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Cornelius Bennett Enshrined into College Football Hall of Fame



SOUTH BEND, Indiana -- Cornelius Bennett, a three-time All-American linebacker at The University of Alabama (1983-86) was enshrined into the National Football Foundation's College Football Hall of Fame Saturday evening in South Bend, Ind.

He was a four-year letterman for the Crimson Tide under coach Ray Perkins.  As a freshman in 1983, he made 73 tackles, including six TFLs.  He had a career-high 102 tackles in 1984, which included four TFLs and one sack en route to All-America honors.

As a junior, Bennett recorded 51 tackles and added four TFLs and four sacks en route to his second straight All-America season.  He wrapped up his junior season by winning the 1985 Aloha Bowl Most Valuable Defensive Player award after Alabama's 24-3 win over Southern California.

In 1986, Bennett was a consensus All-America and was also the only UA player to win the coveted Lombardi Trophy.  He was also named the 1986 SEC Defensive Player of the Year and the MVP of the Sun Bowl, a 28-7 win over Washington.  He was also seventh in the Heisman Trophy race as a senior.  Bennett and current Alabama head football coach Mike Shula were elected permanent team captains. 

He was named to Alabama's Team of the Century in 1992 and was elected as Bama's Player of the Decade in the 1980s.  He is the 20th former Alabama player or coach to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

After his career at Alabama, Bennett enjoyed a stellar career in the National Football League with the Buffalo Bills and Atlanta Falcons.  He also played in four Super Bowls.

Here is a Q&A that Bennett did with this weekend from the College Football Hall of Fame Induction ceremonies in South Bend, Ind.

What does it mean to be enshrined into the College Football Hall of Fame?

"I am still trying to come to grips with it.  This is not bad for an old country boy from Birmingham, Ala.  This is a tremendous honor not only for Cornelius Bennett, but for The University of Alabama, my coaches and teammates and all the loyal Crimson Tide fans."

What does it say that you are the 20th former Alabama player to be elected into the College Football Hall of Fame?

"I think it says a lot.  The University of Alabama has turned out a lot of great football players.  It is an honor to be here with some of the greats.  This speaks volumes about the history of Alabama football.  There are many others who also should be elected to the Hall of Fame.  Derrick Thomas should get in very soon.  He had a great career at Alabama and was a tremendous player.  I also think Bobby Humphrey should be considered.  He also had a great career.  Alabama had also had a lot of good kickers that deserve to be in the Hall of Fame.  Van Tiffin and Philip Doyle come to mind.  Both of them had a memorable game-winning kick and their career numbers are worthy of induction."

What does it say about Cornelius Bennett that "the sack" (of Notre Dame's Steve Buerlien) is still remembered 20 years later?

"We have a lot of loyal and fanatical fans at The University of Alabama.  There are people that support our team that can recall many games and plays from the last 50 years.  For them to remember me for that one play is a great honor.  I also feel like they remember for more than that one play, too.  I just happened to be the one that got to the quarterback and make the play.  I had a job to do and the ability to do the job.  Coach (Joe) Kines (the defensive coordinator at UA in 1985-86) called me the bellcow because he told me I could make things happen."

The sack is regarded as one of the greatest plays in Alabama football lore and now 20 years later you are inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend, Ind.  How does that make you feel?

"It is really a weird feeling.  I have never been to South Bend or the Notre Dame campus before this weekend election into the Hall of Fame.  The play against Notre Dame and now, 20 years later, going into the Hall of Fame in South Bend gives me an eerie feeling.  Alabama has not had a lot of success against Notre Dame.  To represent The University of Alabama in the College Football Hall of Fame off the only Crimson Tide football team to beat Notre Dame is a great honor for me.  I am very proud to represent The University of Alabama."