HOF Class: 1999
In addition to the number of coaches that have “cut their teeth” in Oxford, Miami University also boasts an impressive list of alums such as Walter Alston, Paul Brown, Weeb Eubank, Ara Parseghian and Bo Schembechler, men who would become legends. And while the list of former players can’t stack up to those that have blown the whistle over the years, Redskin (yes, I know) fans have seen some damn good gridiron stars, and the most notable is not Ben Roethlisberger. Rather it’s the NCAA (yes, NCAA) leader in career touchdowns, and a back that only sees Ron Dayne, Ricky Williams, Tony Dorsett, DeAngelo Williams and Charles White ahead of him on the all-time rushing list. Still stumped? Then maybe, Mr. College Football Super Diehard Fan, you should’ve been paying attention while Travis Prentice was schooling MAC defenses.
Initially we decided to limit our HOF inductees to those that played after 2000. However we’re making an exception in the case of Prentice because, well, we want to make an exception. His numbers are that impressive. Sure there may not have been too many college fantasy footballers back in 1999, but we’re certain those trailblazers knew the value of this Miami tailback. Not everyone could nab LaDanian Tomlinson, Ron Dayne or Shaun Alexander, and those that were “stuck” with Prentice likely saw their season turn out just fine.
Travis Prentice redshirted as a freshman in 1995, and then posted 601 yards and 12 touchdowns in 1996. Nice numbers, but nowhere near what was to come. 1997-1999 saw Prentice put up 1,687, 1,894, and 1,929 respectively. His whopping 25-touchdown total in 1997 set an NCAA record, and his 41 scores over the next two seasons weren’t too bad either. When he was all done Prentice had nearly 5600 yards and scored 78 times. And he still couldn’t crack the top-ten in Heisman balloting. Hell, even LaVar Arrington received three first-place votes, so clearly not even the college football voting elite was aware of this burly back running for one of the original “Public Ivies.”
The Akron Zips came to Oxford on November 6, 1999 and Travis Prentice was waiting, ready to jack them with a sock full of pennies. 376 rushing yards and three touchdowns later the poor Zips were bruised and battered. And Travis Prentice had bested the career touchdown record that had recently been set by Ricky Williams. Oh, and he passed a couple of fellas by the name of Herschel and Archie.
The Travis Prentice era in Oxford saw him run for two great coaches in Randy Walker and Terry Hoeppner, men who would rejuvenate two Big Ten traditional doormats before being taken from us way too soon. He was a workhorse who did it against MAC defenses and the likes of North Carolina and Virginia Tech, though like many of our Hall of Fame inductees, Prentice struggled to make an impact at the professional level.
Following a solid rookie year with seven scores he could never quite find his niche in the league. But our induction committee always overlooks one’s NFL career, especially for a college fantasy superstar whose collegiate success is often overlooked as well.