KINGSTON, Ont. - All week long, Queen's football has been announcing the 2021 Hall of Fame Class on social media. The group, which features 10 players and four teams, will all be honoured at the annual Gael Force Initiative, which this year will be a virtual event on Saturday, May 8.
This year's class includes 10 players being inducted, Jimmy Allin, Scott Bissessar, Matt O'Donnell, Rob Bagg, Thaine Carter, Curtis McLellan, Danny Brannagan, Mike Giffin, Brad Smith and Scott Valberg.
Also inducted are four teams, the 2009 Vanier Cup Champions and 1922, 1923 and 1924 Grey Cup Champions.
For a full breakdown of the inductees, please see below:
Often referred to as "The Belleville Bullet," Allin was an integral part of the 2009 Vanier Cup Championship Team. A two-time All-Canadian in '08, '09, at both defensive back and as a returner, Allin went on to set 10 school records and tie the career interceptions mark with 16.
He was a three-time Academic All-Canadian, a three-time Bob Howes Special Teams Player of Year, was the '09 Lou Bruce Defensive Player of the Year, and the recipient of the prestigious Jenkins Trophy for the Queen's Male Athlete of the Year in '08.
He will always be remembered for his 120-yard missed field-goal return touchdown against Laval in the 2009 Mitchell Bowl with a sold-out Richardson Stadium watching him score his fifth return touchdown of the season.
Bissessar was a multi-sport athlete known for his speed. He was the go-to receiver in an impressive run of teams in the early '80s, as well as being an accomplished track athlete.
Although the offence was built to be more of a running attack, Bissessar still made his impact. He won the Royal Todd for Rookie of the Year '81 and set the single-season (' 81) and career TD receptions record when he graduated in '84. He still ranks in the top 10 in multiple other statistical categories.
Still, he is always remembered for his game-winning touchdown catch in the '84 OQIFC final with 20 seconds left to beat Bishops, his second score of the game, and his third conference championship title of his career. He made one Vanier Cup Appearance in '83 and was drafted 29th overall by the Calgary Stampeders in 1985.
O'Donnell made an impact the moment he arrived in 2007. The 6'10 tackle used his size and strength to help solidify a dominant offensive line for Queen's.
He was a crucial part in blocking for the OUA leading rusher in '07 and '08 and protecting quarterback Danny Brannagan on their way to the Vanier Cup Championship in '09. He was a two-time first-team All-Canadian ('09, '10), two-time Orrin Carson recipient for the team's Offensive Lineman of the Year in '09, '10, as well as the OUA Metras Trophy recipient for the conference's Most Outstanding Lineman in '10.
O'Donnell was invited to the NCAA East-West Shrine Game in 2011, prior to the CFL National Evaluation Camp and spent two years with the Cincinnati Bengals in the NFL before starting a long CFL career with Edmonton, winning a Grey Cup in '15.
A two-time team captain in '06 and '07, Bagg was greatly admired and respected by his teammates for his work ethic and grit. An incredible route runner with great hands, he was a threat that could take over a game at any moment as a receiver and returner.
Bagg broke the school record in '06 for most receptions in a season, as well as the most all-purpose yards in a season, highlighted with a record-tying 104-yard TD reception. That year, he won both the Doug Hargreaves Trophy for the Offensive Player of the Year and the Johnny Evans Trophy for the team's Most Valuable Player.
In '07, he was a 2nd team All-Canadian, led the Gaels in receptions and receiving yards, and once again showed his game-breaking ability with a 341 receiving yard performance against long-time rival Toronto. Bagg went on to sign with the Saskatchewan Roughriders in '08 and played 11 seasons with them, winning a Grey Cup in '13.
One of the most feared tacklers in the country, Carter was an instinctual linebacker who always seemed to be around the ball.
Two years in a row, he led the Gaels and the OUA in defensive tackles ('07, '08), was an OUA All-Star ('07, '08) and won the Lou Bruce Award as the team's defensive player of the year ('07, '08).
In 2008 Carter co-captained the Gaels to an undefeated 8-0 season. He was a first-team All-Canadian and became the only Queen's player to ever win the CIS Presidents Trophy as the country's Defensive Player of the Year.
Voted team captain in his last two seasons for the Gaels ('02,' 03), McLellan was a defensive leader on a dominant defence that propelled the Gaels to a Yates Cup appearance in '02 and a 7-1 season in '03.
He was a second-team OUA All-star in '02 and a first-team All-Star in '03. In '03, he won the Lou Bruce trophy for defensive player of the year & the Bill-Miklas award for outstanding academics & community service for the Queen's Football Team.
He was also a four-time Academic All-Canadian and was the CIS Russ Jackson award winner in '03. McLellan set the school record in '03 for most tackles in a career with 109 and ranks in the top 10 in many other defensive statistics.
