Iowa football: 30 greatest players in Hawkeyes history

Ricky Stanzi, Iowa Hawkeyes. (Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images)
Ricky Stanzi, Iowa Hawkeyes. (Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images) /
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Iowa Hawkeyes
Iowa Hawkeyes. (Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images) /

Anyone who would choose anyone but the great Nile Kinnick for the top player in Iowa football history is crazy.

In Kinnick’s first three years in Iowa City, the Hawks won just five games combined, but at no fault of his own. He was the truest form of an iron man, a guy who could play injured and play every single minute of the game.

He was the quarterback, halfback, defensive back, punter and kicker, which is something we are never likely to see again.

What really separates Kinnick from every other player on this list though was his magical 1939 season when he carried the Iowa football team to a 6-1-1 record and ninth place finish in in the finall AP poll.

In that season, he was Iowa’s leading passer and leading rusher, while also punting the ball exceptionally well. Kinnick hauled in eight interceptions, an Iowa record that still stands to this day. He also happened to lead the nation in kick return yards as well.

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Kinnick would finish his career with 18 interceptions, which is also still an Iowa record to this day, but that’s not what he is most known for.

No, he is most known for being the Iowa football team’s only Heisman Trophy winner in the long history of the program.

After that remarkable senior year, Kinnick won the Heisman, the Walter Camp Award, the Maxwell Award and the Big Ten MVP Award. He was also named the AP Male Athlete of the Year.

Posthumously, Kinnick was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame and the Iowa Sports Hall of Fame.

Oh, and don’t let me forget to mention, the historic Kinnick stadium is named after him.

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There is no better way to finish up this list than to talk about the greatest player to ever play for the Iowa football team, Kinnick.