Earl Lambeau
  • John McNally
  • Wayne Miller
  • George Trafton
  • Alan Page
  • Edward DeBartolo, Jr.

Former San Francisco 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo, Jr. was a member of the HOF Class of 2016, but Notre Dame likely see another alumni player enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame for quite a while. Nonetheless, there is no denying that their current group of inductees is incredibly impressive.

Many people view Joe Montana as the best quarterback to ever play in the NFL, and Paul Hornung was one of the best all-around athletes to ever play the game. They do, however, have a crop of players currently in the NFL who all have a chance to carve out Hall of Fame-caliber careers. This includes Minnesota Vikings safety Harrison Smith, Detroit Lions wide receiver Golden Tate, and Dallas Cowboys offensive lineman Zack Martin.

Statistics courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.

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