Cyclones in NFL World Championship Games #FlashbackFriday

Jared Larson pictured with his dog Kenji (courtesy of the author).

Today’s blog post was authored by our guest blogger, Jared Larson. Jared is an Ames native and student here at Iowa State. He’s been attending ISU athletic events ever since he was 5 (2002). When not hitting the books, he can be found doing writing for Wide Right & Natty Lite and also working as equipment manager for Cyclone Hockey. Jared is also a member of two dance clubs on campus (Orchesis II and Celtic Dance Society). For those wondering what his dog is named, he goes by Kenji, and he is as good a companion as he is a brother to Jared.

Cyclones that have made NFL World Championship Appearances

Iowa State has been fielding a football team ever since 1892, and out of the thousands of players that have played in Ames, less than 200 have made it to professional ranks.  Of those, about twenty have made it to an NFL Championship game. For those interested in an all-time professional list, I have assembled lists (1920s-1930s, 1940s-1950s) that go up until the 1950s .

Our first Cyclone on our list is no other than Dick Barker, who was a letter winner in 1916, 1917, and 1919. The Oklahoma City native was an offensive guard and a very good one at that. In 1919, his All-American season, he was a stalwart on the offensive line. Knute Rockne, the famed Notre Dame coach, picked Barker for his All-American squad. Dick was also a very good wrestler here, going 10-1-1 and having five pins. His only defeat came in his first ever appearance, one in which he had a broken hand.

In 1921, Barker spent his only professional year playing for both the Rock Island Independents (for two games) and also the Chicago Staleys where he wore #18. In 2002, Iowa State inducted Dick into their Athletics Hall of Fame.

Photo of Clyde Shugart in the 1937 Iowa State vs. Nebraska Football Program (Department of Athletics Football Programs, RS 24/6/0/5, SCUA).

Clyde Shugart, an Ames High grad, made waves in high school, making first-team all-state in 1934 as an offensive guard. He was a tailback in 1936, but he would switch back for both the 1937 and 1938 seasons. In the magical season that was 1938, he, along with Ed Bock, would pave the way for quarterback Everett “Rabbit” Kischer. He would garner All-Big Six honors that season.

In the 1939 NFL Draft, Clyde Shugart was selected 158th overall by the Washington Redskins. (You can see his contract here) He stayed with Washington (#51) from 1939-1944, and he never missed a game. He played in the NFL Championship against the Bears in 1940, 1942, and 1943, only to win it all in 1942. In both 1941 and 1942, Shugart was honored as a Pro Bowl member, and in 1943 he was named an All-Pro. In 2000, the Iowa High School Football Hall of Fame inducted him, and in 2004, Iowa State inducted him to their Hall of Fame. Also in 2004, Coffin Corner caught up with Shugart.

Jim Doran (center #83) in 1950 (from @CycloneFB, courtesy of Iowa State Athletics Communications).

Jim Doran was honored as All-Big Seven in 1949, and in 1950, he was All-American. In a 1949 game against Oklahoma, he caught eight passes for 203 yards. He finished his Cyclone career with 1,410 yards on 79 receptions.

Doran was selected 55th overall by the Lions in the 1951 NFL Draft. He played a critical role in four (’52, ’53, ’54, and ‘57) NFL Championship games, and he had a 3-1 record in said games. In the 1952 season, he played in 11 games, catching a football 10 times for 147 yards. He was named MVP of the ’52 Lions and also got a sack in the NFL Championship. In the ’53 Championship, he caught the game-tying touchdown that led to the Lions winning 17-16. In 1954, he played in seven games, but accrued no playoff stats. In 1957, Doran finally got a starting nod where he had 1 receiving touchdown that he traveled 78 yards to obtain. Also, on the whole of 1957 he had 33 catches for 624 yards, 5 td.

Jim Doran’s 1957 Topps card (courtesy of the author).


Stan Campbell was the very first good Campbell in Iowa State history, winning letters from 1949-1951. In 1951, he was named captain of the I.S.C. squad and following his strong offensive and defensive efforts, Stan would be named the only player named to First Team All-Big Seven Offense and Defense. He would also be selected to play in the East-West Shrine Game.

Photograph of Stan Campbell (RS 24/6/0/5 Football Programs, SCUA).

