Former All-American kicker Alex Henery and three-time national champion linebacker Jay Foreman headline a class of five players (four Huskers and one state college coach to be inducted into the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame in September, the university announced on Tuesday.
The class, which will be formally introduced prior to Nebraska’s game against Northern Illinois at Memorial Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 14, features Henery, Foreman, a pair of All-Big Eight offensive linemen in Mark Behning and Greg Jorgensen, former Nebraska-Kearney wide receiver Richie Ross and Chadron State coach and athletic director Brad Smith.
The Hall will also recognize Tom and Patty Hastings of Omaha with its Clarence E. Swanson Meritorious Service Award, while long-time Nebraska Athletic Department administrators Butch Hug and Shot Kleen will be honored with Lyell Bremser Special Merit Awards.
Prior to 2015, players must have been either an All-American or first-team all-conference selection to make the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame ballot. Beginning in 2015, Huskers who earned second-team all-conference honors dating back to the expansion of the Big Eight to the Big 12 (1996) and now the 14-team Big Ten, are eligible. Players are not eligible for the ballot until after a 10-year waiting period from the end of their collegiate careers. Major national award winners earn automatic induction. Active NFL players are not on the ballot.
The Nebraska Football Hall of Fame is sponsored by the Nebraska Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame.
The 2019 Class
- Alex Henery — A four-year starter for Nebraska from 2007 to 2010, the Omaha native connected on an NCAA-record 88.9 percent (68-76) of his field goals during his career. He also scored a Nebraska-record 397 points thanks in part to a near-perfect 193-of-194 career mark on PATs. Henery, whose 68 career field goals were also a school record, earned first-team All-America honors for Nebraska as a senior in 2010. He was a Ray Guy Award finalist and a two-time Lou Groza Award semifinalist and an All-Big 12 selection as both a place-kicker and punter in 2009 and 2010. The Omaha Burke High School graduate went on to a four-year career in the NFL after a fourth-round draft selection by the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2011 draft. In his first season, Henery set the NFL record for field goal accuracy by a rookie kicker (.889, 24-27) while also hitting all 46 of his PATs. In 2012, he connected on a franchise-record 22 consecutive field goals, while finishing 27-of-31 (.871) on the season.
- Jay Foreman — A Butkus Award semifinalist as a senior at Nebraska in 1998, Former was a major contributor on Nebraska’s 1997 national title team and earned All-Big Eight honors in his final two seasons in Lincoln. The linebacker from Eden Prairie, Minnesota, finished his Nebraska career with 233 tackles, before going on to eight highly productive seasons in the NFL. He starred on defense with the Bills (where he was drafted in the fifth round in 1999), Texans, Giants and 49ers, finishing his pro career with 527 tackles and five fumble recoveries. During his NFL offseasons, he completed his MBA at Harvard. He is the president of The Foreman Foundation and continues to work as a commentator, professional speaker and author.
- Mark Behning — A three-year contributor at offensive tackle on some of the most prolific offenses in Nebraska history in 1982, 1983 and 1984, Behning earned Hall of Fame induction with his All-Big Eight honors as a senior in 1984. Behning earned his first letter as a sophomore tackle for the Huskers in 1982, when Nebraska led the nation in rushing offense (394.3 ypg), total offense (518.6 ypg) and scoring offense (41.1 ppg). He earned All-Big Eight honors on and off the field as a senior in 1984, while helping the Huskers rank third with 311.1 rushing yards and 12th nationally with 427.5 total yards per game. Nebraska’s 32.6 points per game ranked sixth in the country. He started every game as a senior despite battling an ankle injury and competed in the 1985 Senior Bowl. Behning went on to spend three seasons in the NFL with the Pittsburgh Steelers after being drafted in the second round.
- Greg Jorgensen — A three-year starter at offensive guard for Tom Osborne’s early Nebraska teams in 1975, 1976 and 1977, Jorgensen was a second-team All-American by the Football News as a senior and was a two-time honorable-mention All-American and a two-time All-Big Eight selection in his final two seasons for the Huskers in 1976 and 1977. The Minden, Nebraska, native was a 10th round draft pick by the New York Giants in 1978.
- University of Nebraska at Kearney wide receiver Richie Ross — A two-time All-American, Ross broke UNK records all over the board with 279 receptions for 4,882 yards and 50 touchdowns from 2002 to 2005. The four-time Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference selection’s record-setting efforts throughout his UNK career included a 317-yard receiving game against Fort Hays State as a sophomore in 2003, when he was named the RMAC Offensive Player of the Year. The Lincoln High graduate also earned a spot in the NFL with the Tennessee Titans.
- Former Chadron State coach and athletic director Brad Smith — The 36th coach and the first since 2012 to be inducted into the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame, Smith spent 18 seasons (1987-2004) as Chadron State’s head coach and was a three-time RMAC Coach of the Year (1996, 1999, 2001). He led Chadron State to a 10-0 regular season and a final No. 7 AFCA national ranking in 2001. His 2002 and 2003 teams also finished in the AFCA Top 25, while his 1996, 1998, 2000 and 2001 teams all advanced to the NCAA Division II playoffs. His 1989 and 1990 teams advanced to the NAIA Division II playoffs and finished in the top 10.