Former Stanford football great Darrin Nelson will be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame this evening as one of the 14 members of the class of 2014.
The 18th Stanford player to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, Nelson is being honored during the National Football Foundation's annual awards dinner at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York City.
Nelson becomes one of just 29 members of the Hall of Fame to also have earned a National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete award as a collegiate, an honor he earned in 1981.
Current Stanford football student-athlete Jordan Richards, a senior public policy major from Folsom, also will be recognized as one of 17 Scholar-Athlete awardees. Richards earns a postgraduate scholarship and is a finalist for the Campbell trophy as college football's top scholar-athlete.
"It's a great honor, a lot of fun," said Nelson during Tuesday's press conference. "The funny part was when I was recruited by Bill Walsh, I was recruited with a caveat. The caveat was, Learn my offense or you're not going to play.
"For any of you who know anything about Bill, his offense was ridiculously complicated. For a starting freshman who played every down, it was difficult. But, you know what, it was the best experience of my life because everything in the pros was cake after that, any offense was cake. I have to give Bill a lot of credit and also my teammates."
Playing for legendary Walsh between 1977-81, Nelson and the Cardinal introduced the "West Coast offense" that would revolutionize the game. Establishing a new vision for the running back position, Nelson was the first college football player to rush for more than 1,000 yards and catch at least 50 passes in a single season a feat he accomplished three times at Stanford. He finished sixth in the 1981 Heisman Trophy voting and his impact is still reflected in today's game.
His greater impact was on display at Stanford where he garnered Academic All-America honors and was selected as a National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete. Nelson was also a record-breaking star on the track and field team and was inducted into the Stanford Athletic Hall of Fame.
A four-time All-Pac-10 honoree and first team All-American, Nelson rushed for 4,033 yards at Stanford, set an NCAA record with 6,885 career all-purpose yards while scoring 40 touchdowns and catching 214 passes. He graduated in 1981 and would later return to Stanford where he spent 15 years in its administration.
After graduating from Stanford, Nelson went on to a very successful 11-year career in the National Football League. After being drafted seventh overall in the 1982 draft by the Minnesota Vikings, Nelson played nine seasons with the Vikings (1982-89, 1991-92) and two with the San Diego Chargers (1989-90). Nelson, who led the NFL at 4.9 yards per carry in 1987, amassed more than 7,000 yards rushing and receiving with 23 touchdowns before retiring after the 1992 season.