1982 Mike Rozier "Heisman"
(Authentic Reproduction)



It might border on the unbelievable that a Heisman Trophy winner attended a major university revered as a national football power, yet wasn't on their list of recruits and could only be described as having been discovered by accident. Yet Mike Rozier was not on Nebraska's radar until his Woodrow Wilson High School team from Camden, New Jersey played against Pennsauken High School. With a Nebraska assistant at the stadium to scout Pennsauken's tight end Billy Griggs, a player who certainly was the real deal, playing first at the University Of Virginia and then with the New York Jets from 1985 through 1989, it was Rozier who stole the show with his swift, powerful rushes. Nebraska offensive backfield coach Frank Solich personally handled Rozier's recruitment and by the time the halfback's senior season had ended, he was being pursued by a bevy of national powers. Not having the grades to enter a four-year college, most of the other programs backed off but Nebraska Head Coach Tom Osborne made a commitment to Rozier and encouraged him to attend Coffeyville JC in Kansas. In his one season with the Coffeyville Ravens, he led them to a 9-0 season, gaining 1157 yards with a gaudy 7.4 yards-per-carry average, and scored ten touchdowns. The fact that Nebraska remained in touch with Mike and because both Coach Osborne and Mike's father shared strong religous beliefs, Mike remained committed to Nebraska despite the deluge of offers from numerous other universities.
As the expression goes, "the rest is history." The 5'11", 210 pound speedster who doubled as a trackman, split duty with Roger Craig his first season at NU yet rushed for 943 yards. In 1982 he was a consensus All American, running for 1689 yards, fifteen TD's, and a 7.0 yards-per-attempt average. As a senior, Nebraska's high-octane offense was often unstoppable, putting up an average of over fifty points a game. Rozier's statistics were mind-boggling; a nation's best 2486 total yards with 2148 of those coming on the ground and twenty-nine touchdowns scored. He topped out with 285 rushing yards against Kansas. His ankle injury may have cost Nebraska the National Championship as they lost by one point to the University Of Miami with a hobbling Rozier trying to go all out, but he completed a dream season as the Heisman Trophy winner and again was named a consensus All American. He completed his College Football Hall Of Fame career with a total of 4780 yards and a per-rush average of 7.2.
Pro football was not as rewarding to Rozier. He was the first pick in the USFL draft, and signed with the Pittsburgh Maulers, rebuffing the Oilers of the NFL who had made him the overall draft's number-two choice. After a season with the Maulers and one with the Jacksonville Bulls, Rozier joined the Oilers and played in Houston from 1985 through the first three games of 1990, completing the remainder of the year as well as the '91 season with the Falcons. In his eight NFL seasons, he rushed for 4462 yards and thirty touchdowns, breaking the 1000-yard barrier in 1988 with 1002 yards. A chronic foot injury forced him into retirement where he entered the business world in his native New Jersey. As a Heisman Trophy winner and a key member of one of Nebraska's greatest teams, Rozier will forever be recognized as one of their finest players.  

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