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Most Notable Iowa Hawkeyes in History
Most Notable Iowa Hawkeyes in History
May 19, 2024 4:15 AM

There’s always a huge space to discuss who’s the best, and in Iowa Hawkeye’s history, it’s rich. Dating back to 1899, Iowa’s football landscape has always been part of the fun and excitement of every football season.

Armed with an education from the University of Iowa, Hawkeye’s finest accomplish many things in different fields, especially football. Many rose to the hall of fame, mastered their field, and showed the world what their State has got.

Debates of who’s really the best are always a fun topic in every college community football circle. In this list, learn about some of the most notable Iowa Hawkeyes and how they left an indelible mark on football history.

Ken Ploen

Starting in 1956, Ken Ploen was the first of Hawkeye’s starting quarterback, who led his team to its first title in the Big Ten Conference after 35 years, boosting Iowa Hawkeyes odds during that season. This victory escalated more excitement when their team won a major victory in 1957 for the Rose Bowl, and he was later named MVP for his strategic gameplay.

When Ken approached his senior year in the football season, he was awarded an “All-American” and was named Big Ten Conference Most Valuable Player. His legacy of winning the first-ever victory in the Rose Bowl Game has sealed his name to the annals of Hawkeyes’ football greatness. Ploen ignited inspiration in the hearts of the succeeding quarterbacks.

Randy Duncan

The only player to be drafted to be number 1 in overall selection in Iowa’s football history, Randy Duncan has made it happen. He was chosen by the Green Bay Packers in 1959 for their NFL draft. This only came after Randy had led the Hawkeyes to its amazing journey.

During his time with the Hawkeyes, he was the starting quarterback for two seasons. And in that period, he led the Hawkeyes in the final 10 in those seasons. The Hawkeyes received the All-Big Ten First Team for the second time after Duncan earned it. He was also named Big Ten Conference Most Valuable Player and “All-American” consensus.

Ultimately, Randy Duncan has led his team to the second and last victory of the Hawkeye in the Rose Bowl Game, sealing his name in Iowa Hawkeyes’ finest.

Gordon Locke

One of the football players of Iowa to ever receive “First-Team All-American” twice, Gordon Locke is one of the key players for the Hawkeyes’ amazing three-year greatness that earned the team’s first two championships in the Big Ten Conference.

During his time, the Hawkeyes’ final record was 19-2, earning him “First-Team All-Big Ten” honors twice. Today, his name is in the College Football Hall of Fame and Iowa Sports Hall of Fame. A true feat for his hard work and perseverance during the hardships of the Hawks.

Alex Karras

Imagine the ideal physique of a defensive lineman, Alex Karras is an embodiment of Hawkeyes for that. Many considered him the best for that position to ever play for the Hawks. In two consecutive years, 1956 and 1957, he earned “First-Team All-American” twice.

He was one of the team members during the Hawkeyes, who won their first-ever Rose Bowl game with a final record of 16-2. His display of dominating the defensive line has earned him the 1957 Heisman Trophy runner-up. He also won the Outland Trophy, awarded to the country’s best linemen.

After contributing to the Hawkeyes’ greatness, Alex made it to the NFL. He was drafted nine times for the All-Pro and four times for the Pro Bowler and has played 161 games. His career transition made his name known to every player who aspired from hard work.

Chuck Long

The Hawkeyes’ best quarterback, Chuck Long, holds the record nine times at least. His early span of career as a starting quarterback lasted for four seasons. In this period, the Hawkeyes won at least eight games every season and transitioned to four bowl games, in which they won twice.

Chuck was an “All-Big Ten player” thrice; “Big Ten Player of the Year” thrice. Plus, he was awarded the Davey O’Brien Award thrice and the Maxwell Award thrice. He was also runner-up in Heisman Trophy races, 7th in 1984 and 2nd in 1985.

Nile Kinnick

A quarterback, defensive back, halfback, kicker, and punter, Nile Kinnick is someone we will never see again. Kinnick embodies “Iron Man,” for he can play at every point of the game, even if injured.

What truly sets Nile Kinnick apart from everyone on this list was his 1939 mind-blowing season. During that season, he carried the Hawkeyes team to an outstanding 6-1-1 score, finishing 9th in the final Associated Press poll.

Kinnick finished 18 interceptions in his career. After that, he won the Big Ten Most Valuable Player Award, Maxwell Award, Walter Camp Award, and the Heisman Trophy. Lastly, he earned the AP Male Athlete of the Year

His name was in the Iowa Sports Hall of Fame and College Football Hall of Fame. They also named him the historically grandiose Kinnick Stadium.

Final Thoughts

While it remains a debatable topic in every college football circle, the legacy of Hawkeyes’s notable legends inspires and influences those who follow them. And without a doubt, their contribution made Iowa Hawkeyes notable in the country’s football history.

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