Entering the Hall: Gene Washington

It's time to look at the final former Big Ten player selected to the College Football Hall of Fame class of 2011 ...

Gene Washington, WR, Michigan State, 1964-66

Michigan State dominated college football in the mid-1960s, and Washington was a big part of the Spartans' success.

A native of LaPorte, Texas, Washington starred in high school but couldn't stay close to home as the top Texas programs didn't recruit black players at the time. Along with other Texas stars like Bubba Smith, Washington traveled north to Michigan State to play ball.

He earned first-team All-America and first-team All-Big Ten honors in both 1965 and 1966, as Michigan State claimed national titles in both seasons. Washington led the Spartans in receiving in each of the three seasons he played and finished his career with team records for receptions (102), receiving yards (1,857) and touchdown catches (16). A big-play threat who averaged 18.2 yards per catch in his career, Washington recorded six career 100-yard receiving performances.

Michigan State went 23-6-1 during Washington's career, including a 17-3 mark in Big Ten games.

Washington was drafted in the first round of the 1967 NFL draft (No. 8 overall). He played eight seasons in the NFL and made Pro Bowls in both 1969 and 1970. While playing for the Minnesota Vikings, Washington began working for 3M as a diversity recruiter and later started the company's first minority college recruiting program.

Michigan State inducted Washington into its athletic Hall of Fame in 1992. Washington becomes the first Spartans receiver elected to the College Football Hall of Fame.