It got lost in the shuffle of the Red-White game, but the U announced the inductees to the 2017 Crimson Club Hall of Fame about a week ago. You can see all of the names below, but two big ones really stand out with Jordan Gross and Steve Smith Sr., both of whom were drafted and played for the Carolina Panthers in the NFL. Of course, these are two iconic names for Utah fans, and one of them should make it into the Pro Football Hall of Fame with Smith. Both of them helped the Panthers make it to Super Bowl XXXVIII in 2004.
For most of his career, Smith was considered one of the best receivers in the game, and was borderline unstoppable, especially for his size. It’s really incredible considering he was primarily a return guy at the U, but of course, Coach Mac’s teams weren’t offensive juggernauts. He has long been one of my all time favorites, and has always been supportive of the U, giving back to the school as well as repping the U whenever possible.
I can’t wait to see these guys back on campus to be honored, and make sure to check out the full list below.
SALT LAKE CITY – The University of Utah will enshrine five former Ute athletes and one dual honoree as a former coach and athlete into the Crimson Club Hall of Fame on Friday, Oct. 20 at Rice-Eccles Stadium & Tower. The group will also be honored at the Utah-Arizona State football game the following day. The 2017 Hall of Fame class includes Staci Burt (soccer), Kent Crawford (men’s tennis), Jo Evans (softball coach and player), Jordan Gross (football), Chris Shelton (baseball) and Steve Smith Sr. (football).
Staci Burt (Soccer)
Ranked second all-time at Utah in goals and third in assists, Staci Burt was a three-time first-team all-conference selection before playing three seasons with the Carolina Courage of the WUSA professional league. Her highest scoring season was 13 goals—including four game winners—as a junior. Her senior year, Burt earned NSCAA All-Region second team honors as she led the Utes to a share of their first Mountain West Conference title and a 13-7-1 overall record. Burt also represented the United States in international play, including a call-up to the U.S. National team for the 2001 Nike U.S. Women’s Cup.
Kent Crawford (Men’s Tennis)
A two-time first team All-American from 1976-77, Kent Crawford led the Utah men’s tennis team to a top 20 national ranking all four years of his career and the 1977 Western Athletic Conference title. His senior year, Crawford was the runner-up at the National Indoor Doubles Championship with Dave Sherbeck and earned a No. 8 seed at the NCAA Doubles Championship. Before joining the Utes, he was the No. 1 ranked junior men’s player in the Intermountain Region in 1972 and ‘73. He was a three-time Utah high school state champion and led Cottonwood High to three straight team titles from 1972-74.
Jo Evans (Softball Coach/Player)
Earning All-High Country Athletic Conference honors and leading the Utes to the 1982 NCAA College World Series as a player, Jo Evans returned to her alma mater as the head coach from 1990-96. Evans directed Utah to a 222-143 record and a pair of College World Series appearances in 1991 and ‘94. The Utes also won two Western Athletic Conference titles. Evans’ 1994 team set the school record with 51 wins, placed fifth in the CWS and was ranked No. 7 in the country. She has been the head coach at Texas A&M since 1997, winning over 1,100 games. Evans was inducted into the National Fastpitch Coaches’ Association Hall of Fame in 2015.
Jordan Gross (Football)
A finalist for the Outland Trophy and a Consensus All-American in 2002, offensive tackle Jordan Gross went on to become the No. 8 overall pick in the 2003 NFL Draft. Gross played for the Utes from 1999-2002 and was a part of two bowl championship squads, including the 1999 team that won the Mountain West Conference title. He is the only offensive lineman and one of seven Utes all-time to earn Consensus All-American honors at Utah. During his 11-year NFL career with the Carolina Panthers, Gross played in three Pro Bowls. He was named first-team All-Pro in 2008 as the Panthers advanced to the Super Bowl.
Chris Shelton (Baseball)
Chris Shelton joined the Utes following his playing days at Cottonwood High School and Salt Lake Community College and made school history by becoming the baseball program’s first-ever conference MVP in 2001. The catcher/first baseman was also named a second team All-American by Collegiate Baseball in his only season with the Utes, hitting .374 with 19 home runs and 66 RBI. Shelton was taken by Pittsburgh in the 33rd round of the 2001 Draft and made his major league debut with Detroit in 2004. He became one of four players in MLB history to hit nine home runs in the first 13 games of a season in 2006.
Steve Smith Sr. (Football)
A two-time All-Mountain West Conference selection at Utah, Steve Smith Sr. went on to become one of the best wide receivers in NFL history during a 16-year pro career. Smith led the Utes in receiving yards in both 1999 and 2000, totaling 78 catches for 1,603 yards and 12 touchdowns. He also set the school’s all-time record by averaging 20.55 yards per catch. Smith was taken in the third round of the 2001 NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers and played the last three years of his career with Baltimore before retiring in 2016. Smith is the 14th player in NFL history to amass 1,000 career receptions and ranks seventh in league history with 14,731 receiving yards.