By Bob Hohn’s senior year at Beatrice High School, the three-sport standout was always the center of attention.
Or at least that’s what it seemed like to Lyle Sittler of Crete at the Blue River Conference track meet at Doane College.
“Whenever Bob’s name was called to compete in a running event, a hush came over the stadium,” Sittler says. “About every event — the high jump, pole vault — it stopped. I threw the shot and discus, and my coach said, ‘I think we’d better go watch this, guys.’”
Hohn was a four-time state hurdles champion, a state basketball champion and an all-state football player. As a senior in 1960, he was the Nebraska high school athlete of the year, and in 2001, he was inducted into the Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame.
Hohn and Sittler were co-captains of Nebraska’s 1964 Cotton Bowl team. One of Hohn’s biggest plays as a Husker came in the 1963 victory over a Kansas team that featured Gale Sayers. With Nebraska leading 17-9 in the fourth quarter, Hohn intercepted a pass and returned it 53 yards for the clinching touchdown.
Although not big — 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds as a college senior — Hohn played five years as a defensive back with the Pittsburgh Steelers, recording five interceptions in his final season in 1969.
“Very tough, tough competitor,” said the late Lloyd Voss, a teammate of Hohn’s with the Huskers and Steelers.
“He was a great athlete. Really, really fast,” said former Husker teammate Monte Kiffin, a longtime defensive coordinator in the NFL and college football.
Hohn returned to Nebraska after football, worked as a mortgage banker and raised two children with his wife, Sandy. But in 1999, he was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease. He died in 2003.
He handled the brutal disease with grace. He met weekly with friends at Brewsky’s in Lincoln for “Mondays with Bob,” a takeoff on the book “Tuesdays with Morrie.”
He and his wife also started the Bob Hohn Celebrity golf tournament, a fundraiser for ALS research.
Played for: Beatrice High, Nebraska Cornhuskers and Pittsburgh Steelers
Best athlete from Nebraska played with or against: Gale Sayers, a sprinter at Omaha Central and a star running back at Kansas
Best moment as an athlete: Hohn once said a highlight was scoring three touchdowns in the 1960 Shrine Bowl. "I was kind of surprised that somebody from a small school could play against the guys from the big schools."
Hohn was No. 56 in the inaugural Nebraska 100 list in 2005. See more about the 2005 list »