Mills, the two-time All-America linebacker for the
then-Indians during the late 1970s, took his rightful place in the College
Football Hall of Fame during its Enshrinement Festival July 17-18 in
Mills’ son, Sam III (pictured in the middle above), accepted the induction award for his father, who passed away in April 2005 following a 20-month battle with cancer. Also in attendance were Mills’ wife Melanie, his son Marcus and two daughters Larissa and Sierra.
Also enshrined in the 2009 class were former UCLA
quarterback Troy Aikman, former Oklahoma State tailback Thurman Thomas, former
Florida linebacker Wilber Marshall, former Ohio State, Arizona State and Tulsa
coach John Cooper and Lou Holtz, who coached at Notre Dame, South Carolina,
Minnesota, Arkansas, North Carolina State and William & Mary. Former
Of the more than five million players who have played collegiate
football since its beginning in 1869, only 1,000 have been enshrined into the
Hall of Fame (.02 percent). Mills is the 25th player from a
Mills was a standout at Division III Montclair from 1977-80, being named captain his final two seasons and a Kodak All-American selection as a senior. His 501 career tackles set a school record, his 142 tackles as a sophomore set the school's single-season mark and his 22-tackle performance as a junior established a single-game record. He was a three-time defensive player of the year selection by the New Jersey Collegiate Football Writers Association.
Mills' No. 62 was retired by
Deemed "too small" to play linebacker in the pros, the 5'9" Mills went on to an outstanding career which began in the United States Football League (USFL) with the Philadelphia Stars. He then moved on to the National Football League (NFL) where he became an All-Pro with the New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers.
In 1997, Mills finished his
His 36-yard interception return for a touchdown versus the Jets in 1995
triggered the first victory in team history and was a turning point in the
team's record-setting inaugural season. The following year, his interception
He has also been elected to Halls of Fame for the Saints and the states of
Overall, Mills played 12 seasons in the NFL and recorded 1,319 tackles, 20.5 sacks, 11 interceptions and four touchdowns while starting 173 of 181 games. He played the first nine seasons of his career with the Saints and was a five-time Pro Bowl selection, making the trip as a Panther in 1996. He was also a three-time All-USFL selection and helped the Stars to league titles in 1983 and 1984.
After his playing career, Mills became an assistant coach with the Panthers
and was diagnosed with cancer in 2003. Still, Mills coached
In 2002, Mills was one of several players nominated to the Pro Football Hall
of Fame and the Panthers honored him with a statue that stands outside of Bank
of America Stadium in
Mills graduated from