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.