National Football Foundation press release
IRVING, Texas (Sept. 8, 2016) – Ashland University and The National Football Foundation (NFF) & College Hall of Fame announced today that they will jointly honor Bill Royce with an NFF Hall of Fame On-Campus Salute, presented by Fidelity Investments®. The Salute will take place Sept. 10 in Ashland, Ohio, during the Eagles' game against Wayne State (Mich.), which is set to kick off at 7 p.m. ET.
"I'm pretty well shocked," Royce said in an Ashland release after the announcement. "I got the football [in the mail], and I didn't know what it was. It said you are in the class of 2016, and I sat down...You look at that list of players, and it just blows your mind. You're talking the best of the best."
The NFF Hall of Fame On-Campus Salute program, which began with the inaugural class in 1951, has become a hallowed tradition, and to this day the singular events remain the first of numerous activities in each inductee's Hall of Fame experience. During the NFF Hall of Fame On-Campus Salutes, each inductee returns to his alma mater to accept a Hall of Fame plaque that will remain on permanent display at the institution. The events take place on the field during a home game, and many inductees cite the experience as the ultimate capstone to their careers, providing them one more chance to take the field and hear the crowd roar their name.
"Bill Royce is one of the most highly decorated defensive players in Division II history," said NFF President and CEO Steve Hatchell. "A First Team All-American in 1993, he is the perfect choice to be the first Eagle player to enter the College Football Hall of Fame. We are thrilled to honor him in front of the Ashland fans at Jack Miller Stadium."
Royce was named a First Team All-American by the Associated Press, C.M. Frank and the Don Hansen Football Gazette in 1993 after posting a single-season school record 20.5 sacks. He would also lead the team in sacks in 1991 and 1992, finishing with an astounding 71 in his career, though it was not an officially kept stat until 2000. Named the MIFC/GLIAC Player of the Year as a senior, Royce is one of just four defensive players to earn the honor.
He was the conference's defensive player and defensive lineman of the year in both 1992 and 1993 while also earning first team all-conference laurels. A Harlon Hill candidate as the top player in Division II as a junior and senior, Royce was Ashland's defensive MVP and team captain both seasons. An AP Third Team All-American in 1992, Royce led the Eagles to national rankings three times while guiding the team to its best four-year record in school history at 33-10-1.
Chosen as Ashland's most outstanding linebacker three times, Royce helped the Eagles defense lead the NCAA in total defense, rushing defense and scoring defense during his junior and senior seasons. He set a single-game school record for sacks with 3.5 against Wayne State (Mich.) in 1993. Royce was selected to play in the 1993 Snow Bowl All-Star Game after posting 366 career tackles. He played for College Football Hall of Fame coach Fred Martinelli, who guided the Eagles from 1959-93.
Royce graduated from Ashland in 1994 with a bachelor's in business administration. He was selected to the Ashland University All Sports Hall of Fame in 2005, and he is a charter member of the Ashland University Gridiron Club. After serving as a sales representative for Eagle Crusher Co. for 10 years, Royce was named KPI-JCI and Astec Mobile Screens' regional sales manager for mobile-crushing and screening-equipment sales in the Mid-Atlantic region.
Including the 2016 class, only 977 players and 211 coaches have been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame from the nearly 5.19 million people who have played or coached the game over the past 147 years. In other words, only two ten-thousandths of one percent (.0002) of those who have set foot on the gridiron have earned the distinction.
The 2016 College Football Hall of Fame Class will be officially inducted at the 59th NFF Annual Awards Dinner, held at New York City's historic Waldorf Astoria Hotel on Tuesday, Dec. 6. This year's College Football Hall of Fame Class includes: Marlin Briscoe (Nebraska Omaha), Derrick Brooks (Florida State), Tom Cousineau (Ohio State), Randall Cunningham (UNLV), Troy Davis (Iowa State), William Fuller (North Carolina), Bert Jones (LSU), Tim Krumrie (Wisconsin), Pat McInally (Harvard), Herb Orvis (Colorado), Bill Royce (Ashland [Ohio]), Mike Utley (Washington State), Scott Woerner (Georgia), Rod Woodson (Purdue) and coaches Bill Bowes (New Hampshire) and Frank Girardi (Lycoming [Pa.]).
For more information, contact Will Rudd at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling 972-556-1000.