He was fashionably late and dressed to the bones. Deion Sanders, the self-proclaimed “Prime Time,” stole the show, as he did throughout his college career at Florida State and the National Football League. He was a leader, never a follower, but most of all, he was one helluva football player.

Sanders was front and center at the 9 a.m. media conference hosted by the National Football Foundation (NFF) 54th annual Awards and Induction Ceremony. The NFF’s 54th annual Awards Dinner was held at the world-famous Waldorf Astoria in Midtown Manhattan. The 2011 NFF College Hall of Fame class, in addition to Sanders, included Carlos Alvarez, Doug English, Bill Enyart, Eddie George, Marty Lyons, Russell Maryland, Jake Scott, Will Shields, the late Sandy Stephens, Darryl Talley, Clendon Thomas, Rod Waldrop and Gene Washington and coaches Lloyd Carr (Michigan) and Fisher DeDeberry (Air Force).

Archie Manning, chairman of the NFF and the dad of the NFL’s Peyton and Eli, opened the event. “Each inductee should serve as an inspiration to all those in football,” he said. “We appreciate the great legacy these individuals have left in football and are proud of their accomplishments.”

Steve Hatchell, CEO of the NFF, noted, “We’re excited about this great class and all those being honored as national award winners.”

In addition to the inductees, special awards were presented to former West Point linebacker Andrew Rodriguez, who received the William V. Campbell Trophy. Former U.S. Secretary of Defense William Gates received the Gold Medal, the highest honor bestowed by the NFF. Said Gates, “I salute the real heroes of our nation today: the young people in the 18-25 age group who are fighting to preserve our freedom. They deserve our thanks every day.”