BLOOMINGTON — Staring down Chris Bisaillon in the red zone was a nightmare few Division III defensive backs survived.
An uncanny knack for getting open and hauling in touchdown passes made Bisaillon an All-American at Illinois Wesleyan and paved the way for Tuesday’s announcement that the former Titan has been selected to the National Football Foundation College Football Hall of Fame.
“I’m flabbergasted, humbled and flattered,” Bisaillon said. “It’s quite an honor. I was aware I was on the ballot previously, but I was really caught off guard I was able to be inducted. It’s a surprising event. I’m very excited about it.”
Bisaillon played at Wesleyan from 1989 to ’92 and set was then the NCAA record for career touchdown receptions with 55. He broke the mark set by Jerry Rice of Mississippi Valley State and received a congratulatory phone call from the receiver who would become a Pro Football Hall of Famer.
The College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin Offensive Player of the Year in 1991, Bisaillon set 11 Wesleyan records and three CCIW marks.
“It’s a great honor for Chris as an athlete and great recognition for Illinois Wesleyan,” said IWU coach Norm Eash, who recruited Bisaillon out of Herscher High School. “He was a very dominant Division III player in his career and was instrumental in propelling IWU football into national prominence.”
Also an accomplished kick returner, Bisaillon was particularly deadly on the fade pattern when the Titans neared the end zone.
“Chemistry on that play is absolutely critical,” said Bisaillon, who estimated 25 percent of his TDs came on fades. “It’s a really tough play to defend when you have that chemistry. If you don’t have that chemistry it’s a really risky pass to throw.”
He caught passes from Brad Forsyth his first two seasons at Wesleyan and Tom Monken the final two.
“Chris was a great teammate and a great guy. We started off clicking my first game and kept on going from there,” Monken said. “He will be the first to tell you he was not real big and just fast enough to get open. He had a knack for getting to the ball and making guys miss.
“Every time he touched it he truly felt he had a chance to take it to the end zone. He wanted to win and wanted to succeed.”
The 40-year-old Bisaillon pointed to strong offensive lines and running backs Maury Parker and Anthony Houston as other factors in Wesleyan compiling a 29-8-1 record in his tenure.
“It’s a lot easier to have success when you have talented individuals around you,” he said. “They made it so difficult for opposing teams to focus on our passing game when we had such a dynamic running game at the same time.”
Bisaillon finished his Titan career with 230 receptions for 3,125 yards, 1,067 kickoff return yards and 981 punt return yards.
A resident of Hinsdale, Bisaillon is managing partner for Bottleneck Management, a restaurant management company.
Bisaillon is part of the Hall of Fame’s Divisional Class, which includes players and coaches from all divisions other than the Bowl Subdivision.
He will be inducted during the Enshrinement Festival on July 20-21 in South Bend, Ind., along with Panhandle State running back Jim Holder, Elon tight end Richard McGeorge and Northern Arizona lineman Rex Mirich.