Illinois defensive greats Simeon Rice, Dana Howard and Moe Gardner are among a large group of former Big Ten players on this year's ballot for the College Football Hall of Fame.
All in all, 24 players and one coach who used to represent Big Ten schools were on the list of 200 candidates up for election for induction into the Hall of Fame.
The Illini saw three of their all-time best defenders land on the list.
Rice is Illinois' all-time leader in sacks (44.5) and tackles for loss (69) and owns the program's single-season records for sacks (16) and tackles for loss (23). Rice, a Chicago native and Mount Carmel product, recorded a whopping five sacks in one game back in the Illini's game against Washington State in 1994. He was twice named a First Team All-American. Rice was the third-overall pick in the 1996 NFL Draft and spent 13 seasons in the NFL with the Cardinals, Buccaneers, Broncos and Colts. He was a three-time Pro Bowler, a four-time All-Pro and won Super Bowl XXXVII with the Buccaneers.
[MORE BIG TEN: Ex-Michigan AD Dave Brandon named new Toys"R"Us CEO]
Howard, meanwhile, is Illinois' all-time leading tackler with 595 tackles. He has the two best tackling games in program history, making 20 against Ohio State and 16 against Michigan both during the 1991 season. Howard, a native of East St. Louis, led the Illini in tackles in all four seasons of his career. He was twice named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and won the Butkus Award in 1994. Howard played for the Rams and the Bears during a three-year NFL career.
Gardner ranks second to Rice in Illinois history in all-time tackles for loss with 57 of them, and he ranks in the top 10 in career sacks, single-season sacks and single-season tackles for loss, as well. He was the 1990 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and a two-time First Team All-American. He spent six seasons in the NFL with the Falcons.
Here's a look at the rest of the Big Ten names up for election on this year's ballot:
— Morten Andersen, K, Michigan State
— Erick Anderson, LB, Michigan
— Larry Burton, WR, Purdue
— Keith Byars, RB, Ohio State
— Kerry Collins, QB, Penn State
— Tom Cousineau, LB, Ohio State
— Eric Crouch, QB, Nebraska
— Tim Dwight, KR, Iowa
— Jumbo Elliott, OT, Michigan
— Kirk Gibson, WR, Michigan State
— Tim Krumrie, DT, Wisconsin
— Mark Messner, DT, Michigan
— Jim Otis, FB, Ohio State
— Antwaan Randle El, QB, Indiana
— Bob Stein, DE, Minnesota
— Taylor Stubblefield, WR, Purdue
— Andre Tippett, DE, Iowa
— Lorenzo White, RB, Michigan State
— Zach Wiegert, OT, Nebraska
— Steve Wisniewski, OG, Penn State
— Rod Woodson, DB, Purdue
— Darryl Rogers, head coach, Michigan State