Dec. 9, 2008
NEW YORK, N.Y. - Former Washington State record-setting All-America running back Rueben Mayes was inducted into the National Football Foundation College Football Hall of Fame tonight in ceremonies at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York.
"When I think of this gathering today, I am very humbled," Mayes said earlier today. "I actually came from a different country (Canada) and was graciously accepted by all the people at Washington State. When I speak to young people today, I tell them to reach for the stars. Anything is possible with enough hard work and help from your coaches and teammates. Thank you for sharing this with me today."
Joining Mayes in the Class of 2008 are quarterback Troy Aikman (UCLA, 1987-88), running back Billy Cannon (LSU, 1957-59), offensive tackle Jim Dombrowski (Virginia, 1982-85), linebacker Pat Fitzgerald (Northwestern 1994-96), linebacker Wilber Marshall (Florida, 1980-83), offensive guard Randall McDaniel (Arizona State, 1984-87), quarterback Don McPherson (Syracuse, 1984-87), tight end Jay Novacek (Wyoming, 1982-84), split end Dave Parks (Texas Tech, 1961-63), nose guard Ron Simmons (Florida State, 1977-80), running back Thurman Thomas (Oklahoma State, 1984-87), and quarterback Arnold Tucker (Army, 1944-46).
Additionally, two coaches are part of the induction class, John Cooper, who amassed a career record of 192-84-6 at Tulsa, Arizona State and Ohio State; and Lou Holtz, who boasts a career record of 249-132-7 while coaching at William & Mary, North Carolina State, Arkansas, Minnesota, Notre Dame and South Carolina.
Mayes is the first Cougar player to be inducted into the Hall of Fame since tackle Glen "Turk" Edwards (1929-31) was enshrined in 1975, and the third player overall. Center Mel Hein (1928-30) was the first Cougar to be inducted in 1954.
He also joins head coaches Orin "Babe" Hollingbery (1979) and Forest "Evy" Evashevski (2000), giving WSU five individuals in the Hall of Fame. Hollingbery coached WSU from 1926-42, while Evashevski coached the Cougars from 1950-51.
"This school means a lot to me for not only my athletic career, but also my professional career," said Mayes. "A lot of people helped me along the way, from high school and collegiate coaches to mentors at a number of different levels."
Mayes, who played for the Cougars from 1982-85, led the Pacific-10 Conference in rushing as both a junior and a senior, garnering league player of the year honors following each season. He completed his career as the Cougars' all-time leading rusher and ranked sixth on the conference career rushing list with 3,519 yards. He was the first Cougar running back to post back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons and held WSU's single-season rushing mark of 1,637 yards for more than 20 years until Jerome Harrison eclipsed that mark in 2005.
"One of my fondest memories at Washington State was beating the Huskies in the Apple Cup my senior year," Mayes said. "The culmination of my final game as a collegiate athlete and the history behind the game made for a memorable experience. It was also really cold, I will never forget that."
As a junior Mayes set WSU, Pac-10 and NCAA Division I records with 357 rushing yards against Oregon. He also had 216 yards against Stanford the previous week, setting WSU, Pac-10 and NCAA records for rushing yards in consecutive games (573 yards).
"The Stanford game really ignited our team," said Mayes. "I had been injured the year before, and I worked really hard heading into my junior season. We had a great game as a team against Stanford, and against Oregon we had to run the ball because it was so wet. We ran the draw a ton and we kept getting yards. I didn't realize how many yards I had until the end of the game."
Drafted by New Orleans in the third round of the 1986 draft, Mayes was named the NFL Rookie of the Year after rushing for 1,353 yards in his first year with the Saints. He played with New Orleans through the 1991 season, earning selections to the Pro Bowl in 1986 and 1987. After playing five years with the Saints, Mayes played two seasons with the Seattle Seahawks before retiring. His professional totals included 866 carries for 3,484 yards and 23 touchdowns in seven seasons.
Mayes was inducted into the WSU Athletics Hall of Fame in 1993.