He was drafted 213th overall by the Lions, where he would meet up with former Cyclone Jim Doran. Fun fact: Campbell’s first contract was for $5,000, and he had to supply his own shoulder pads and cleats. In the 1957 NFL Championship season, Campbell would appear in 12 games as a lineman.

Otto Stowe was very truly the Allen Lazard of his time (1968-1970) here at Iowa State. How so? In 1970, his senior year, he had 59 catches, six receiving touchdowns, and 822 receiving yards which garnered him All-Big Eight honors. He finished his Cyclone career with 132 catches, 1,751 receiving yards, and 10 touchdowns.

Photograph of Otto Stowe (From Cyclone Sidebar, courtesy of Iowa State Athletics).


The Dolphins selected him 47th overall in 1971, and in his rookie season he caught five passes for 68 yards and a touchdown. He did not appear in Super Bowl VI as he was battling Hepatitis. In 1972, the famed perfect season for Miami, he had 13 catches for 276 yards, and two of those catches were touchdowns.

Matt Blair played as a monster-back while at Iowa State, and while here he had a very successful career, attaining the following honors: All-Big 8, All-American, and Defensive MVP at the 1971 Sun Bowl. He finished his career with 202 tackles, 5 interceptions, 3 fumbles forced and 3 recovered.

Professionally, he spent 1974-1985 with the Minnesota Vikings. He appeared in both Super Bowl IX and Super Bowl XI. In Super Bowl IX against the Steelers, he blocked a Pittsburgh punt that led to Minnesota’s only score. In Super Bowl XI against the Raiders, he started and finished two tackles and assisted on three tackles.

From 1974-1977, Tom Randall was a force on the defensive line accumulating 286 total tackles. He was a first team All-Big 8 selection in 1977.  In the 1978 NFL Draft, the Cowboys selected him 194th overall. He appeared in 12 games during the season and appeared in Super Bowl XIII as a substitute.

Keith Krepfle was a very reliable tight end for the Cyclones from 1971-1973. He finished his career with 94 catches for 1,378 yards and he accumulated fifteen touchdowns while here. In a 1972 game against #3 Nebraska, the Potosi native would haul in two touchdowns in a game that ended in a 23-23 tie.  In the 1974 NFL Draft, the Eagles selected Krepfle 115th overall, but instead he spent his first season with the Jacksonville Sharks who were a part of the World Football League. Keith would play in Super Bowl XV, and he would catch two passes, one of which was a touchdown that made Krepfle the first player from a college in Iowa to score a touchdown in a Super Bowl.

Dan Johnson (from Iowa State Football Facebook, courtesy of Iowa State Athletics).

Dan Johnson was a tight end at Iowa State in 1980 and 1981. He had 25 receptions which led him to 406 total receiving yards. His longest reception as a Cyclone came in 1980, with length totaling 76 yards.

The “King of Pain” as he would be known professionally, was drafted 170th overall by the Dolphins in 1982. The Minnesota native started all sixteen regular season games, and by the time Super Bowl XIX rolled around, he got the starting nod yet again. He would have three receptions on the day, the first good for 5 yards, second good for 21 yards, and third good for two yards and a Miami touchdown. Unfortunately, the rest of the Dolphins couldn’t shore up success, and they lost 38-16.

#69 Karl Nelson (from @CycloneFB, courtesy of Iowa State Athletics)

Karl Nelson is one of the best offensive lineman to ever step foot on campus when he played here from 1979-1982. As a redshirt freshman in 1979, the DeKalb, Illinois, native started at right tackle and stayed there his entire career. In 1979, he earned Freshman All-America honors by both Football News and Bluechip Magazine. He was Second Team All-Big Eight in 1980, and in both 1981 and 1982, he earned First Team All-Big Eight honors.

The New York Giants would pick him up 70th overall in the 1983 Draft, and in the 1986 season, he led the Giants to Super Bowl XXI where the New York squad beat the Broncos 39-20. In 2005, he was inducted into Iowa State’s Hall of Fame.

The Humboldt native was recruited to Iowa State to play as a defensive tackle, but after some injuries, Reimers moved to the offensive line. Reimers, along with aforementioned Nelson, helped Dwayne Crutchfield have back to back 1,000 yard seasons. In 1983, after many knee surgeries, Bruce got honored as First-Team All-Big Eight and also got invited to the Senior Bowl.

