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Former Eastern Kentucky University running back Markus Thomas is on this year’s College Football Hall of Fame ballot released on Wednesday by the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame. Thomas is one of 95 players and 29 coaches from the divisional ranks. The ballot also included 75 players and six coaches from the FBS division.

Thomas, one of the most prolific running backs in NCAA history,  holds the Ohio Valley Conference record with 5,552 career rushing yards and 54 touchdowns.

A 1992 All-American, Thomas earned OVC Offensive Player of the Year honors during his junior and senior seasons (1991-92). A three-time All-Conference selection, the Cincinnati, Ohio native also holds the conference career record with 6.3 yards per carry.

Thomas owns the OVC’s seventh(1,620 yards) best single-season rushing marks. His 322 career points are also a league record.

The 12-time OVC Player of the Week went on to play professionally for the Philadelphia Eagles of the NFL, Scottish Claymores of NFL Europe and the Hamilton TigerCats of the Canadian Football League.

“It’s an enormous honor to just be on the ballot when you think that more than 5.12 million people have played college football,” said NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell. “The Hall’s requirement of being a First-Team All-American creates a much smaller pool of only 1,500 individuals who are even eligible to be on the ballot, so being in today’s elite group means an individual is truly among the greatest to ever have played the game, and we are proud to announce their names. We look forward to announcing the 2017 Hall of Fame Class on the Friday before the College Football Playoff National Championship in Tampa.”

The ballot was emailed this week to the more than 12,000 NFF members and current Hall of Famers whose votes will be tabulated and submitted to the NFF’s Honors Courts, which deliberate and select the class. The FBS Honors Court, chaired by NFF Board Member and College Football Hall of Famer Archie Griffin from Ohio State, and the Divisional Honors Court, chaired by former Marshall head coach, longtime athletics director and NFF Board Member Jack Lengyel, include an elite and geographically diverse pool of athletic administrators, Hall of Famers and members of the media.

“Having a ballot and a voice in the selection of the inductees is one of the most cherished NFF member benefits,” said NFF Chairman Archie Manning, a 1989 Hall of Fame inductee from Mississippi. “There is no group more knowledgeable or passionate about college football than our membership, and the tradition of the ballot helps us engage them in the lofty responsibility of selecting those who have reached the pinnacle of achievement in our sport.”

The announcement of the 2017 Class will be made Friday, Jan. 6, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. The city is serving as the host for the CFP National Championship, which will be played Jan. 9 at Raymond James Stadium. Some of the inductees will be on site at the press conference to represent the class and share their thoughts on the announcement. The Jan. 6 announcement will be televised live, and specific viewing information will be available as the date draws near. Inductees will also participate in the pregame festivities and the coin toss on Jan. 9.

The criteria for Hall of Fame consideration includes:

  • First and foremost, a player must have received First-Team All-America recognition by a selector organization that is recognized by the NCAA and utilized to comprise their consensus All-America teams.
  • A player becomes eligible for consideration by the Foundation’s Honors Courts 10 full seasons after his final year of intercollegiate football played.
    While each nominee’s football achievements in college are of prime consideration, his post-football record as a citizen is also weighed. He must have proven himself worthy as a citizen, carrying the ideals of football forward into his relations with his community and his fellow man, with love of his country. Consideration may also be given for academic honors and whether or not the candidate earned a college degree.
  • Players must have played their last year of intercollegiate football within the last 50 years.* For example, to be eligible for the 2017 ballot, the player must have played his last year in 1967 or thereafter. In addition, 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 provided he is at least 70 years of age. Active coaches become eligible at 75 years of age. He must have been a head coach for a minimum of 10 years and coached at least 100 games with a .600 winning percentage.