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May 7, 2013

Pace headed to Hall of Fame

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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Nearly two decades after he redefined the left tackle position at the college level, Orlando Pace is continuing to be recognized for his accomplishments.

On Tuesday it was revealed that Pace, along with 13 other inductees, had been selected to the 2013 College Football Hall of Fame Class by the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame. With his induction, the former Ohio State left tackle becomes the 24th Buckeye to be selected to the College Football Hall of Fame.

"Orlando Pace is not only the best offensive lineman I have ever coached, but he is the best I have ever seen," said John Cooper, who coached Pace at Ohio State during his three seasons in Columbus from 1994-96. "Every game was a highlight reel for him. We ran a lot of counter sweeps and a lot of screens, and on many of those plays Orlando had to be out in front of the ball carrier. And we had some pretty good ball carriers.

"I don't know how you could play the position any better than he did. He was just a fantastic football player. He was the best."

Pace's selection to the Hall of Fame is just the latest honor that the Sandusky, Ohio native has received as a result of both his storied college career and 13 seasons in the NFL.

A starter from the day that he arrived on campus in Columbus in 1994, Pace started all 38 games of his college career. During that time, the 6-foot-6, 330-pounder filled his trophy case by becoming the Big Ten's Freshman of the Year, the first ever sophomore to win the Lombardi Award, the first player to win the Lombardi Award twice, the Big Ten's Offensive Lineman of the Year in 1995 and 1996, and the conference's offensive player of the year in 1996.

Pace was also named a first-team All-American in 1995 and 1996 and won the Outland Trophy in 1996, the same year in which he finished fourth in voting for the Heisman Trophy. After foregoing his senior season of eligibility to enter the 1997 NFL Draft, Pace was selected first overall by the St. Louis Rams, who he spent 12 seasons playing for. During his professional career, Pace was selected to seven Pro Bowls, and helped lead the Rams to a win over the Tennessee Titans in Super Bowl XXXIV.

Nicknamed "Pancake" Pace for his propensity for knocking opponents to the ground, the Sandusky high school product reportedly did so 80 times during the junior season of his college career. He was also selected to NFL's All-Decade Team and Sports Illustrated's All-Century NCAA Football team.

Pace will officially be inducted into the Hall of Fame at the 56th NFF Annual Awards Dinner on December 10, 2013, at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City.



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