A co-captain of the undefeated '08 team and the '09 Vanier Cup championship team, Brannagan left his mark as one of the greatest passers in the history of Canadian University Football. His calm and unwavering demeanour in the pocket allowed him to break six school records, including career passing yards (10,714) and touchdowns (77).
In '05, he was awarded the Royal Todd, Alfie Pierce and Norm Marshall awards as the Queen's Football, Queen's Varsity Athletics, and OUA Conference Rookie of the Year. He went on to become an All-Canadian in '08, win five team awards and the '09 Outstanding Performance of the Year Award for Queen's.
His leadership and outstanding play in '09 allowed the Gaels to capture their first national title since '92. Brannagan capped off his Queen's career, winning the Yates Cup and Vanier Cup MVP awards.
Giffin was a dominant runner who had both the size and skill set to be elite. A two-time All-Canadian in '07, '08, he was the first Gael to ever rush for over 1000 yards in a single season and led the OUA in rushing yards in both '07 and '08.
He won many team awards, including the Johnny Evans trophy for team MVP twice ('07, '08), the Jim Tait Award for Queen's Sportsmanship and Leadership in '07, and the OUA Hec Crighton winner as the Most Outstanding Player in '08.
Giffin set 10 school records throughout his career, including most consecutive 100-yard rushing games with 13, most rushing yards in a career with 3,035 and most touchdowns in a career with 34. He went on to have a five-year stint in the CFL, winning two Grey Cups with the Montreal Alouettes in '09 and '10.
Smith made an immediate impact at the start of his Gaels career. He was named a 1st team All-Canadian in his rookie season ('02) and captured the Queen's Football Royal-Todd award and the Alfie Pierce trophy for the Queen's Most Outstanding Rookie.
Over his career, Smith set the record for most receiving touchdowns in a career (23) and was a leader over multiple categories during his time at Queen's.
He capped off his final season at Queen's by being name 1st team All-Canadian in '06 and winning the Jim Tait Award. He went on to be drafted by the Toronto Argonauts in 2007.
Valberg was a fierce competitor that worked relentlessly to perfect his craft. He was known for his excellent route-running ability and was a crucial weapon in the Gaels '09 Vanier Cup Championship run. He led the country twice in receiving yards ('08, '09) as well as receiving touchdowns in '08 and receptions in '09.
Valberg was a two-time All-Canadian ('08, '09), a Hal McCarney award winner for Most Dedicated Player in '08, Doug Hargreaves Award winner as Offensive Player of the Year in '09 and won the Jim Tait Award for Queen's Sportsmanship and Leadership in '09.
He always seemed to have his best games in the most significant moments, catching two touchdowns in both the Yates Cup and Vanier Cup. He finished his career second in career receiving yards (2,917), second in receptions in a career (152), and second in receiving touchdowns in a career (21) at Queen's.
2009 Vanier Cup Championship Team
The 2009 Vanier Cup Championship has often been described as a "Victory for the Ages." Coming off a disappointing '08 season where the undefeated Gaels took an early playoff exit, it was clear the '09 team vowed to be different.
Led by head coach Pat Sheahan, the team tended to find itself in close games but with a knack for coming out with the win in the end. They finished with a 7-1 regular-season record, 11-1 overall, six of those games being decided by four points or less.
They defeated No.5 Western 43-39 in the Yates Cup, then the defending National Champions No.1 Laval 33-30 in the Mitchell Bowl, followed by an impressive come from behind 33-31 victory over No.2 Calgary in the Vanier Cup. With the Gaels facing a deficit of 25-7 at halftime, the comeback remains the largest in Vanier Cup history.
1922, 1923, 1924 Grey Cup Championship Teams
The three-time Grey Cup champions at Queen's were a team that went essentially unchanged in personnel over these three seasons (and a fourth in 1925 where they narrowly missed a chance at another Grey Cup Victory).
Players like Batstone, Leadlay, Evans, Campbell and a group of others (many of whom are already in the Queen's Football Hall of Fame) came together to compile a record of 18-1. The team had two back-to-back undefeated seasons (matched only once by the 1963 – 1964 teams), won three intercollegiate championships and three Grey Cups.
Arguably the greatest Queen's teams ever, they are worthy of a prominent place in the Queen's Football Hall of Fame.
All inductees will be honoured at this year's Gaels Force Initiative Virtual Event. To learn more, click here. Be sure to check out the items at this year's online auction, learn more here.
Queen's University Football Hall of Fame officially opened its doors at the first Induction Ceremony in September 1983. The Hall of Fame recognizes the extraordinary contributions of players, coaches and builders to the success of Queen's Football through more than a century of glorious competition. Induction ceremonies were held in 1983, 1987, 1991, 1995, 2000, 2005, 2010 and 2015. Learn more about the previous inductees here.