Former Illinois State two-sport star Mike Prior ’85 was one of six inductees honored Friday morning at the 2020 Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) Hall of Fame ceremony held March 6 at Stifel Theatre in downtown St. Louis.
Joining Prior in the 23rd MVC Hall of Fame class was baseball student-athlete Bill Mueller (Missouri State); four-time NCAA track and field pole vault champion Kylie Hutson (Indiana State); coaching legends Richard “Itchy” Jones (Southern Illinois baseball) and Phog Allen (Kansas basketball); and basketball star Larry Humes (Evansville).
Prior is the 14th Illinois State representative in the MVC Hall of Fame, joining Kenneth “Buzz” Shaw (1998), Doug Collins (1998), Cathy Boswell (2003), Will Robinson (2003), Jill Hutchison (2008), John Coughlan (2009), Linda Herman (2014), D.A. Weibring (2015), Dave Bergman (2016), Sue Daggett Miller (2016), Charlotte Lewis (2017), Christian Goy (2018) and Kristi Cirone (2019).
Prior was a dual-sport standout for the Redbirds from 1981–1985, lettering three years in baseball and four times in football as one of the best all-around athletes in school history. A three-time Division I-AA (now FCS) All-American defensive back and a three-time first-team All-Missouri Valley Football Conference defensive back, Prior holds the Illinois State University career record for interceptions (23) and is tied for second with three interceptions in a game. He also ranks second in the Illinois State record books with three career punt return touchdowns.
The Chicago Heights native finished his collegiate career as Illinois State’s all-time leader in punt return yards (906 yards), a record that still stands. Prior recorded eight interceptions in two separate seasons, while earning the team MVP honor in both 1982 and 1984. His number 15 jersey is just one of three retired by the Redbird football program. On the diamond, Prior was a two-time All-MVC selection and still holds the Illinois State career records in batting average (.388) and slugging percentage (.715).
Prior is one of three student-athletes in school history to be drafted by two professional sport leagues, as he was selected in the fourth round of the MLB Draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers and the seventh round of the NFL Draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. His illustrious 13-year NFL career (Tampa Bay, Indianapolis, and Green Bay) is decorated with 691 tackles, 35 interceptions, seven forced fumbles, and a Super Bowl title. He participated in “The Big Game” twice with Green Bay, winning a ring for the Packers following a 35-21 win over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI.
Prior was inducted into the Illinois State Athletics Percy Family Hall of Fame in 1991 and the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame in 2008. He received the Contribution to Amateur Football Award presented by the National Football Foundation in 2014, and currently works for the Indianapolis Colts as the youth football commissioner in the marketing/community relations department.