Athlete, scholar, author, community activist, entrepreneur and Jewel’s dad… anyway you read it Johnny Rodgers is far more than just football.
As a player with the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers, Johnny Rodgers served as a punt return specialist, pass receiver and running back. Rodgers broke virtually every offensive team record during his tenure. He was twice named to the College Football All American Team, won the Walter Camp Award and the Heisman Trophy in 1972 for most outstanding player in college football.
Honors recognize Johnny’s athletic ability, but he is also proud of degrees in broadcast journalism and advertising from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In 2005 he was named the University of Nebraska’s Entrepreneur of the Year. In 2006 Johnny authored his first book; “An Era of Greatness: Coach Bob Devaney’s Final Four Seasons in University of Nebraska Football (1969-1972),” a “must read” for all “Husker” fans. Johnny’s second book titled; “10 Minutes Of Insanity” is a story of Johnny’s first 25 years and an inspiration for all.
Born in Monroe, Louisiana, Coach William Reed moved to Omaha, Nebraska in the early 1970’s and coincidentally became the head football coach of Monroe Junior High
School to begin his successful coaching career. During that four year period at MJH, his team lost just one football game. In 1976 he moved over to Benson High
School. In his first year there he was selected “Teacher of the Year.”
In 1979 Coach Reed became the head football and track coach at Omaha Central High School, bringing those programs into state and national prominence, and winning the Nebraska State Class A Football Championship in 1984. In 1993 Coach Reed wrote seven books on teaching kids the game of golf. This guided him to create Omaha’s first Youth Golf Academy, where he taught over 5,000 kids over a ten year period.
He has most recently written and published a book, The Four Sides which chronicles his life at Omaha Central High School from 1979-1991. Coach Reed has been recognized for being the first black head football coach, in the history of the state of Nebraska, at a predominantly white high school.
He is currently one of the co-founders and a board member of the prestigious Jet Award honoring the top NCAA outstanding college football kick and punt returner.
President, CEO of Performance Solutions Worldwide, Denny and Johnny Rodgers formed a business partnership starting in 1996 that has become more than just business. They have become very close personal friends as well. Together, they have created various marketing, promotional and strategic partnership programs, that have spanned across 14 countries.
In 2011, when Johnny said; “It’s time to start a program to honor the top kick off and punt return specialists in all of college football each year,” Denny knew he wanted to be involved, but didn’t understand at that time the full scope of the opportunity. Now, in the 10th year of this incredible program, The Jet Award has honored some of the greatest college football players in history. As shown on this website.
“I am deeply honored and also inspired at what we have accomplished together in such a short period of time. Not only have we honored some of the greatest players, but we have also helped hundreds of people get scholarships to Metropolitan Community College. We are all looking into the future with excitement .” – Denny Drake
Mike’l Severe worked for nearly 20 years as a TV sports and news reporter, from New Orleans to Albuquerque to Omaha.
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The importance of the return was presented with elegance by one of the greatest coaches in college football history, Dr. Tom Osborne. In the inaugural presentation of the Return Specialist Award banquet Coach Osborne summed up the importance of the return in layman terms. He noted that anytime a kick was returned to or beyond his opponents 40 yard line his team scored 75% of the time. Any drive that starting behind his teams 40 yard line they scored only 25% of the time. The importance of the return cannot be exemplified in any better terms.
The Jet Award Foundation and Trust: The program creates opportunities for youth through character, educational, and social development. It’s partnership’s with culturally competent network case managers, service providers allows at risk youth to be exposed to wrap around services in the community at large.
The Johnny Rodgers Youth Foundation is assisting to foster the development of a secure, next generation database application that will greatly assist all members of the Network for Holistic Recovery to accurately and efficiently service any unmet needs of its clients. This infrastructure will provide a platform to manage the network’s outreach, assessment, referral and follow-up initiatives.
Its Mission: To help the most vulnerable students and households to achieve personal best and stability; to approach each student unit circumstances as savable within human dignity and value; to assist those most challenged with chronic issues resulting in non-compliance which causes various disruptions of services and resource to achieve compliance and skills of self-sufficiency; to achieve Holistic Recovery as the recovery of the “total person” through Community, Resource Management, and inclusiveness by a team of community based caregivers, and specialists to create true opportunities for self-sufficient living.
Since its inception college football has been widely heralded as the most exciting, dramatic and fascinating sport in the nation. The excitement and spirit of the sport is particularly captivated in the play known as the return. For every return there is a returner and indeed they are special. Throughout college football every position has been targeted and recognized for post season award with one exception. From the kicker to the punter, from linebackers to defensive backs, from the center to the quarterback. Lineman, running backs, receivers, they are all honored annually in grand fashion in multiple ceremonies. However, in the midst of all this a key position has been omitted. We will honor the most exciting and electrifying play in college football, the return.
Those daredevils that dare to participate who we call specialists.
Joe “747” Adams (born April 5, 1958) is a former Canadian football quarterback who played three seasons in the Canadian Football League with the Saskatchewan Roughriders, Toronto Argonauts and Ottawa Rough Riders during 1982 to 1984. He was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the twelfth round of the 1981 NFL Draft, but remained a practice squad member during his one year with the team. He played college football at Tennessee State University. Adams garnered the nickname “747” in reference to the Boeing 747 aircraft.
