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Paul Johnson Selected for College Football Hall of Fame

NFF Announces Star-Studded 2023 Class | GS Athletics
Credit: GS Athletics

IRVING, Texas – The National Football Foundation (NFF) & College Hall of Fame announced today the 2023 College Football Hall of Fame Class, one that includes for Georgia Southern head coach Paul Johnson.

The 18 First-Team All-America players and four standout coaches in the 2023 Class were selected from the national ballot of 80 players and nine coaches from the Football Bowl Subdivision and 96 players and 33 coaches from the divisional ranks.

"We are extremely proud to announce the 2023 College Football Hall of Fame Class," said Archie Manning, NFF Chairman and a 1989 College Football Hall of Famer from Mississippi. "Each of these men has established himself among the absolute best to have ever played or coached the game, and we look forward to immortalizing their incredible accomplishments."

The 2023 College Football Hall of Fame Class will officially be inducted during the 65th NFF Annual Awards Dinner Presented by Las Vegas on Dec. 5, 2023, at the ARIA Resort & Casino Las Vegas.

The inductees will also be recognized at their respective collegiate institutions with NFF Hall of Fame On-Campus Salutes, presented by Fidelity Investments, during the fall. Their accomplishments will be forever immortalized at the Chick-fil-A College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta, and each inductee will receive a custom ring created by Jostens, the official and exclusive supplier of NFF rings.

Johnson, who went 62-10 in five seasons as the head coach of the Eagles with two national championships and five Southern Conference titles, joins two of his pupils in the Hall of Fame. While serving as the offensive coordinator, Johnson mentored Tracy Ham (c/o 2007) and was the head coach when Adrian Peterson (c/o 2017) played in Statesboro.

1. First and foremost, a player must have received First-Team All-America recognition by a selector recognized by the NCAA and utilized to comprise its consensus All-America teams.
2. A player becomes eligible for consideration by the NFF's Honors Court 10 full seasons after his final year of intercollegiate football played.
3. 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. Consideration may also be given for academic honors and whether or not the candidate earned a college degree.
4. Players must have played their last year of intercollegiate football within the last 50 years*. For example, to be eligible for the 2023 ballot, the player must have played his last year in 1973 or thereafter. In addition, current professional players and/or coaches are not eligible until retirement.
5. A coach becomes eligible three full seasons after retirement or immediately following retirement provided he is at least 70 years old. Active coaches become eligible at 75 years of age. He must have been a head football coach for a minimum of 10 years and coached at least 100 games with a .600 winning percentage.
6. Nominations may only be submitted by the current athletics director, head coach or sports information director (SID) of a potential candidate's collegiate institution. Nominations may also be submitted by the president/executive director of a dues-paying chapter of the National Football Foundation.
* Players that do not comply with the 50-year rule may still be eligible for consideration by the Football Bowl Subdivision and Divisional Veterans Committees. Veterans Committee candidates must still meet First-Team All-America requirement.

• When the 2023 Hall of Fame Class is officially inducted in December, only 1,074 players and 230 coaches will have been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame from the nearly 5.62 million who have played or coached the game during the past 153 years. In other words, less than two one-hundredths of a percent (.02%) of the individuals who have played the game have earned this distinction.
• Founded in 1947, The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame inducted its first class of inductees in 1951. The first class included 32 players and 22 coaches, including Illinois' Red Grange, Notre Dame's Knute Rockne, Amos Alonzo Stagg and Carlisle (PA)'s Jim Thorpe.
• 320 schools are represented with at least one College Football Hall of Famer.
• Induction for the 2023 Class will take place Dec. 5, 2023, during the 65th NFF Annual Awards Dinner Presented by Las Vegas.

2023 College Football Hall of Fame Class Bios
Georgia Southern University (1997-2001), United States Naval Academy (2002-2007), Georgia Tech (2008-2018)
Head Coach, 189-99-0 (65.6%)

• Capitalizing on his patented spread option offense – one of the most innovative offensive schemes in all of college football – Paul Johnson took three programs to the top of their respective conferences and the national rankings, winning two national titles, five conference championships and making 18 bowl appearances. The Newland, North Carolina, native now becomes the first coach from Georgia Southern, the fourth coach from Georgia Tech, and the fifth coach from Navy to enter the College Football Hall of Fame.

• In his last stop at Georgia Tech, Johnson went 82-60 during 11 seasons, and the Yellow Jackets appeared in the final national rankings in 2008 (No. 22), 2009 (No. 13), and 2014 (No. 8). He led Georgia Tech to nine bowl games, including two New Year's Six bowls (Orange 2009, 2014). The Yellow Jackets appeared in three ACC Championship games during his tenure and won the ACC Coastal Division four times. His Georgia Tech teams led the ACC in rushing offense every year, and he was named ACC Coach of the Year three times (2008, 2009, 2014). He is the fourth-winningest coach at Georgia Tech behind John Heisman, William Alexander, and Bobby Dodd, who are all in College Football Hall of Fame. He coached two of nine total 10-win seasons and one of five 11-win seasons in Georgia Tech history.

• At Navy, he inherited a program that had gone 1-20 in the previous two seasons. Johnson transformed the program, and during his six seasons in Annapolis, the Midshipmen went 45-29, landing at No. 24 in 2004. He coached Navy to five bowl berths. Johnson went 11-1 in Commander in Chief's games, winning five Commander in Chief's trophies, which represents the annual winner of the Air Force-Army-Navy round-robin. He never lost to Army, going 6-0 against the Black Knights, and he led Navy to a victory over Notre Dame for the first time in 43 years.

• In his five seasons at Georgia Southern, the Eagles notched a 62-10 record, making five FCS playoff appearances and winning the FCS championship twice (1999 and 2000). He won the Southern Conference with Georgia Southern every year. He was twice named Southern Conference Coach of the Year (1997 and 1998) while heading the Eagles' program. Johnson was inducted into the Georgia Southern Athletics Hall of Fame in 2010. Johnson coached eight first-team All-Americans and 24 total All-Americans as the head coach of the Eagles. He coached 1999 Walter Payton Award winner and 2017 College Football Hall of Fame inductee Adrian Peterson at Georgia Southern and 2010 Burlsworth Trophy recipient Sean Bedford at Georgia Tech.

• Johnson was recognized as the CBS National Coach of the Year in 2008, the Bobby Dodd National Coach of the Year in 2004, and the Eddie Robinson Award winner as the I-AA National Coach of the Year in 1998. He was twice named the AFCA NCAA Division I-AA National Coach of the Year (1999, 2000).

• Before becoming a head coach, Johnson served as offensive coordinator at Navy (1995-96), Hawaii (1987-94), Georgia Southern (1985-86) and as defensive line coach at Georgia Southern (1983-84). During his first stint at Georgia Southern, he was part of the coaching team that won consecutive FCS National Championships (1985-86) with the Eagles. As offensive coordinator at Georgia Southern, he mentored 2007 College Football Hall of Fame inductee Tracy Ham. His coaching career began with roles as an offensive coordinator at Avery County (N.C.) High School from 1979-80 and at nearby Lees-McRae College from 1981-82.

• He has participated in a wide variety of charitable endeavors at each of his schools over the years, including his annual participation in the Bobby Dodd and Chick-fil-A charity golf tournaments, which raise money for the Bobby Dodd Foundation, WinShape Homes and the schools' scholarship funds. Johnson earned his bachelor's degree in physical education from Western Carolina in 1979 and his master's in health and physical education from Appalachian State in 1982.