Rashaan Salaam took his place among college football’s elite on Tuesday night.
During the annual National Football Foundation awards dinner at the Bellagio Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, Salaam became the latest Colorado Buffaloes’ legend to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
Salaam’s induction came almost exactly six years after he took his own life on Dec. 5, 2016, at the age of 42.
His mother, Khalada Salaam-Alaji, was on hand Tuesday to celebrate her son, who is the lone Heisman Trophy winner in CU history.
“It means a lot to all of us,” Salaam-Alaji said during the NFF press conference. “It’s so interesting that Rashaan has received so many accolades since he’s been gone. We had to really prepare ourselves to live without Rashaan being here, but he has received so many wonderful accolades and this really caps it all. I didn’t know anything about the College Hall of Fame and I was so surprised.
“I called my son and I said, ‘What are we going to do with all of this?’ He said, ‘Mama, let’s launch Rashaan’s foundation.’ … So, this gives us an opportunity launch a foundation in Rashaan’s name.”
Salaam-Alaji hopes the foundation will impact people in Salaam’s home city of San Diego, but also all over the country.
“It’s about yourself, how you feel about yourself, how you treat other people,” she said. “We want this to really spread some love and kindness in the programs that this foundation will support. Of course it’ll have a big athletic component to it because that’s probably the best thing that’s happening right now in this country is sports. So, this means a lot. It’s so surreal.”
Salaam had one of the greatest seasons in CU history in 1994, winning the Heisman after rushing for 2,055 yards and 24 touchdowns during the regular season. At the time, he was only the fourth player in college football history to reach 2,000 yards in a season. Salaam added 83 yards and three touchdowns in a Fiesta Bowl victory against Notre Dame. CU finished 11-1 and ranked No. 3 in the country that season.
The fifth unanimous All-American in CU history, Salaam won the Doak Walker Award and Walter Camp Trophy in 1994, as well.
Salaam is the ninth player in CU history to earn induction to the College Football Hall of Fame, along with legendary coach Bill McCartney.
Other Buffs to be inducted are: Byron White (class of 1952), Joe Romig (1984), Dick Anderson (1993), Bobby Anderson (2006), Alfred Williams (2010), John Wooten (2012), McCartney (2013), Herb Orvis (2016) and Michael Westbrook (2020).
The 2022 class was comprised of 18 players and three coaches, including former Denver Broncos and Georgia star Champ Bailey.
New CU head coach Deion “Coach Prime” Sanders landed his first commit since taking over the Buffs’ program on Sunday.
Jordan Hall, a 6-foot-8, 330-pound tackle from KIPP Columbus (Ohio) High School, had been committed to Sanders’ former team, Jackson State, until flipping to CU on Tuesday. Hall is rated a three-star recruit and he had 13 scholarship offers.
On Tuesday night, two players who committed to CU under the previous staff announced their de-commitments: receiver Edward Schultz (Mission Viego, Calif.) and safety Adrian Wilson (Keller, Texas.
Nine of the 20 players who committed to the previous staff have decommitted since Monday night. CU currently has 12 players committed for the 2023 class.
Six Buffs received some All-Pac-12 recognition in a vote by coaches. The All-Pac-12 team was released on Tuesday.
CU didn’t have anyone on the first or second teams, but had five receive honorable mention: linebacker Josh Chandler-Semedo; cornerback/returner Nikko Reed; offensive lineman Casey Roddick; tight end Brady Russell; and defensive lineman Jalen Sami.
In addition, receiver Jordyn Tyson received honorable mention for the freshman offensive player of the year award.
USC had the offensive player of the year (Caleb Williams) and defensive player of the year (Tuli Tuipulotu). Oregon State’s Damien Martinez was the freshman offensive player of the year and Utah’s Lander Barton was the freshman defensive player of the year.
Washington’s Kalen DeBoer and Oregon State’s Jonathan Smith were named co-coaches of the year.