Honors & Awards

  • Drafted by the Arizona Cardinals (1999 - 4th Round, Pick #116)
  • Member of Three Nebraska National Championship Teams (1994, 1995, 1997)
  • National Football Foundation/College Hall of Fame Postgraduate Scholarship Winner ($18,000, 1 of 10 in Division I, 1998)
  • Burger King College Football Scholar-Athlete-of-the-Week (vs. Colorado, 1998 - $10,000 to NU)
  • Two-Time CoSIDA Academic All-District VII (1997, 1998)
  • Two-Time GTE/CoSIDA First-Team Academic All-American (1997, 1998)
  • Doak Walker Award Nominee (1998)
  • Guy Chamberlin Trophy (1998)
  • Senior Bowl (1998)
  • Co-Captain (1998)
  • Sports Illustrated All-Walk-On Team (1997)
  • Honorable-Mention All-Big 12 (Coaches, 1997)
  • Nebraska Nominee for Big 12 Offensive Player-of-the-Week Three Times (vs. Akron, Kansas and Oklahoma, 1997)
  • Two-Time Big 12 Fall Semester Academic Honor Roll (1996, 1997)
  • Phillips 66 Academic Honor Roll (1995)


One of the best fullbacks in Nebraska football history, Joel Makovicka embodied some of the richest traditions of the Cornhusker football program. A walk-on from the small town of Brainard, Neb., Makovicka followed his older brother, Jeff, to Nebraska to play in the Husker backfield. The older Makovicka brothers were followed later by Jordan and Justin Makovicka to NU, while their father John was inducted into the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame in 1996 after an NAIA All-America career at Nebraska-Kearney.

Joel Makovicka was a member of three national championship teams under Hall of Fame Coach Tom Osborne in his five seasons at Nebraska. Makovicka would appear in 45 games (starting 22 of them) throughout his Husker career and amassed 1,447 yards on 247 carries and 13 touchdowns. He also added one touchdown out of the backfield as he hauled in 12 receptions for 155 yards. Makovicka helped Nebraska combine for a 58-6 overall record, three conference crowns and a trio of national titles while earning four varsity letters in his five seasons in Lincoln.

Following his Nebraska career, Makovicka was chosen in the fourth round of the 1999 NFL Draft by the Arizona Cardinals. During his rookie campaign, he'd start 10 games at fullback. Makovicka would end his NFL career after four seasons with the Cardinals (1999 - 2002).

1998 (Senior)

As a senior co-captain, Makovicka added 11 starts in 12 regular-season games and rushed for 458 yards on 97 carries. His longest rush coming against Washington when he scampered for a 23-yard gain. He would also haul in four passes for 67 yards and recorded two tackles (one solo) on special teams. In the 1998 Holiday Bowl against Arizona, Makovicka rushed five times for 26 yards and caught one pass for 22 yards. He won Nebraska's prestigious Guy Chamberlin Trophy, before appearing in the Senior Bowl.

Off the field, Makovicka continued Nebraska's rich academic All-America tradition by claiming first-team CoSIDA Academic All-America honors for a second consecutive year. He'd also receive the prestigious National Football Foundation/College Hall of Fame Postgraduate Scholarship worth $18,000. He was a three-time first-team academic all-conference selection.

1997 (Junior)

Makovicka produced the best year of his Nebraska career while helping the Huskers to their third national championship in four seasons. He earned a spot on the Sports Illustrated All-Walk-On Team in 1997, while claiming first-team CoSIDA Academic All-America honors.

He took over the starting fullback duties with the graduation of Brian Schuster from the NU backfield. Makovicka produced the fourth-best rushing total in the nation by a fullback with 685 yards on 105 carries with nine touchdowns. His 6.5 yards per carry led all fullbacks in the country, while his nine scores were a Husker record for fullbacks. Makovicka added another NU fullback record with his three rushing touchdowns against Oklahoma, when he posted his second 100-yard rushing effort of the season with 101 yards in the win over the Sooners.

Makovicka rushed for 50 or more yards in each of the first three games, including a career-high 129 yards on 12 carries in a win over then-No. 2 Washington. His effort against the Huskies included a career-long 43-yard burst. He finished the season with seven games of 50 or more yards. Makovicka added two touchdowns against Kansas and Akron, while adding solo scores against Iowa State and Baylor. He also hauled in five passes for 60 yards, including a three-yard touchdown catch against Texas Tech. It was the first touchdown reception by a Nebraska fullback since Lance Lewis had a scoring grab against Iowa State in 1992. In the FedEx Orange Bowl against Tennessee, Makovicka was NU's second-leading rusher with 61 yards on nine carries.

