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Johnny Rodgers        

Nicknamed "The Jet" for his rapid acceleration and speed on the field, Rodgers was voted high school athlete of the year.

Nicknamed "The Jet" for his rapid acceleration and speed on the field, Rodgers was voted high school athlete of the year. As a player with the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers, he served as a punt return specialist, pass receiver, and running back. Rodgers broke virtually every offensive team record, was twice named to the College Football All-America Team and won the Walter Camp Award and the Heisman Trophy in 1972 as the most outstanding player in United States college football. In his three years with the Cornhuskers, the versatile Rodgers established an all-purpose NCAA yardage record of 5,586.

In 1971, in what has become known as College football's "Game of the Century," Rodgers returned a punt 72 yards to score the first touchdown which set the tone for his team's 35-31 victory over the University of Oklahoma Sooners. ESPN describes Rodgers' performance as "unforgettable" and the College Football News says "He was the greatest kick returner in college football history." However, most observers consider his greatest single performance to be in the 1973 (post-1972 season) Orange Bowl when he led his team to a 40-6 victory over the University of Notre Dame. Rodgers ran for three touchdowns, caught a 50-yard pass for another touchdown, and threw a 54-yard touchdown pass to a teammate. He did all this before leaving the game with 21 minutes still to play.

Logo of the Nebraska athletic teams.

Although a 1973 first-round draft pick of the San Diego Chargers, Rodgers signed a lucrative contract to play for the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League where he earned "Rookie of the Year" honors. In his four years with the Alouettes, Rodgers won "Most Valuable Player" and "All-Pro" honors and helped lead his team to a Grey Cup championship. In 1977, he returned to the United States, signing with San Diego. Hamstring injuries kept him out of the game for most of his first NFL season and the following year a freak knee injury sustained during team practice ended his career.

In 2000, Johnny Rodgers was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. He was also voted the "Most Valuable Player" in the history of the Big Eight Conference. For the new millennium, he was voted the University of Nebraska's "Player of the Century" by Sports Illustrated. On the College Football News list of the 100 Greatest Players of All-Time, Johnny Rodgers was ranked #44.

Today, Rodgers is a businessman in Omaha, Nebraska where he operates a sports marketing company and bedding products manufacturing company. He also works with his alma mater to encourage athletes who dropped out of school to return and complete their educational training.

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