Eight of the greatest athletes to come through the University of Colorado, as well as a legendary coach, will be inducted into the University of Colorado Athletic Hall of Fame in November.
On Monday, CU announced the 2021 class, which represents eight different sports: football players Chris Brown, Chris Naeole and Mickey Pruitt; men’s basketball player Donnie Boyce; women’s soccer player Nikki Marshall; track/cross country runner Dathan Ritzenhein; men’s gymnast Jack Ryan; four-sport athlete Lee Willard; and recently retired ski coach Richard Rokos.
Final details of the Hall of Fame ceremony have not been determined, but it take place between Nov. 4 and Nov. 6. The class will be introduced at halftime of the CU-Oregon State football game on Nov. 6 at Folsom Field.
Boyce, who played at CU from 1991-95, ranks third in Buffs’ men’s basketball history in scoring (1,995 points) — a broken leg just 13 minutes into his final game ending his career and his quest for 2,000. Boyce was a two-time first-team All-Big Eight selection and earned second-team honors as a senior.
Brown played just two seasons (2001-02) for the CU football team, but was one of the best running backs in program history. As a junior in 2002, he was a first-team All-American and runner-up for the Doak Walker Award, presented to the country’s best running back. He ranks seventh at CU in career rushing yards (2,690) and still holds the record for most touchdowns in a game, with six in a 62-36 win against Nebraska in 2001.
In the 25-year history of the women’s soccer program, no player has been as decorated as Marshall, a graduate of Longmont’s Skyline High School. Just the second women’s soccer player in the CU hall of fame — along with Fran Munnelly in 2016 — Marshall, who played for the Buffs from 2006-09, still holds 20 school records, including career goals (42). She was a four-time first-team all-conference selection.
Naeole was a dominant offensive lineman for the Buffs from 1993-96. A first-team All-American in 1996, he was also a two-time, first-team all-conference selection. He had a school-record 58 pancake blocks as a senior and was a four-year letterman.
Only seven players in CU football history have received first-team all-conference honors three times, and Pruitt is one. He was first-team All-Big Eight in 1985, 1986 and 1987. One of the first stars under Bill McCartney, Pruitt (1984-87) was a second-team All-American as a senior and a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award.
Among the top American distance runners in the past two decades, Ritzenhein (2001-04 at CU), turned pro after his junior season with the Buffs. At CU, he won a national title in cross country in 2003 and was a six-time national champion: twice in cross country, four times in track and field. A three-time U.S. Olympian (2004, 2008, 2012), he still holds some CU records and is currently coaching with the Buffs.
This past winter, Rokos wrapped up his 31st year as the head coach of the Buffs’ ski team — and 34th year overall with the program. From 1988-2021 he guided the Buffs, winning eight national championships. His teams also posted nine runner-up finishes and six third-place finishes. Under his watch, CU had 46 individual national champions and 247 All-Americans. CU won three more individual titles this year, giving Rokos 100 total by the athletes he coached.
Ryan starred in men’s gymnastics from 1966-68 and helped the Buffs to their only Big Eight championship in 1968. That year, the Buffs also had their best finish (sixth) in the NCAA championships. Ryan won CU’s only individual title in men’s gymnastics, taking first in the pommel horse with a score of 9.6.
Willard, the only member of the class being honored posthumously, was one of CU’s first star athletes, competing for the Buffs from 1918-22. He played football, basketball, baseball and ran track at CU. In all, he earned 16 varsity letters and 10 first-team All-Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference honors. He was a captain for at least one season in all four sports. He was a three-time All-RMAC performer in football; led the RMAC in scoring twice in basketball; and was CU’s leading hitter in baseball three times. He also won multiple conference titles in track and field.
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