The Bengals would draft Reimers 204th overall in the 1984 Draft, and he would stay there until 1991. In Super Bowl XXIII, he would get the start next to stud left tackle, Anthony Muñoz. Unfortunately, the Bengals would lose 20-16 to the 49ers in a memorable classic. Iowa State would induct him into their Hall of Fame in 2009.

Photo of Dennis Gibson (from @CycloneFB, courtesy of Iowa State Athletics).

Dennis Gibson played at Iowa State from 1983-1986 as one of our best ever linebackers from Ankeny. He finished his career with 304 tackles, as well as six sacks and interceptions. Gibson also caused eight fumbles and recovered three of them.

In the 1987 NFL Draft, the Lions selected him 203rd overall, but instead he brought the Chargers to the Super Bowl. In the 1994 AFC Championship against the Steelers, Gibson deflected a pass on a 4th & Goal to send the Chargers to Super Bowl XXIX where he would get the starting nod. Unfortunately, the 49ers would hang 49 on San Diego and they would lose by 23. In December 2017, Gibson granted the website that I normally write for an interview for those that want to read it.

Photograph Eugene Williams Guard trading card (courtesy of author).

Gene Williams was an outstanding offensive guard from 1987-1990. He earned First-Team All-Big Eight honors in 1990. His blocking ability allowed Blaise Bryant to have massive success in his rushing attack. Gannett News honored him as an All-American in 1990, and also in 1990, he played in the Blue-Gray Classic. He is in the Iowa State Hall of Fame Class of 2012.

The Dolphins drafted him 121st overall where he teamed up with former Cyclone teammate Keith Sims. The Omaha native would spend two seasons with Miami, two more with the Browns, and he was with the Falcons when he made his Super Bowl appearance. He started in Super Bowl XXXIII but alas the Falcons fell to the John Elway led Broncos 19-34.

(Photograph from Iowa State Football Facebook, courtesy of Iowa State Athletics).

Seneca Wallace may have only spent two years at ISU, but he made enough highlight tape worthy plays to make it seem like he spent more time here. Known best for his run against Texas Tech in 2002, Seneca almost engineered a comeback against #3 Florida State in 2002, but he would be ruled against by a referee, and the Cyclones would lose 38-31.

Seneca would find himself being drafted by Seattle (110th overall) and that’s where he would appear in Super Bowl XL two seasons later.  The Seahawks would lose, but Wallace would appear in the game as a sub.

(From @CycloneFB, courtesy of Iowa State Athletics).

Ellis Hobbs III was a great defensive back for the Cyclones from 2001-2004, playing in 49 games in which he accumulated a little over 200 tackles. In his final game as a Cyclone, he had a long interception to seal the Cyclone win in the 2004 Independence Bowl over Miami (OH).

The Patriots drafted him 84th overall in 2005. In the perfect regular season of 2007 for New England, Hobbs returned a kickoff for 108 yards which at the time, was tied for an NFL record. In Super Bowl XLII, he had the interception in the game of which he returned for 23 yards.

(From @CycloneATH, courtesy of Iowa State Athletics).

Kelechi Osemele is the next Cyclone on the list, playing here from 2008-2011. He was a strong force on the offensive line, and he would be named a First-Team All-American by Sports Illustrated. He played in 49 games and had 44 consecutive starts. The Ravens would draft him 60th overall, and the rookie would be a key factor in Baltimore’s win in Super Bowl XLVII over the 49ers.

Next up is A.J. Klein who was a stud linebacker from 2009-2012. He tallied 361 tackles which is fourth most in Iowa State history. In both 2011 and 2012, he was a First Team All-Big 12 honoree. In Super Bowl 50, he played 1 defensive snap and 22 special teams snaps.

A.J. Klein (courtesy of Iowa State Athletics)

Jomal Wiltz is the final Cyclone on the list, as he played here from 2015 to 2016. He would be named Honorable Mention All-Big 12 his senior season, and he won the Al and Dean Kundson award which goes to the most outstanding defensive player at Iowa State. He was selected to appear in the College Gridiron Showcase.

Wiltz is currently on the practice squad for the Patriots, however, I’ll be keeping an eye out for him on Sunday when New England takes on the Philadelphia Eagles!

References: (helped with rosters/pro stats)



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