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The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / Latest College Football News & Rumors / Top 10 Iowa Hawkeyes Football Players of all time

Top 10 Iowa Hawkeyes Football Players of all time

Publish Date: 04/30/2024
Fact checked by: Mark Lewis

The Iowa Hawkeyes have a great tradition, and today, we will look back through that history to give you the greatest Hawkeyes of all time.


Stats, games won, and impact on the state as a whole. These Hawkeyes are all legends and are what has made Iowa Hawkeye football so special. Let us look back at the greatest Hawkeyes of all-time.

10) Bryan Bulaga, offensive tackle

Iowa’s longstanding tradition of producing major offensive linemen continued with Bryan Bulaga, who went on to play for both the Green Bay Packers and Los Angeles Chargers during an impressive NFL career. Beginning as a starter midway through his freshman season and continuing until midway through 2009 – earning All-Big Ten honors and ultimately becoming Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year award winner in 2009; Outland Trophy watch list status; then Big Ten O-lineman of the Year 2009. He played 126 games (122 starts) before being selected first-round by Green Bay, who went on to win another Super Bowl championship before leaving for the LA Chargers, where he finished up in 2011.

9) Marvin McNutt, Wide Receiver

Iowa may not have had the most robust tradition of wide receivers, but one of their finest was Marvin McNutt. As a senior, McNutt caught 82 passes for 1,315 yards and 12 touchdowns, being named Big Ten Wide Receiver of the Year as well as being honored on All-Big Ten First Team. He finished his Iowa career with 170 receptions totalling 2861 yards and 28 scores – an achievement unrivalled at his time! Check out all the latest college football news and rumors.

8) Randy Duncan, Quarterback

Randy Duncan is the first Iowa Hawkeyes player ever selected as first overall in an NFL Draft. In 1958, Duncan was honored as consensus All-American and Big Ten MVP. Furthermore, he led Iowa in total offense, completion percentage, passing yardage, total offense, completion percentage and passing yardage while placing second in Heisman voting that year. During his time at Iowa, he earned 24 wins, including two Big Ten championships and two Rose Bowl championships, before eventually being inducted into both the Iowa Sports Hall of Fame and the College Football Hall of Fame.

7) Josey Jewell, Linebacker

Josey Jewell is one of Iowa City’s finest linebackers ever produced. As a sophomore, he led his team with 126 tackles, three sacks, and four interceptions and was recognized with second-team All-Big Ten honors. A year later, as a junior, he started every game and led with 124 tackles as the All-Big Ten second-team selection; by his senior year, he led all Big Ten conference players with 125 tackles while being named a unanimous All-American, first-team All-Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year honors, as well as being honored with Jack Lambert Award and Lott Trophy honors.

6) Brandon Scherff, offensive tackle

Brandon Scherff may have been Iowa’s greatest offensive tackle ever produced and one of their most decorated linemen. 2014 proved particularly memorable as he won three honors: the Outland Trophy, Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year, and unanimous All-American. Scherff was eventually selected by the Washington Football Team, where he would remain until signing with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2022.

5) Dallas Clark, Tight End

Dallas Clark is best known for his time with the Indianapolis Colts; before that, he was a critical Iowa Hawkeye tight end. In 2001, he started ten games, and caught 38 passes for 539 yards and four touchdowns while garnering honorable mention All-Big Ten recognition. By 2002 he had recorded 43 catches for 742 yards and four touchdowns, helping lead Iowa to an 11-2 record and their first undefeated Big Ten season in 80 years – earning him first-team All-Big Ten honors as well as first-team All-Big Ten selection and unanimous first team All-American status before continuing onto an NFL career that saw him win Super Bowl victory with Indianapolis Colts in 2007.

Video: Dallas Clark Iowa Highlights

Dallas Clark Iowa Highlights

4) Andre Tippett, linebacker

Andre Tippett led Iowa to one of its most dominant defenses in history in 1981. Under his direction, they earned their first winning season, Big Ten championship and first Rose Bowl appearance since 1965 with only 129 points allowed that year! Tippett made two-time first-team all-Big Ten honors while still setting school records for tackles for lost yardage per season; he also went on to a distinguished NFL career with the New England Patriots and was honored with inductions into the Varsity Hall of Fame; Pro Football Hall of Fame; College Football Hall of Fame among others.

Video: Tippett honored

Tippett honored

3) Chuck Long, quarterback

Iowa Hawkeyes quarterback Chuck Long stands as one of their greatest quarterbacks. An All-American, Maxwell Award winner, Davey O’Brien Award recipient, Big Ten Most Valuable Player and finished second in 1985 Heisman Trophy voting behind Bo Jackson, Long helped the Hawkeyes reach No.1 nationally while leading them to Rose Bowl victory that year – throwing for nearly 3,000 yards and 26 touchdowns while starting all four years. When Long graduated, he held every passing record except one; he is now honoured in the College Football Bowl Hall of Fame as well. Long is still considered one of the best Big Ten Quarterbacks of all-time.

Video: The Bootleg - 30 Years Later

The Bootleg – 30 Years Later

2) Alex Karras, defensive tackle

Younger generations might better recognize Alex Karras for his acting work than as a football player. Perhaps you remember him from Mel Brooks’ film “Blazing Saddles” or as Emmanuel Lewis’s father in “Webster.” However, before any of that happened, he was best known as Iowa defensive tackle Alex Karras. He won two-time All-American honours before going on to have an outstanding NFL career with the Detroit Lions, where he became a four-time Pro Bowler as well as being honoured on both their All-Time Team as well as NFL 60s All-Decade team as well as being honoured into both the College and Pro Football Halls of Fames for his accomplishments.

Video: 🏈 NCAA Legend Special: Alex Karras, DT, Iowa with Vincent Turner & Jaimes Timas

🏈 NCAA Legend Special: Alex Karras, DT, Iowa with Vincent Turner & Jaimes Timas

1) Nile Kinnick, halfback, quarterback

Nile Kinnick was an integral figure in Iowa Hawkeyes football history. Hailing from Adel, Iowa and attending Iowa despite its struggling program, Kinnick earned first-team All-Big Ten honors and third-team All-America recognition in 1937. In 1939, however, he outdid himself with 638 yards and 11 touchdowns on just 31 passes in addition to running for 374 yards on 32 attempts – accounting for 16 out of 19 touchdowns (1 passing/5 rushing).

Iowa scored 19 touchdowns that season and amassed 130 points during that season alone! He contributed 16 of them (11 passing + 5 rushing). He earned accolades that included consensus first-team All-American honors, the Heisman Trophy, Big Ten MVP honors, Maxwell and Walter Camp Awards as well as being named an AP Athlete of the Year. Kinnick later joined the Naval Air Reserve but tragically died during a training mission flight; Iowa later named its stadium Kinnick Stadium to commemorate this icon of success and honor his memory.

Video: 'KINNICK: The Documentary' Trailer

‘KINNICK: The Documentary’ Trailer

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