Illinois legend Moe Gardner has been selected as a member of the College Football Hall of Fame Class of 2022, the National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame announced Monday on ESPN. Gardner will join 17 previously selected Fighting Illini in the Hall of Fame, including college football legends Red Grange (inducted 1951), Robert Zuppke (inducted 1951) Dick Butkus (inducted 1983), and most recently Dana Howard (inducted 2018).
Gardner is arguably the best defensive tackle in Fighting Illini history. He was a two-time consensus All-American star and helped Illinois to three consecutive bowl games, a Citrus Bowl victory over Virginia in 1989, and a share of the 1990 Big Ten Championship. Gardner earned All-Big Ten honors all four seasons from 1987-90, including first-team recognition his final three years in Champaign. He was a finalist for the 1990 Rotary Lombardi Award and 1989 Outland Trophy.
“My induction to the College Football Hall of Fame represents far more than my individual athletic ability or achievement,” said Gardner. “As such, I’m at a loss for words after being given such an honor. At the core of my induction, is a communal journey that leaves me indebted to countless people throughout my life who have shown a loving grace that laid the foundation for my success on and off the field. My induction celebrates the unyielding lifelong support of my parents, Morris and Mynelle Gardner; they were my first coach and teacher, and Dr. Roberta Gardner my wife of thirty-two years, who continues to be my North Star.
“I would be remiss if I didn’t single out specific thanks to the educators and coaches at Cathedral High School (Indianapolis), University of Illinois athletics staff, all my high School and collegiate teammates, my brother Derrick Brownlow, and coaches: Mike White, Bill Kollar, and Lou Tepper. Also, I would like to send a special shout out to my Illini heroes Claude “Buddy” Young and J.C. Caroline, two trailblazing players who paved the way for African American student-athletes.”
Gardner was the 1990 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, 1989 Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year, and finished his Illinois career as the school-record holder with 57 TFLs. He was named to the Illinois All-Century Team in 1990 as an active player and inducted to the Illinois Athletics Hall of Fame in 2020. Gardner was drafted in the fourth round of the 1991 NFL Draft and played six seasons for the Atlanta Falcons (1991-96).
After earning a master’s degree in library information sciences from Clark Atlanta University, Gardner currently works as a public services librarian principal at the Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History in Atlanta, serving in the reference, research and programs division. His responsibilities include assisting scholars and PhD candidates who study the African diaspora on a global scale.
Gardner will become the 13th Fighting Illini player to be inducted, joining Alex Agase (1941-42, 1946), Al Brosky (1950-52), Dick Butkus (1962-64), Chuck Carney (1918-21), J.C. Caroline (1953-54), Jim Grabowski (1963-65), Red Grange (1923-25), Dana Howard (1991-94), Bart Macomber (1914-16), Bernie Shively (1924-26), David Williams (1983-85) and Buddy Young (1944, 1946). Five former Illinois coaches are also in the Hall: Bob Blackman (1971-76), Pete Elliott (1960-66), Ed Hall (1892-93), George Woodruff (1903) and Bob Zuppke (1913-41).
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 the Fighting Illini’s Red Grange, Notre Dame’s Knute Rockne, Amos Alonzo Stagg and Carlisle (PA)’s Jim Thorpe.
When the 2022 Hall of Fame Class is officially inducted in December, only 1,056 players and 226 coaches will have been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame from the nearly 5.54 million who have played or coached the game during the past 152 years. Less than two one-hundredths of a percent (.02%) of the individuals who have played the game have earned this distinction.
Gardner will be officially inducted on Tuesday, December 6, 2022 at the 64th NFF Annual Awards Dinner. Illinois and the NFF also plan to honor Gardner with an on-campus recognition at Memorial Stadium during a home football game in 2022.
Illinois’ College Football Hall of Fame Members (18)
• Alex Agase, G (inducted 1963)
• Bob Blackman, coach (inducted 1987)
• Al Brosky, DB (inducted 1998)
• Dick Butkus, LB (inducted 1983)
• Chuck Carney, WR (inducted 1966)
• J.C. Caroline, RB (inducted 1980)
• Pete Elliot, coach (inducted 1993)
• Moe Gardner, DL (inducted 2022)
• Jim Grabowski, RB (inducted 1995)
• Harold “Red” Grange, RB (inducted 1951)
• Edward K. Hall, coach (inducted 1951)
• Dana Howard, LB (inducted 2018)
• Bart Macomber, RB (inducted 1972)
• Bernie Shively, G (inducted 1982)
• David Williams, WR (inducted 2005)
• George W. Woodruff, coach (inducted 1963)
• Claude “Buddy” Young, RB (inducted 1968)
• Robert Zuppke, coach (inducted 1951)
2022 College Football Hall of Fame Class
• LaVar Arrington – LB, Penn State (1997-99)
• Champ Bailey – DB, Georgia (1996-98)
• Michael Crabtree – WR, Texas Tech (2007-08)
• Sylvester Croom – C, Alabama (1972-74)
• Mike Doss – S, Ohio State (1999-2002)
• Chuck Ealey – QB, Toledo (1969-71)
• Kevin Faulk – AP/RB, LSU (1995-98)
• Moe Gardner – DT, Illinois (1987-90)
• Boomer Grigsby – LB, Illinois State (2001-04)
• Mike Hass – WR, Oregon State (2002-05)
• Marvin Jones – LB, Florida State (1990-92)
• Andrew Luck – QB, Stanford (2009-11)
• Mark Messner – DT, Michigan (1985-88)
• Terry Miller – RB, Oklahoma State (1974-77)
• Rashaan Salaam – RB, Colorado (1992-94)
• Dennis Thomas – C, Alcorn State (1971-73)
• Zach Wiegert – OT, Nebraska (1991-94)
• Roy Williams – DB, Oklahoma (1999-2001)
• John Luckhardt – 225-70-2 (76.1%); Washington & Jefferson [PA] (1982-98), California [PA] (2002-11)
• Billy Jack Murphy – 91-44-1 (67.3%); Memphis (1958-71)
• Gary Pinkel – 191-110-3 (63.3%); Toledo (1991-2000), Missouri (2001-15)