Rutgers Athletics announced the 2020 Hall of Fame class on Monday that included five athletes across five sports spread over five decades.
“We are honored to induct another illustrious class into the Rutgers Athletics Hall of Fame,” said Director of Athletics Pat Hobbs. “This group personifies the ideals of a Scarlet Knight, setting standards of excellence in and out of competition. Their athletic achievements are etched in the record books and their storied careers continue to inspire. We look forward to celebrating their accomplishments.”
Eric LeGrand headlines the class after becoming one of the most prominently known Rutgers alums in school history. His journey since becoming paralyzed in 2010 has brought hope and inspiration to people across the world. On the gridiron, LeGrand played as a true freshman and became a leader of the defense before his injury. He is the only football player to have his number retired in program history. LeGrand has become a tremendous ambassador for Rutgers University through his display of courage, grace and determination. He won the Jimmy V Award for Preserverance at the ESPY Awards, has raised over $1 million dollars through his Team LeGrand, which is part of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, while also becoming a sought after motivational speaker. He also played a significant role in speaking publicly in support of Greg Schiano during the most recent coaching search for Rutgers football, which ultimately ended in LeGrand and his former coach being reunited on the banks.
Essence Carson is one of the best women’s basketball players in Rutgers history, earning All-American status and leading the program to the 2007 national championship game. She was named the Big East Defensive Player of the Year three consecutive times and finished her college career with 1,262 points and 707 rebounds. When Rutgers played at their pinnacle on the defensive end during C. Vivian Stringer’s long tenure, Carson was the catalyst. She is in her 13th season in the WNBA after being a former First Round draft pick and won the WNBA title with the LA Sparks in 2016.
Alexis Gunzelman is a Rutgers Gymnastics legend, having begun her career in 2011 as a walk-on before becoming the the only all-around national qualifier in program history. She was also a three-time NCAA Regional qualifier and three-time Team MVP, as she still holds multiple program records.
Jonelle Filigno-Hopkins produced 17 game winning goals for the women’s soccer team during her career, the most in program history. She is tied for the most single season goals with 15 and is fourth all-time at Rutgers with goals (33) and points (79). Filigno-Hopkins helped the Scarlet Knights earn four consecutive NCAA appearances and won an Olympic Bronze Medal for Canada in 2012 after scoring the game winning goal to advance to the semifinals.
James Ford was the first African American to become a captain, as well first African American to earn All-American honors for Rutgers men’s lacrosse, which he did in three of his four seasons during his career on the banks. He is the program’s all-time assists leader with 131 and is fourth all-time in career points with 201.
No details were released as to when the ceremony will take place. To read complete bio’s on the five inductees of the 2020 Rutgers Hall of Fame class, click here.