University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Johnny Rodgers helped the Huskers win the first two national titles in school history (1970 and 1971) before becoming the first Nebraska Heisman winner in 1972.

"The Jet"

Johnny Rodgers

WR | Senior | University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Johnny “The Jet” Rodgers helped the Huskers win the first two national titles in school history in 1970 and 1971, before becoming Nebraska’s first Heisman winner in 1972.

He is the first wide receiver to win the Heisman.

The 5-10, 180-pound Rodgers was born in Omaha, Neb., where he was an all-city and all-state player for Tech High. He signed with Nebraska and quickly made an impact player as a receiver, rusher and return man.

In 1970, Rodgers caught 39 passes for 710 yards and seven scores as Nebraska won the first of two-straight national titles. In 1971, Rodgers caught 57 passes for 956 yards to help the Huskers to another title. His 72-yard punt return a touchdown ignited the Huskers’ thrilling 35-31 victory over Oklahoma in the so-called Game of the Century in 1971.

As a senior, Rodgers piled up 1,978 all-purpose yards, with 54 catches for 919 yards, and scored 17 touchdowns as Nebraska went 8-2-1 and clinched a berth in the Orange Bowl. He won the Heisman, too, beating out Greg Pruitt of Oklahoma.

Rodgers owns Nebraska records for receptions (143) and receiving yardage (2,479) to go along with his 26 career touchdown catches. A two-time All-American as a wingback, Rodgers was one of the top punt returners in college football history, racing to 1,515 career punt return yards and seven regular-season touchdowns. He added 847 yards and one score as a kickoff returner, and 745 career rushing yards with 11 touchdowns.

After winning his Heisman Trophy, Rodgers put his all-around game on display in a 40-6 win over Notre Dame in the 1973 Orange Bowl. Rodgers had a hand in all five of Nebraska’s touchdowns against the Fighting Irish, rushing for three touchdowns, while adding one touchdown reception. He pitched in a 52-yard pass to Frosty Anderson for another score.

Rodgers played for the Montreal Alouettes where he was named “Rookie of the Year” in 1973 and was All-Pro in 1974, ’75, and ’76. He also had a career with the San Diego Chargers. Rodgers, the “Husker Player of the Century,” was elected to the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame in 1999.

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Heisman Voting Results

Number of electors: 1127 - Announced: December 5, 1972.

  Player Class Position School 1st2nd3rd Total Points
1Johnny RodgersSRWRNebraska3011511051310
2Greg PruittSRRBOklahoma177223169966
3Rich GloverSRDTNebraska99125105652
4Bert JonesSRQBLSU616146351
5Terry DavisSRQBAlabama625052338
6John HufnagelSRQBPenn State622850292
7George AmundsonSRRBIowa State413134219
8Otis ArmstrongSRRBPurdue442428208
9Don StrockSRQBVirginia Tech123342144
10Gary HuffSRQBFlorida State102430138

Three points are awarded for first place on a ballot, with two points for second place and one point for third place.

Heisman Voting By Region

At this time, Heisman voters are spread out across five regions.

South

  Player
1Johnny Rodgers
2Terry Davis
3Greg Pruitt
4Bert Jones
5Rich Glover

East

  Player
1Johnny Rodgers
2Greg Pruitt
3Roosevelt Leaks
4Rich Glover
5Don Strock

Midwest

  Player
1Johnny Rodgers
2Greg Pruitt
3John Cappelletti
4Rich Glover
5George Amundson

Southwest

  Player
1Johnny Rodgers
2Greg Pruitt
3Rich Glover
4Bert Jones
5Terry Davis

Far West

  Player
1Johnny Rodgers
2Greg Pruitt
3Rich Glover
4Tony Adams
5George Amundson

Statistics

Johnny Rodgers’ Heisman Year Statistics

Date Opponent Result Rec Yds Avg. TDs Rush Att Yds Avg TDs PR Yds Avg. TDs KOR Yds Avg. TDs Plays APY YPP Total TDs
9/9/72 at #15 UCLA L 17-20 3 63 21.00 0 7 43 6.14 1 4 75 18.75 0 0 0 0.00 0 14 184 13.1 1
9/16/72 Texas A&M W 37-7 2 56 28.00 0 6 35 5.83 0 4 94 23.50 0 0 0 0.00 0 12 185 15.4 0
9/23/72 at Army W 77-7 5 58 11.60 2 10 58 5.80 1 2 11 5.50 0 0 0 30.00 0 17 127 7.5 3
9/30/72 Minnesota W 49-0 7 127 18.14 0 7 33 4.71 1 5 104 20.80 1 1 26 26.00 0 20 290 14.5 2
10/14/72 Missouri W 62-0 5 89 17.80 1 4 13 3.25 0 4 79 19.75 0 1 18 18.00 0 14 199 14.2 1
10/21/72 at Kansas W 56-0 5 128 25.60 1 3 -2 -0.66 1 2 5 2.50 0 0 0 0.00 0 10 131 13.1 2
10/28/72 Oklahoma State W 34-0 7 124 17.71 1 3 26 8.66 1 7 16 2.28 0 0 0 0.00 0 17 166 9.8 2
11/4/72 at #14 Colorado W 33-10 4 79 19.75 1 5 -6 -1.20 1 5 144 28.80 0 2 49 24.50 0 16 266 16.6 2
11/11/72 at Iowa State T 23-23 8 90 11.25 2 4 37 9.25 0 2 1 0.50 0 1 28 28.00 0 15 155 10.3 2
11/18/72 Kansas State W 59-7 5 64 12.80 0 5 26 5.20 1 3 71 23.66 1 1 17 17.00 0 14 178 12.7 2
11/23/72 #2 Oklahoma L 14-17 3 41 13.66 0 4 5 1.25 0 1 7 7.00 0 2 46 23.00 0 10 99 9.9 0
Heisman Stats #9 in both polls 8-2-1 54 919 17.01 8 58 268 4.62 7 39 607 15.56 2 8 184 23.00 0 159 1978 12.4 17
01/01/73 + #12 Notre Dame* W 40-6 3 71 23.66 1 15 81 5.40 3 1 -3 7.00 0 1 11 11.00 0 20 160 8.0 0
Totals 9-2-1 AP #4, Coaches #9 57 990 17.36 9 72 349 4.84 10 40 604 15.10 2 9 195 21.66 0 179 2138 11.9 17

(+) Neutral Site
(*) Rodgers also went 1/1 with a 52-yard TD pass vs. Notre Dame

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