Honors & Awards

  • 1972 Heisman Trophy Winner
  • 1972 Walter Camp Award Winner

Johnny Rodgers, the 1972 Heisman Trophy winner, came to the University of Nebraska from Omaha Tech and became one of the most exciting players to ever play for the Huskers.

Earning All-Big Eight honors as a sophomore slotback and wide receiver in 1970, Rodgers blossomed as a national star in 1971 to help lead Nebraska to its second consecutive national championship.

It was Rodgers' sensational 72-yard punt return for the first touchdown that ignited the Huskers' thrilling 35-31 victory over Oklahoma in the "Game of the Century" in 1971. His 77-yard punt return touchdown against Alabama helped trigger the 38-6 Orange Bowl victory that sewed up Nebraska's second national title.

Capping a tremendous career with a fantastic final performance, Rodgers devastated Notre Dame in the 1973 Orange Bowl. In the most sensational finale ever for a Heisman winner, Rodgers moved into the I-back spot and blitzed the Irish with four touchdowns, runs of eight, four and five yards, and a 50-yard pass from quarterback Dave Humm. Rodgers passed for another, a 52-yard strike to Frosty Anderson. Rodgers' point total set an Orange Bowl record.

The top pass receiver and kick return man in Big Eight history, Rodgers owns 41 school records, seven conference records and four NCAA records. He was named ABC-Chevrolet Offensive Player of the Year in 1972 and received a $5,000 scholarship. Few players in NCAA history have shown Rodgers' versatility. During his three-year career, in which Nebraska posted a 32-2-2 record, Rodgers gained a then-NCAA-record 5,487 all-purpose yards with a total of 6,059 including bowl games. His 13.8 career average was a national record for yards per touch. Rodgers was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame on Dec. 14, 2000, in New York.

More recently, Rodgers was one of six Huskers named to Sports Illustrated's 85-player All-Century Team, joining Mike Rozier, Rich Glover, Dean Steinkuhler, Tommie Frazier and Aaron Taylor.

Rodgers, who still holds NCAA records for punt return touchdowns in a career (seven) and most career kick return touchdowns (nine), ranks as Nebraska's all-time leading pass receiver with 143 catches for 2,479 yards, and ranks fifth in points with 264 on 44 touchdowns in his career. In all, he currently holds or shares 41 school records, including most career all-purpose yards (5,586), most touchdown receptions in a season (11) and career (25) and most receiving yards in a career (2,479).

Rodgers lives in Omaha and is involved in community and public relations, including the Husker Heisman weekend and his company, Jetwear.

Career Punt/Kick Return Statistics

Year PR Yds Avg. TDs KOR Yds. Avg. TDs
1970 26 349 13.4 2 17 359 21.1 0
1971 33 548 16.6 3 10 304 30.4 1
1972 39 618 15.8 2 8 184 23.0 0
Total 98 1,515 15.5 7 8 847 24.2 1

Career Rushing/Receiving Statistics

Year Att. Net Avg. TDs Rec. Yds. Avg. TDs
1970 36 219 6.1 2 35 665 19.0 7
1971 36 259 7.2 2 53 872 16.5 11
1972 58 267 4.6 7 55 942 17.1 7
Total 130 745 5.7 11 143 2,479 17.3 25