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Cornelius Bennett Named 2007 Legend of the Sun Bowl



El Paso, Texas ?? College Football Hall of Fame member and former University of Alabama All-American, Cornelius Bennett, has been named to the 2007 Legends of the Sun Bowl Team, Bernie Olivas, Executive Director of the Sun Bowl Association, announced today.

Bennett is joined by former coaching legend Don James, who compiled a 178-76-3 (.698) record in 22 seasons as a collegiate head coach at Kent State and Washington, including two Sun Bowl appearances.

“We are really excited to have the opportunity to add Cornelius Bennett and Don James to our Legends of the Sun Bowl,” said Olivas. “Both have lasting legacies in the sport of college football and we are just glad that some of that history was left in Sun Bowl Stadium.”

Bennett, a three-time All-American at Alabama, played in the 1983 Sun Bowl against SMU and the 1986 Sun Bowl against Washington. Against SMU, Bennett had a seven-tackle performance, as the Crimson Tide upset No. 6 SMU, 28-7.

In 1986, Bennett led No. 12 Alabama to a 28-6 win over No. 13 Washington. He had 11 tackles and one sack against the Huskies and was named the C.M. Hendricks Most Valuable Player. At the time, Bennett was just the third defensive player in the game’s history to win the MVP award.

A native of Birmingham, Ala., Bennett was the 1986 Southeastern Conference Player of the Year, as well as the 1986 Lombardi Trophy winner. He also finished seventh in the Heisman Trophy balloting that season. In all, he finished the 1986 campaign with 61 tackles, 23 for a loss, with 15 sacks, six forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.

Bennett had a storied career at Alabama, which included defensive MVP at the 1985 Aloha Bowl and three-time All-SEC selection. He recorded 287 tackles, 37 tackles for a loss and 20 sacks during his four-year stay at Alabama. He was named to the Tide’s Team of the Century and was also named the Player of the Decade for the 1980s. Bennett was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2005.

The seventh overall pick in the 1987 NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts, Bennett played 14 seasons in the NFL (1987-2000) and started in five Super Bowls, including four consecutive appearances with the Buffalo Bills (1990-1993).

Bennett had an outstanding NFL career, which included five Pro Bowl appearances (1989, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994) and two AFC Defensive Player of the Year awards in 1988 and 1991. He recorded 71.5 sacks, seven interceptions and 26 fumble recoveries during his NFL career. At the time of his retirement, Bennett’s 26 fumble recoveries ranked third all-time in NFL history.

After playing with the Bills from 1987-95, Bennett spent the next three seasons with the Atlanta Falcons, where he helped lead the Falcons to the Super Bowl in 1998. He closed out his career with the Indianapolis, playing for two seasons with the Colts.

James brought Washington to El Paso in 1979 and 1986. In 1979, his No. 13 Huskies stunned No. 11 Texas, 14-7, at Sun Bowl Stadium. He returned to the Sun City in 1986, where No. 12 Washington was knocked off by No. 13 Alabama, 28-6, a game in which Bennett played.

In 1971, James became head coach at Kent State University, where he compiled a 25-19 record over four years. While there, he coached NFL great Jack Lambert and current Alabama head coach Nick Saban. He led the Golden Flashes to their only conference title in 1972 and a trip to the Tangerine Bowl.

In 1994, the Sun Bowl Association and the Rotary Club of El Paso commenced the Legends of the Sun Bowl team to honor individuals whose exemplary accomplishments have enhanced the bowl throughout its 74-year history. Legends are honored at the annual Rotary Sun Bowl Team Luncheon held the week of the game.

Previous inductees have included the following: Charley Johnson, Harrison Kohl and Bill Stevens (1994); Johnny Majors (1995); Tony Dorsett (1996); Tom Brookshier and Pat Summerall (1997); Jesse Whittenton (1998); Hayden Fry and Jimmy Rogers, Jr. (1999); Vince Dooley and Derrick Thomas (2000); John H. Folmer and Barry Switzer (2001); Thurman Thomas (2002); Ken Heineman (2003); Pat Tillman and Alex Van Pelt (2004); Terry Donahue and Verne Lundquist (2005); and Grant Teaff and Tony Franklin (2006).

Cornelius Bennett College Career

Year  Team(s) 






1983  Alabama  12 




1984  Alabama  12 





1985  Alabama  12 





1986  Alabama  12 





Career    48