1996 (Sophomore)

Makovicka was hampered by a nagging hamstring pull that caused him to sit out the Colorado State and Baylor games. He played in 10 games and earned a start against Kansas, when Brian Schuster was out with a shoulder strain. Makovicka rushed 23 times for 119 yards for a 5.2 yard-per-carry average. His best day came against Kansas, when he carried five times for a season-high 49 yards, including a season-long 23-yard sprint. He also caught three passes for 28 yards, including a season-long 17-yard grab against Missouri. He had two catches against the Tigers for 25 yards. Makovicka also had three tackles on special teams, and was on the receiving end of a successful two-point conversion pass from holder Jon Vedral against Iowa State. Makovicka carried four times for 12 yards in Nebraska's win over Virginia Tech in the 1996 Orange Bowl.

1995 (Freshman)

Makovicka earned his first varsity letter after playing in every game for the national champion Huskers in 1995. Makovicka backed up his brother, Jeff, and Brian Schuster at the fullback spot, carrying 22 times for 185 yards. Makovicka averaged 8.4 yards per carry and scored two touchdowns. He also notched a season-long 39-yard run against Oklahoma State. He had a season-best 55 yards on six carries in a season-opening win over OSU. He also had two carries for 31 yards and a touchdown against Iowa State, while adding four carries for 45 yards against Oklahoma. He added a 17-yard touchdown run against the Sooners. In the 1996 Fiesta Bowl win over Florida, Makovicka registered two carries for two yards and added three tackles on special teams, as Nebraska rolled to a 62-24 win over the Gators.

1994 (Redshirt)

A walk-on athlete, Makovicka redshirted in his first season at Nebraska while the Huskers claimed Tom Osborne his first national title.

East Butler High School

Makovicka was a two-way player for Coach Dave Struebing's eight-man football team at East Butler High School. Makovicka rushed for more than 3,500 yards in his career and set season and career tackle records as a linebacker. He earned all-area and all-state honors and was the school's player of the year his junior and senior seasons. Makovicka played in the 1994 Nebraska Shrine Game. He also lettered four times in basketball and twice in track and field.


The son of John and Connie Makovicka, Joel was born Oct. 6, 1975. His brother, Jeff, was the starting fullback on Nebraska's 1995 national championship team and was a four-year letterman from 1992 to 1995. Their father was a four-year letterman at Kearney State College from 1967 to 1970, earning NAIA All-America honors as a halfback in 1970. John was inducted into the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame in 1996. Joel's sister Jenny earned an NAIA national championship ring as a softball player at Nebraska-Kearney in 1990. The Makovicka's younger brothers, Justin and Jordan, also joined the Nebraska football tradition following their high school careers more than a decade after Jeff and Joel.

Joel was active in Ventures in Partnership and was part of the McCook Dedicated to Excellence Tour and the North Platte "School is Cool" Jam. He also spoke at numerous school assemblies in both Lincoln and Omaha during his Husker career.

Makovicka's Career Statistics

 Year G/S Att. Yds. Y/C Y/G TDs
 1994 Redshirted          
 1995 11/0 22 185 8.4 16.8 2
 1996 10/1 23 119 5.2 11.9 0
 1997 12/10 105 685 6.5 57.1 9
 1998 12/11 97 458 4.7 38.2 2
 Totals 45/22 247 1,447 5.9 32.2 13

Tackles: 1 UT, 2 AT, 3 TT in 1995; 2 UT, 1 AT, 3 TT in 1996; 1 UT, 0 AT, 1 TT in 1997; 1 UT, 1 AT, 2 TT in 1998
Receiving: 3-28-0 in 1996; 5-60-1 in 1997 (TD vs. Texas Tech), long of 21 vs. A&M; 4-67-0 in 1998

Bowl Stats

1996 Fiesta Bowl vs. Florida: Rushing 2-4; Tackles 0 UT, 3 AT, 3 TT
1996 Orange Bowl vs. Virginia Tech: Rushing 4-12; Tackles 1 UT, 0 AT, 1 TT
1998 Orange Bowl vs. Tennessee: Rushing 9-61
1998 Holiday Bowl vs. Arizona: Rushing 5-26; Receiving 1-22

Most Rushing Attempts: 13 (vs. Cal, 1998)
Most Rushing Yards: 129 (vs. Washington, 1997)
Longest Rush: 43 (vs. Washington, 1997)
Longest Reception: 25 (vs. Kansas, 1998)
Most TDs Rushing: 3 (vs. Oklahoma, 1997)
Longest TD Rush: 37 (vs. Oklahoma, 1997)
Number of 100-Yard Rushing Games: 2 (vs. Washington, vs. Oklahoma, 1997)
Number of Career Rushes of 25-plus yards: 5 (1 in 1995; 4 in 1997)
Number of Career Receptions of 25-plus yards: 1 (25 vs. Kansas, 1998)