Honaker graduate Heath Miller has joined former University of Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning and defensive back Charles Woodson among 14 first-year eligible candidates for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Miller, who directed Honaker to the Group A, Division 2 state championship game in 2000, switched from quarterback and defensive back for the Tigers to tight end at the University of Virginia, earning the John Mackey Award as the nation’s best player at his position in 2004.
He spent 11 seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, retiring after the 2015 season. Miller was a two-time Pro Bowl selection and was part of two Super Bowl winning teams.
He finished his career with 592 receptions for 6,569 yards and 45 touchdowns.
Miller was selected to the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame last year.
Other first-year candidates includes receivers Calvin Johnson, Wes Welker and Roddy White; running back Steven Jackson; offensive linemen D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Logan Mankins; defensive linemen Jared Allen, Justin Tuck and Kevin Williams; linebacker Jerod Mayo; and defensive back Charles Tillman.
In all, there are 130 nominees for five modern-era spots. The roster of nominees consists of 65 offensive players, 49 defensive players and 16 special teams players.
The list will be reduced to 25 semifinalists in November and to 15 finalists in January. A maximum of five modern-era players will be chosen when the selection committee meets the Saturday before the Super Bowl in Tampa, Florida.
Eighteen finalists will be presented to the full 48-member panel: the 15 modern-era finalists, and the recently nominated Drew Pearson (senior); Bill Nunn (contributor); and Tom Flores (coach).
Enshrinement at the hall in Canton, Ohio, will take place next August, when members of the 2020 class and a special centennial class also will enter the football shrine.
The 2020 class could not be enshrined due to the coronavirus pandemic and will be honored next summer.
That class has players Steve Atwater, Isaac Bruce, Harold Carmichael, Jimbo Covert, Bobby Dillon, Cliff Harris, Winston Hill, Steve Hutchinson, Edgerrin James, Alex Karras, Troy Polamalu, Donnie Shell, Duke Slater, Mac Speedie and Ed Sprinkle; coaches Bill Cowher and Jimmy Johnson; and contributors Steve Sabol, Paul Tagliabue and George Young.
Returning finalists from last year are receivers Torry Holt and Reggie Wayne; offensive linemen Tony Boselli and Alan Faneca; defensive linemen Richard Seymour and Bryant Young; linebackers Sam Mills and Zach Thomas; and defensive backs John Lynch and LeRoy Butler.
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