SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) -Former Virginia Tech defensive tackle Bruce Smith was never prouder to be a Hokie than in April.
A memorial service for 32 people killed on campus by a gunman who also killed himself ended with a spontaneous school chant by students of ``Let's go, Hokies!''
``They were absolutely remarkable. They made me so proud to be an alumnus of Virginia Tech,'' Smith said. ``In the midst of crying I had my chest stuck out because I was so proud of being a part of the Virginia Tech family. I still get chills any time I talk about it.''
Smith gave many Hokie fans chills for the way he made big plays. He also sent chills through opposing quarterbacks fearful of being tackled by the 6-foot-3, 275-pound lineman. He is among 20 greats who will be enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame this weekend.
The Division I-A honorees were inducted by the National Football Foundation in New York in December and will be formally enshrined during a banquet Saturday.
Others being honored include Florida State coach Bobby Bowden, former Florida running back Emmitt Smith, Minnesota tackle Carl Eller and Heisman Trophy winners Charlie Ward of Florida State and Mike Rozier of Nebraska.
``It's an honor to be recognized as one of the greatest college players to ever put on the uniform. It's certainly a blessing,'' Smith said. ``It's just a remarkable class.''
Speed, quickness and strength were the tools Smith used to earn his way in. He won the Outland Trophy in 1984 as the nation's premier interior lineman. He had 46 career sacks, including 22 as a junior, and 71 career tackles for losses, totaling 504 yards lost.
The play he remembers most from his college days was a hit on West Virginia quarterback Jeff Hostetler.
``I broke through an offensive tackle and got a clean shot going full speed at Jeff Hostetler and hit him in the chest. I knew I nailed him. He took a second to get up. He got up and took a step and collapsed,'' Smith said, chuckling. ``They had to come and take him off the field. But he came back in the game a few plays later.''
Smith hopes the one thing people remember about him is ``he gave it his all on and off of the field.''
The first player taken in the 1985 NFL draft became the league's career sacks leader, was an 11-time Pro Bowler and was twice named The AP's top defensive player. He also was named to the NFL's 1980s and 1990s All-Decade teams.
Smith, who is now involved real estate development in Hampton Roads, Va., is eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2009. He said the only time he thinks about it is when others bring it up.
``I don't dwell on it,'' he said.
Smith is especially proud to be representing Virginia Tech at this time as it works to recover from the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
``I think the fact that I am being inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, I'm representing my university. We have nothing to be ashamed of. This is a proud university, a very strong university full of creative minds and wonderful people,'' he said. ``It has taken decades upon decades to build this university up to where it is today and we're not going to let one sick individual bring this university down.''
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