LAWRENCE, Kan. – John Riggins went from Kansas football standout to Super Bowl MVP to the NFL Hall of Fame, and later this fall Kansas Athletics will add the former Jayhawk fullback’s name to the KU Football Ring of Honor at Memorial Stadium.
Riggins, who played at KU from 1968-70, will become the 15th player to have his name placed in the stadium when he is recognized during KU’s game against Baylor Oct. 13. During the season opener against Central Michigan on Sept. 1, Willie Pless will be added to the Ring of Honor.
Riggins was a two-time all-Big Eight Conference first-team selection, earning honors as a sophomore and again as a senior. His final year he rushed for 1,131 yards, and his 102.8 yards per game topped the conference.
Riggins led Kansas in rushing in each of his three seasons with the Jayhawks and finished his career with 2,659 yards, which currently ranks sixth all-time at KU. In 1970 he rushed for a then-school record 14 touchdowns, which is now tied for second.
In 1968 Riggins helped KU to a co-Big Eight Championship, a trip to the Orange Bowl and a national ranking as high as third during the year. The Jayhawks finished the year with a 9-2 record and a final Associated Press ranking of seventh after falling to third-ranked Penn State, 15-14, in the bowl game.
After a stellar college career, which was capped by his selection to the Senior Bowl, Riggins went on to a standout NFL career. He was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1992, one of three Jayhawks to be so honored, joining Gayle Sayers and Mike McCormack.
Riggins rushed for 11,352 yards and scored 116 touchdowns in his NFL career, which included playing for the New York Jets from 1971-75 and the Washington Redskins from 1976-79 and 1981-85. His yardage total ranks 13th in NFL history, while his touchdowns scored are eighth all-time.
Riggins was named the MVP of Super Bowl XVII when he rushed for a then-Super Bowl record 166 yards and scored the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter on a 43-yard run as the Redskins defeated Miami 27-17 in 1983.
He was named to the 1980s NFL All-Decade team and still ranks as the Redskins’ career rushing leader.
Riggins came to KU after earning four letters in football, basketball and track at Centralia (Kan.) High School. He was a prep all-American in football, earned all-state honors in basketball and twice won the state Class B 100 yards.
Riggins was born in Seneca, Kan., on April 8, 1949.
Other former Kansas players who have been recognized in the Ring of Honor include Nolan Cromwell, John Hadl, Curtis McClinton, Gale Sayers, Bobby Douglass, David Jaynes, George Mrkonic, Otto Schnellbacher, John Zook, Ray Evans, Bruce Kallmeyer, Gil Reich, and Oliver Spencer.