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Former Bronco Al Wilson elected to College Football Hall of Fame

The five-time Pro Bowl middle linebacker for Denver helped the Tennessee Volunteers win the 1998 National Championship.

Credit: AP Photo/Mark Humphrey

Former NFL player Al Wilson announces that the Denver Broncos selected Missouri quarterback Drew Lock during the second round of the NFL football draft, Friday, April 26, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn.

ATLANTA — Al Wilson, a five-time Pro Bowl middle linebacker for the Broncos during the Mike Shanahan era, has been elected into the College Football Hall of Fame for his time with the Tennessee Volunteers.

Wilson, 43, capped his four-year career with Tennessee by serving as the defensive captain for the Vols’ undefeated 1998 National Championship team. Wilson was a consensus All-American that year. During his first three years with the Vols, one of Wilson’s Tennessee teammates was quarterback Peyton Manning.

Quarterback Peyton Manning of the University of Tennessee sets to throw a pass during the Volunteers 17-13 loss to the University of Alabama. Mandatory Credit: Rick Stewart/ALLSPORT

Three months after helping Tennessee defeat Florida State in the Fiesta Bowl for the national championship, Wilson was selected by the two-time defending Super Bowl-champion Broncos with the No. 31 and final first-round pick in the 1999 draft.

Wilson was an eight-year starting linebacker for the Broncos, making his first Pro Bowl in his third season of 2001 and final one in 2006, when his career was cut short by a neck injury. Highly popular among Broncos fans, Wilson had 21.5 sacks in his career – a high number for a middle linebacker.

Wilson sued a Broncos’ doctor for malpractice in 2011 but a Denver court ruled the doctor was not negligent. His five Pro Bowls are the most by any eligible Broncos player who has not been elected into the team’s Ring of Fame. Broncos’ public relations boss Patrick Smyth began trying to mend the team’s relationship with Wilson in 2018 by inviting him out to a practice and arranged to have him serve as an honorary captain for a December 2018 home game against the Cleveland Browns.

Wilson was one of 11 players who were elected into the College Hall of Fame, with the class featuring such other recognizable former stars as Carson Palmer, Tony Romo, Andre Tippett, Darren Sproles and C.J. Spiller.

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