Mike Rucker, Danny Woodhead among 6 chosen to Nebraska Football Hall of Fame

Mike Rucker, Danny Woodhead among 6 chosen to Nebraska Football Hall of Fame
Mike Rucker (right) (World-Herald News Service)

Four former Huskers and two from other in-state colleges were named Thursday as the latest inductees for the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame.

The group includes three longtime NFL players in Mike Rucker (defensive end), Kyle Larson (punter) and Danny Woodhead (running back). Two other past Huskers are offensive linemen Dan Schmidt and Bob Sledge. Former Chadron State defensive end/fullback Casey Beran rounds out the honorees.

This year’s Hall of Fame class will celebrate with a dinner on the Nebraska campus Sept. 14 and is set to be introduced at Memorial Stadium prior to NU’s game against Troy on Sept. 15.

Woodhead is as celebrated as any Nebraska athlete, though the 2004 North Platte graduate never received a Husker scholarship offer from Frank Solich or Bill Callahan. The 5-foot-8 running back instead thrived at Chadron State. He twice won the Harlon Hill Trophy (2006, 2007) — Division II’s version of the Heisman — and eventually enjoyed a nine-year NFL career despite going undrafted out of college. He retired in the offseason.

Rucker was a major contributor on Nebraska’s 1995 and 1997 national title teams, recording 17 sacks and 40 total tackles for loss during his career. He added 55.5 sacks and 421 tackles across nine NFL seasons.

Larson still holds a Nebraska record with 195 punts and was a first-team All-American and finalist for the Ray Guy Award in 2003. The three-time All-Big 12 selection played five seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Schmidt and Sledge paved the way for many Huskers during their time on the offensive line. Schmidt was an honorable-mention All-American and an All-Big Eight pick at left guard as a senior in 1975. Sledge was a first-team All-Big Eight selection at tackle for NU in 1988, when he helped Nebraska to an NCAA rushing title and conference crown.

Beran was the first Chadron State player to earn both All-America and Academic All-America accolades in the same season. He and Woodhead are two of three Eagles in history to be named The World-Herald’s Nebraska State College Athlete of the Year. Beran won the award in 2000, and the native of Sargent racked up college totals of 182 tackles (including a school-record 35 sacks) and seven forced fumbles. He also scored 11 touchdowns as a fullback.​

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