NORMAL, Ill. (WMBD.WYZZ) — It was an emotional Saturday night for Boomer Grigsby.

Back on Illinois State’s campus for the first time in years, he says he was just about brought to tears as he was recognized as the first Redbird player ever selected for induction into the College Football Hall of Fame.

It’s an accomplishment he never dreamed of 20 years ago when he was an ISU student-athlete.

“I just wanted to play,” Grigsby said of ISU career. “Then you want to start, then you want to be All-Conference, then you want to be All-American, and consensus All-American. I remember being a dreamer, but also being realistic.”

Grigsby reached all those goals and became the first player ever named Missouri Valley Football Conference defensive player of the year three times. Then the former Canton Little Giant was drafted and played in the NFL.

He credits his work ethic to his central Illinois roots.

“It was a great place to grow up. The community was good to me. They were a part of all this. If I wasn’t successful at the high school level, I wouldn’t have made it to the college level and so on,” Grigsby said. “I’m proud to be from Canton, proud to be from Fulton County, proud to be from central Illinois, proud to be from ISU. These were the foundations of my life.”

In December, the former three-time All-American will be formally honored at the Hall of Fame dinner in Las Vegas. It will be a short commute as Grigsby, a father of four, now lives in Vegas.

But his biggest issue may be figuring out when he’s going to wear.

“I have no reference to this kind of event,” said Grigsby. “I don’t know when the last time I was at a black tie event but it’s not been very often coming from the humble toots of Canton, Illinois where there’s not a lot of black tie events.”