George Kinnick was an iconic Heisman Trophy winner and one of college football’s greatest stars. Tragically, at 24 years old he lost his life while serving his nation in battle.
On July 9, 1918, he was born in Adel, Iowa to two brothers.
Early Life and Education
Kinnick was raised in a Christian Science family in Adel, Iowa where he learned discipline and hard work. He also excelled academically and athletically – playing American Legion baseball alongside future Hall-Famer Bob Feller and leading his high school football team to an undefeated season.
He was also an outstanding basketball player, scoring 485 points over three seasons. After graduating from Benson High School in Omaha, he enrolled at the University of Iowa.
He was highly sought-after by University of Iowa coach Ossie Solem. While on campus his freshman year, he played on the Hawkeyes’ football, baseball and basketball teams; however, after junior year he decided to forgo playing basketball so that he could focus on studying and football instead.
George Kinnick has had an illustrious NFL career, playing for both Houston Oilers and Tennessee Titans. He earned four consecutive Pro Bowl selections and earned himself the NFL Rookie of the Year award in 1996.
He served as a pre-game analyst for the 2007 BCS Championship Game on FOX, and he is renowned for giving out Ohio State hats and apparel to fellow analysts during the game.
Kinnick was an outstanding student-athlete at Adel High School, excelling in both football and basketball. After graduation, he pursued a degree in economics before attending law school at Iowa University.
Achievements and Honors
George Kinnick was an Iowa football star and Phi Beta Kappa student who chose to attend Iowa rather than Minnesota – all the makings of a college hero. Unfortunately, his story also ended tragically at 24 when an accident claimed his life.
He earned the distinction of all-state football and basketball player at Adel High School in Adel, Iowa – a small town with less than 3,500 residents located three miles north of Des Moines. He was renowned for his agile running style and knack for throwing late passes.
He also excelled in baseball, winning city championships both on the field and in the stands at Benson Park. He and fellow future hall-of-famer Bob Feller were teammates on a local team which often played American Legion summer ball.
Nile Kinnick was an iconic American figure who epitomized youth. He has been honored by journalists, governors and senators alike, but his memory continues to cast a long shadow over Iowa.
His hometown stadium, Hawkeye Stadium, is named in his honor and thousands of fans pass a statue dedicated to him each game. Yet until recently, most Iowans knew little about him personally.
On August 24, Vimeo will release a documentary film featuring legendary athlete Jim Thorpe that provides viewers with more insights into his life. Executive producer Scott Siepker, who hails from Mount Carmel and is an ardent Hawkeyes fan, spent years conducting interviews and researching archival research for the movie.
Through the film, viewers will learn of Kinnick’s impressive athletic and non-athletic accomplishments as well as his charming personality. Highlights of Kinnick’s correspondence with friends and admirers in the Midwest reveal his impressive writing talents and charismatic public speaking abilities.
On July 9, 1918 in Adel, Iowa, United States, George Kinnick earned notoriety as a college football player by winning the Heisman Trophy. As a unanimous first team All-American and only Iowa Hawkeye to receive this prestigious honor, he remains an iconic figure in Hawkeye history.
He tragically passed away while training to become a US Navy pilot during World War II, and in his memory the University of Iowa named their football stadium after him. Additionally, Kinnick was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1951.
Nile Kinnick was raised in a Christian Science family, where his parents instilled values of discipline and hard work into him. Additionally, they taught him how to turn his weaknesses into strengths. Nile was known for being very sociable; during his undergraduate days at Iowa, he joined Phi Kappa Psi fraternity.