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Nile Kinnick attended Benson High School and lived in Omaha, Nebraska. He grew up and attended Adel High School in Iowa prior to moving to Nebraska late in high school. He chose Iowa over powerhouse Minnesota.
In 1937, he led the nation in punting and was named first team All-Big Ten and a third team All-American. He also played basketball, and was Iowa's second leading scorer and the 15th leading scorer in the Big Ten his sophomore year.
The 1938 season, Kinnick was hampered by injuries, and was not able to perform at his fullest, and was limited by treatments based on his faith. He was still named Honorable Mention All-Big Ten.
In the memorable 1939 season, Kinnick won nearly every award possible. He threw for 638 yards and 11 touchdowns on only 31 passes and ran for 374 yards. He was involved in 16 of the 19 touchdowns (11 passing, 5 rushing) that Iowa scored and was involved in 107 of the 130 points that Iowa scored that year. He played 402 of a possible 420 minutes that season. All told, Kinnick set 14 school records, six of which still stand over 65 years later.
Instead of pursuing baseball and football professionally, he enrolled in Law School. During that year (1940), he also served as an assistant football coach for the Hawkeyes, aiding the freshman team and scouting upcoming opponents.
He died during a training flight while serving as a United States Navy aviator in World War II in 1943.
Kinnick was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1951, and the University of Iowa renamed its football stadium Kinnick Stadium in his honor in 1972.
His number #24 has been retired, one of only two Iowa football numbers so recognized (along with Cal Jones). He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in the Hall's inaugural year in 1951, one of only two Hawkeye players so honored (Duke Slater was the other).
When the United States occupied Japan, it renamed the site intended for the 1940 Summer Olympics "Nile Kinnick Stadium." A high school in Yokosuka, Japan, for dependents of military personnel is named Nile C. Kinnick High School. The coin flipped at the start of every Big Ten football game bears his image, and each captain of a Big Ten team receives one such coin at the end of the year.
He was born 7/9/1918 and died on 6/2/1943 at the age of
The inequities in human relationships are many, but the lot of the Negro is one of the worst...kicked from pillar to post, condemned, cussed, ridiculed, accorded no respect, permitted no sense of human dignity. What can be done I don't know...When this war is over the problem is apt to be more difficult than ever. May wisdom, justice, brotherly love guide our steps to the right solution.
- Diary notes written during flight training in the South. Mentioned in the book, "Greatest Moments in Iowa Hawkeyes Football History"
As far as any activities I have been connected with are concerned, football has given me the opportunity to round out my philosophy and to change my thinking process more than any other activity with which I have been connected
- Mentioned in the book, "75 years with The Fighting Hawkeyes"
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