The College Football Hall of Fame recently announced its 2016 inductee class. While many college football fans know the names of Derrick Brooks, Rod Woodson, Mike Utley and Randall Cunningham, not everyone knows the name of Bill Royce.
Well, you should… and now you can.
Bill Royce went to the small school of Ashland University in the middle of Ohio. By the time he graduated in 1993, he would be one of NCAAs most decorated defensive players. The linebacker may have been on the smaller DII level, but his play was larger than life.
Royce was a beast. He finished his NCAA career with 71 sacks — which was not just tops on the DII level, but the all-time NCAA mark. He had a three-year run that saw him register 18.5 sacks, 20 sacks and 20.5 sacks respectively. If you looked up unstoppable in the dictionary, Royce would likely be charging at you.
Ashland’s defense would be tops in DII in scoring, rushing and total defense for both Royce’s junior and senior year. He was a two time MIFC (which is now the GLIAC — the conference Brian Kelly got his start in leading Grand Valley State to back-to-back championships) Defensive Player of the Year, as well as an All- American and the MIFC Player of the Year — a feat that a defensive player has only accomplished four times.
Now, after quite some time on the ballot, he finally gets his rightful place amongst the other legends of NCAA lore. He will be enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame this coming December. His coach — Dr. Fred Martinelli who retired the same year that Royce graduated — is already an inductee. That gives the small college of Ashland two people on College Football’s highest platform, and that gives the Eagles the proverbial street cred.
I was lucky enough to catch up with Bill Royce, as well as Ashland’s athletic director Al King. To find out more about Royce’s incredible story, read my piece at the NCAA DII portal below: