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Back in the day, Dec. 5, 1972: Nebraska's Johnny Rodgers wins the Heisman Trophy

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1972: Nebraska's Johnny Rodgers wins Heisman Trophy

Johnny Rodgers speaks at the Heisman Trophy ceremony on Dec. 14, 1972, in New York. Rodgers beat out Oklahoma’s Gregg Pruitt and teammate Rich Glover in the voting. Rodgers, an all-purpose back for the Huskers, gained 5,586 yards and scored 45 touchdowns in his college career. The announcement of his Heisman win came 49 years ago today.  

 

In Wednesday's episode, Adam is joined by Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Rodgers to reflect on the Huskers' 2020 season, if Nebraska should have decided to play in a bowl game, Scott Frost's offense, Wan'Dale Robinson's multi-faceted role with NU and more.

Forty-nine years ago today, Johnny Rodgers, Nebraska's all-purpose back, won the Heisman Trophy, which honors the year's most-outstanding college football player.

Neill A. McAllister, president of the Downtown Athletic Club of New York, which sponsored the 38th annual award, made the announcement.

Rodgers, the first Nebraska player to win the prestigious award, received 1,310 points. Oklahoma running back Greg Pruitt was second with 966 points, followed by middle guard Rich Glover, Rodgers' Nebraska teammate, with 652.

Rodgers, a 21-year-old English major from Omaha, had faced questions about whether his youthful brushes with the law should affect his consideration as a Heisman candidate. His performance on the football field had to be overwhelmingly convincing to overcome those concerns about his character.

And it was. 

He averaged 13.8 yards every time he touched the ball as a runner, receiver or kick returner.

Rodgers, a dazzling performer, received 301 first-place votes to Pruitt's 117. Rodgers was the top vote-getter in all sections of the nation.

He led the Huskers to national championships in 1970 and 1971 and to an 8-2-1 record in 1972 that was good enough to put ninth-ranked Nebraska into the Orange Bowl against Notre Dame.

During an interview with The World-Herald after the Heisman win, Rodgers said: "When I got underneath a punt or ready to catch a pass, it helped me to know there were about 80,000 fans there to help me. I know I haven't pleased everybody, but I feel now that I have more friends than enemies. This award has help me change my outlook on a lot of things."


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