After his days as a three-sport standout at McCook High School, Jeff Kinney came to the University of Nebraska in 1968 to play quarterback.
But two other QBs, Jerry Tagge and Van Brownson, also joined the Huskers that season. So Kinney moved to flanker and eventually I-back, and that's where he flourished over the next three seasons.
Kinney was named the Big 8 sophomore of the year in 1969 as he led the Huskers in rushing (590 yards), scoring (74 points) and receiving (44 catches for 455 yards). Against rival Oklahoma that season, Kinney rushed for 127 yards and three touchdowns on a career-high 35 carries as he overshadowed Oklahoma quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Steve Owens.
But it was another showdown with Oklahoma that would become Kinney’s finest moment.
After rushing for 684 yards while splitting time with Joe Orduna on the 1970 national championship team, Kinney rumbled for 1,136 yards and 17 touchdowns his senior year.
That 1971 season was punctuated by the "Game of the Century" when the Huskers beat Oklahoma 35-31 on Thanksgiving Day. Kinney bulled his way to a season-high 171 yards on 31 carries and scored four touchdowns, the final one with less than two minutes remaining to put Nebraska ahead for good. All but one play on Nebraska's winning 74-yard drive belonged to Kinney, who gained 151 yards after halftime.
"You just bite your lip and say, 'They're not going to stop me,'" Kinney said. "I don't know that we were a whole lot better than they were. But we were awfully determined not to lose that football game."
When Nebraska beat Alabama 38-6 in the Orange Bowl Kinney had 99 yards and a touchdown in his final college game the Huskers completed a 13-0 season and won their second consecutive national title.
Kinney then was selected as the 23rd overall pick in the first round of the 1972 NFL draft by the Kansas City Chiefs. He would play four seasons with the Chiefs and the 1976 season with the Buffalo Bills, where he was a blocking back for O.J. Simpson, who gained 1,500 yards that year.
Best athlete from Nebraska played with or against: Jim White, a basketball star at Hastings High School who now is a Lincoln golf pro.
Best moment as an athlete: "It was after the Nebraska-Oklahoma game, when there were lots of people on the field. Somehow my dad found me right in the middle of the field, gave me a big hug and took what was left of my jersey." Kinney's father, Cecil, died last year.
At Nebraska: 592 rushes, 2,420 yards, 32 touchdowns
NFL: 358 rushes, 1,285 yards, six touchdowns
Photo showcase: Jeff Kinney through the years
Kinney was No. 99 in the inaugural Nebraska 100 list in 2005. See more about the 2005 list »