Schmidt, a 1973 All-America defensive back at Ball State, set a single-season school record with 13 interceptions and was team MVP as a senior. He played in the Coaches’ All-American Game and the East-West Shrine Game. He went on to play 11 seasons in the NFL with the New Orleans Saints and Chicago Bears.
More than 12,000 NFF members and current Hall of Famers will select the class with voting to run through July 7.
NFF Chairman Archie Manning, a 1989 Hall of Fame inductee from Mississippi, said in a statement, “There is no group more knowledgeable or passionate about college football than our membership, and the tradition of the ballot helps us engage them in the lofty responsibility of selecting those who have reached the pinnacle of achievement in our sport.”
Three Tennessee players are among the nominees.
They include Al Wilson, a first-team All-America linebacker who led the Vols to the inaugural BCS championship in 1998, and Bobby Majors, a defensive back and punt returner who set Southeastern Conference and school records with 10 interceptions in 1971. He set the Tennessee career record for punt return yardage.
Willie Gault, a 1982 All-America wide receiver and returner, led the Vols to three bowl berths. He set six SEC and 12 school punt and kickoff return records and tied the NCAA record with three kick returns for a touchdown in a single-season in 1980.
Virginia Tech defensive lineman Corey Moore, a two-time All-American and winner of the 1999 Lombardi and Nagurski awards, is also on the ballot. The two-time Big East Conference defensive player of the year led the Hokies to the 1999 national championship game.
Other nominees include Southern California quarterback Carson Palmer, the 2002 Heisman Trophy winner, and recent Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees Tony Gonzalez and Ray Lewis.
Bob Stoops of Oklahoma and Gary Pinkel of Missouri headline the list of coaches nominated.