Curt Warner has come a long way from the hills of West Virginia.
The former Penn State All-American running back joined elite company when he was inducted into the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame on Tuesday at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City.
"I'm just privileged and proud to be a part of the Penn State family," Warner said during the press conference.
"I too reflect back and think that, you know, a kid from the hills of West Virginia, the coal mining hills of West Virginia, would have an opportunity to be part of such a great class."
Some other people joining Warner's Hall-of-Fame class are Notre Dame Heisman winner Tim Brown, West Virginia quarterback Major Harris and former Syracuse coach Dick MacPherson.
Warner became the 17th Penn State player and 22nd member of the Nittany Lion program to get the honor. The running back, who now lives in Washington state, helped lead Penn State to its first national championship with a victory against Georgia in the Sugar Bowl after the 1982 regular season.
When it came to his single-game performances, Warner broke the century mark 18 times, with the Lions winning all those contests. He even totaled 341 yards all-purpose yards at Syracuse back in 1981.
"Any time he had the ball inside the 20-yard-line -- guaranteed he was going to score," MacPherson said at the press conference. "Third-and-1 he's down in the Carrier Dome on our 1. Here's Mr. Sweetheart over here. My linebacker sticks him like he's never been stuck before. Back on third-down-and-1, got one more down. He said, 'Nice tackle, kid. Don't go away, I'll be right back.' That's what he said."
Penn State historian Lou Prato saw the program's all-time leading rusher Monday night and said he admired how Warner was willing to sacrifice his numbers for the team. Without Warner, Prato said Penn State would not have won the national title.
"I think the best thing about Curt Warner is the fact, even the year he made All-American, that's the year Penn State passed more than they ran," Prato said.
Indeed, Warner earned All-American honors twice despite the presence of another Penn State great in quarterback Todd Blackledge, whom Warner gave a shout-out to at the press conference for his attendance.
The former Lion led the team in rushing three consecutive seasons and totaled 3,398 rushing yards. As for his NFL career, Warner ran for 6,844 yards and 56 touchdowns.
Today, Warner is a running backs coach for Camas High School and also owns an automobile dealership.
Athletic Director Tim Curley was once the Lions' football recruiting coordinator and helped recruit players on the national championship team. Not surprisingly, he quickly found out just how good Warner would turn out to be.
Curley recalls how coach Joe Paterno went down to watch Warner play a basketball game for Pineville High School in West Virginia.
"He scored 30-something points that night," Curley said. "The night we were there, he put on a show -- just tremendous athleticism and a great all-around athlete, not just a football athlete. He put on a great show for coach Paterno. We knew we had something special once he committed to us."