Hanson named to College Football Hall of Fame
Former Washington State Football All-American kicker Jason Hanson was named to the 2020 College Football Hall of Fame Class, The National Football Foundation (NFF) & College Hall of Fame announced Wednesday.
Hanson becomes the second kicker inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, joining Georgia's Kevin Butler, who was named in 2001.
The 17 First Team All-America players and two standout coaches in the 2020 Class were selected from the national ballot of 76 players and five coaches from the Football Bowl Subdivision, the 101 players and 33 coaches from the divisional ranks and the NFF Veterans Committee candidates.
"It's kind of surreal to look back at what happened at Washington State and how much fun it was walking on there to now being in something so selective as the College Football Hall of Fame," said Hanson. "It's so special it's almost overwhelming, it's really cool."
Hanson becomes the fifth Cougar player and ninth Cougar overall to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. He joins players Glen "Turk" Edwards, Mel Hein, Rueben Mayes and Mike Utley, along with coaches William "Lone Star" Dietz, Forest Evashevski, Dennis Erickson and Orin "Babe Hollingbery.
The Spokane, Wash. native, Hanson was an All-American kicker and punter for the Cougars from 1988-91, earning The Sports News Freshman All-America first team honors as a kicker in 1988 after a record-breaking season in which he was responsible for 91 points. His two field goals helped the Cougars upset No. 1 UCLA in Pasadena as WSU finished the season with an Aloha Bowl victory over Houston and a No. 16 national ranking.
"Jason Hanson epitomizes all that is good in college athletics," said WSU Director of Athletics Pat Chun. "From walk-on to All-American to the NFL to now College Football Hall of Famer, Jason has earned this wonderful accomplishment. Congratulations to Jason and the Hanson Family. The Cougs look forward to celebrating his entrance into the College Football Hall of Fame."
Hanson elevated his numbers as a sophomore, connecting on 21 field goals, a WSU single-season record, as were his 99 total points for a kicker. He became WSU's first unanimous first-team All-American that season.
As a junior, he was named All-Pac-10 as both a punter and kicker and earned All-American honors as a punter that season. As a senior in 1991, he was named an All-American at both punter and kicker. Hanson finished his WSU career with 19 field goals of 50+ yards, including a Pac-10 record 62-yarder, the longest without use of a tee in NCAA Division I history, while also being selected for the Hula Bowl and East-West Shrine Game.
He was drafted by the Detroit Lions in the second round of the 1992 NFL draft and played 21 seasons with the Lions, earning Pro Bowl honors twice, second team All-Pro honors in 1997 and was a first team All-Pro selection in 1993. Upon his retirement, Hanson held the NFL record for career 50-yard kicks (52) and continues to be the fourth-leading scorer in NFL history with 2,150 points.
He was named to the Pac-12 All-Century Team and Detroit Lions 75th Season All-Time Team, as well as being inducted into the Lions Ring of Honor and WSU Athletics, State of Washington Sports and State of Michigan Sports Halls of Fame.
In 2018, Hanson was inducted into the CoSIDA Academic All-America Hall of Fame, becoming the first student-athlete in school history to receive the honor. A pre-med major while at WSU, Hanson was a three-time Academic All-American during his four years in Pullman.
He concluded his senior season by being named a National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete, one of only five in WSU history to receive the honor.
An active Christian speaker, Hanson has participated in Habitat for Humanity and helped establish Providence Youth Outreach in Pontiac, Michigan, which helps at-risk youth.