Hall of Fame induction might be in the offing for former University of Utah football greats Alex Smith and Eric Weddle.

The pair of Utes, who starred at the U. in the mid-2000s, were both named on the 2023 ballot for the College Football Hall of Fame.

Smith and Weddle are two of 80 former FBS players who will be considered for Hall of Fame induction (the voting deadline is June 30). In total, 96 total players are in the running, as well as 33 coaches.

“It’s an enormous honor to just be on the College Football Hall of Fame ballot considering more than 5.54 million people have played college football and only 1,056 players have been inducted,” National Football Foundation President and CEO Steve Hatchell said in a statement. “The Hall’s requirement of being a First-Team All-American creates a much smaller pool of about 1,500 individuals who are even eligible.

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“Being in today’s elite group means an individual is truly among the greatest to have ever played the game, and we look forward to announcing the 2023 College Football Hall of Fame Class early next year.”

The 2023 College Football Hall of Fame Class will be inducted during the 65th NFF Annual Awards Dinner on Dec. 5, 2023.

The Hall of Fame case for former Utah quarterback Alex Smith

Utah’s Alex Smith as the University of Utah and San Diego State University play in San Diego, Calif., on Oct. 30, 2004. | Tom Smart, Deseret News
  • The No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 NFL draft, Smith earned first-team All-America honors at Utah in 2004 and finished his collegiate career with over 5,000 (5,203) passing yards, over 1,000 (1,072) rushing yards and 62 total touchdowns (47 passing touchdowns and 15 rushing touchdowns).
  • He was a two-time All-Mountain West Conference selection, and earned MWC Offensive Player of the Year and National Player of the Year (Sports Illustrated) in 2004.
  • Smith was the 2005 Fiesta Bowl MVP, and was a 2020 Academic All-America Hall of Fame inductee.

The Hall of Fame case for former Utah safety Eric Weddle

Utah safety Eric Weddle (32) scores a touchdown past Tulsa defensive end Robert Latu (91) in the second half of the Armed Forces Bowl football game Saturday, Dec. 23, 2006, in Fort Worth, Texas. Utah won 25-13. | Matt Slocum, Associated Press
  • An All-Pro NFL defender, Weddle recorded 277 tackles — 165 solo tackles — 10.0 sacks and 22.5 tackles for loss as a Ute. Weddle also forced fine fumbles in his collegiate career, had six fumble recoveries (two of which he returned for touchdowns), 18 interceptions, including three pick-sixes, and 23 pass breakups.
  • Weddle held the MW record for interceptions (18), and still ranks second all-time at Utah.
  • He was the MW Defensive Player of the Year in both 2005 and 2006, and a four-time all-conference selection. He was a consensus All-American in 2006, and also awarded Freshman All-America honors by the Football Writers Association of America in 2003.

How are College Football Hall-of-Famers selected?

The criteria for consideration in the College Football Hall of Fame includes:

  • Players must have received First-Team All-America recognition by an organization that is recognized by the NCAA.
  • Players become eligible for induction 10 full seasons after their final year of college football.
  • Each nominee’s football achievements in college are the main consideration, though their post-football record (what kind of a person they are off the field) also matters. Academic honors and whether or not a candidate earned a degree can also be factors.
  • Players must have played their last year of college football within the last 50 years. Players who are playing professionally and coaches who are coaching on the professional level are not eligible until after they retire.
  • A coach becomes eligible three full seasons after retirement or immediately following retirement if they are at least 70. Active coaches become eligible at 75. Coaches must have been a head football coach for a minimum of 10 years and coached at least 100 games, winning at least 60% of them.

What other Utah ties are in the running for the College Football Hall of Fame?

UCLA quarterback Drew Olson (14) runs out of the pocket to evade Oregon defenders Haloti Ngata (96) and Chris Solomona 47) during the first half Saturday, Nov. 13, 2004, in Eugene, Ore. | Don Ryan, Associated Press

There are many notable college players in consideration for 2023 induction, including former Highland High standout Haloti Ngata, former Weber State/Snow College quarterback Josh Heupel and former Utah wide receivers coach Taylor Stubblefield.

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  • While at Oregon, Ngata was a consensus First Team All-American in 2005, the Ducks’ first consensus player since 1962. He was also a two-time All-Pac-10 selection and the first player in Oregon history to be named Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year (2005). Ngata was a finalist for both the Nagurski and Outland trophies (2005) and a Freshman All-American (2002).
  • Heupel, a former Weber State and Snow College quarterback, was a First Team All-American and the Walter Camp Player of the Year (2000) while at Oklahoma. He was also the Heisman Trophy runner-up (2000), and led the Sooners to a national title (2001).
  • Stubblefield, Utah’s wide receivers coach from 2014-2015, was a consensus First Team All-American at Purdue (2004). He set the NCAA record for career receptions (316), was a two-time All-Big Ten selection, and a Biletnikoff Award finalist (2004).

The full list of nominees can be found here.