NEW YORK - When Doug Flutie, then a high school senior, told an Ohio State assistant he couldn't dunk a basketball, the coach told him he wasn't a Division I quarterback.
When Michigan's Bo Schembechler saw Reggie Williams play, he told the linebacker he wasn't good enough to play for the Wolverines.
The Boston College and Dartmouth stars won a sort of vindication yesterday, when, during a ceremony at the Waldorf-Astoria, they heard their names revealed among the 12 players and two coaches - including Penn State's Joe Paterno - selected to the National Football Foundation's College Football Hall of Fame Class of 2007.
Flutie, the 1984 Heisman Trophy winner, will forever be recalled for the Hail Mary pass he threw to Archbishop Carroll's Gerard Phelan that beat top-ranked Miami.
Ahmad Rashad was the only other 2007 inductee present. He was asked whether, like Flutie and Williams, he'd ever been told he couldn't play big-time college football.
"No," said Rashad, the NBC broadcaster who was an all-American running back and wideout at Oregon. "And I wouldn't have believed it even if I had."
In addition to Flutie, Rashad and Williams, who went on to two Super Bowls as a Cincinnati Bengals defender, those who will be inducted Dec. 4 are:
Oklahoma center Tom Brahaney, a star on the Sooners' offensive juggernauts of the early 1970s.
Michigan defensive back Dave Brown, a two-time all-American whose Wolverines teams went 30-2-1 in his career.
Jeff Davis, the first Clemson linebacker to earn first-team all-American status, in 1981.
Texas cornerback Johnnie Johnson, a fierce hitter in the 1970s and still the Longhorns' all-time punt-return leader.
Quarterback Rex Kern, who led Ohio State to the 1968 national championship.
Indiana tailback Anthony Thompson, who ran for an astounding 5,299 yards as a Hoosier in the 1980s.
Houston defensive tackle Wilson Whitley, who helped limit Earl Campbell to a career low of 24 yards in the Cougars' 30-0 rout of Texas.
Southern Cal linebacker Richard Wood, a future Tampa Bay star and the 27th Trojan in the college Hall of Fame.
Notre Dame defensive tackle Chris Zorich, the Lombardi Award winner in 1990.
In addition to Paterno, Central Michigan's Herb Deromedi, the winningest coach in Mid-American Conference history, was named to the Hall, in South Bend, Ind.
Paterno had been selected to the Hall a year ago, but the serious leg injury he suffered last fall prevented him from attending the 2006 ceremony.
The official induction event will take place in New York in December, but the ceremony at the South Bend facility will not be held until July 19-21, 2008.
Those chosen yesterday were from NCAA Division I-A schools. Several players and coaches from smaller schools, including former Cheyney coach Billy Joe, were named earlier.