Ty Anthony Montgomery II (born January 22, 1993) is an American football wide receiver for the New England Patriots of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at Stanford. Montgomery was drafted as a wide receiver by the Green Bay Packers in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft. In 2016, he changed positions to running back.
Tyler Deron Lockett (born September 28, 1992) is an American football wide receiver for the Seattle Seahawks of the National Football League (NFL). He was drafted by the Seahawks in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft. He played college football at Kansas State. In college, he set numerous Kansas State football records and was both a 2011 All-American (as a kickoff returner) and 2014 College Football All-America Team consensus All-American selection (as a punt returner). In college, he totaled 6,586 career all-purpose yards and 35 touchdowns, including 3,710 yards and 29 touchdowns as a receiver.
Christian Jackson McCaffrey (born June 7, 1996), also known by his initials CMC, is an American football running back for the San Francisco 49ers of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at Stanford and was drafted by the Carolina Panthers eighth overall in the 2017 NFL Draft. As a sophomore in 2015, McCaffrey was named AP College Football Player of the Year and was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy. He holds the NCAA record for most all-purpose yards in a season, with 3,864. McCaffrey holds numerous NFL and Panthers franchise records and is one of three players ever to record 1,000 rushing and 1,000 receiving yards in the same season, doing so in 2019.
William Abb Cannon Sr. (August 2, 1937 – May 20, 2018) was an American football halfback, fullback and tight end who played professionally in the American Football League (AFL) and the National Football League (NFL). He attended Louisiana State University (LSU), where he played college football as a halfback, return specialist, and safety for the LSU Tigers. At LSU, Cannon was twice named a unanimous All-American, helped the 1958 LSU team win a national championship, and received the Heisman Trophy as the nation’s most outstanding college player in 1959. His punt return against Ole Miss on Halloween night in 1959 is considered by fans and sportswriters to be one of the most famous plays in LSU sports history.
Williams was born to Pam Veasey and Marvin Williams on July 15, 1998. He grew up in Pasadena, California and originally attended Saint Francis High School before transferring to JSerra Catholic High School before his senior year. As a senior, Williams was named Trinity League co-Most Valuable Player after rushing for 1,175 yards and 14 touchdowns on offense at running back and was also an All-Area selection at defensive back. He received no scholarship offers to play college football and enrolled at Boise State after being offered to join the team as a preferred walk-on.[
Richard Upchurch (born May 20, 1952) is an American former professional football player who was a wide receiver and return specialist in the National Football League (NFL). He played his entire career with the Denver Broncos from 1975 to 1983. One of 29 individuals to be selected to multiple All-Decade teams, Upchurch is noted as one of the greatest return specialists of all time.
William Arthur Johnson (born January 27, 1952), better known as Billy “White Shoes” Johnson, is an American former professional football player who was a wide receiver and return specialist in the National Football League (NFL) from 1974 through 1988. A 75th and 100th Anniversary All-Time NFL Team selection, Johnson was one of the first players to display elaborate celebrations in the end zone.
Damieon Dante Hall (born September 20, 1978) is a former American football wide receiver and return specialist who played nine seasons in the National Football League (NFL). He is nicknamed the “Human Joystick” and the “X-Factor“. Hall was a fifth-round draft pick out of Texas A&M University by the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2000 NFL Draft. Hall played for the Chiefs for seven years before being traded to the St. Louis Rams in 2007. Hall was ranked the 10th greatest return specialist in NFL history on NFL Network‘s NFL Top 10 Return Aces.
Clifford Branch Jr. (August 1, 1948 – August 3, 2019) was an American professional football wide receiver who played with the Oakland / Los Angeles Raiders during his entire 14-year National Football League (NFL) career. He won three NFL championships with the Raiders in Super Bowl XI, XV and XVIII. He was selected by the Raiders in the fourth round of the 1972 NFL Draft after playing college football for the Colorado Buffaloes. He was posthumously elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2022.
A two time All-American, Garrett set numerous NCAA, Pac-8 Conference and USC records in his career by amassing a then unheard of 3,221 yards and scored 30 touchdowns. Garrett also led the nation in rushing in 1965 with 267 carries for 1,440 yards. He also caught 36 passes, returned 43 punts, returned 30 kickoffs and threw 6 passes. Two of his passes went for touchdowns. Garrett was awarded the 1965 W. J. Voit Memorial Trophy as the outstanding football player on the Pacific Coast. He won the Heisman Trophy after the 1965 regular season. In 1985, he was voted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
Ginn played for his father, Ted Ginn Sr., in high school at Glenville High School in Cleveland, Ohio, where he played defensive back, quarterback, and wide receiver for the football team. Ginn was selected as the 2004 USA Today Defensive Player of the Year, a 2004 Parade All-American, and named the 2004 SuperPrep National Defensive Player of the Year. He also participated in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl as a member of the East team, along with former Dolphins teammates Ryan Baker and Chad Henne, and was named the Most Valuable Player of the game.
Aaron DaRon Lockett (born September 6, 1978) is a former American football and Canadian football wide receiver and return specialist in the National Football League (NFL) for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, San Francisco 49ers, and in the Canadian Football League (CFL) for the Ottawa Renegades and BC Lions. He played college football at Kansas State University where he set school and Big 12 Conference football and track and field records. His brother Kevin Lockett and nephew Tyler Lockett also played wide receiver at Kansas State where they also set records.
Davis grew up in St. Francisville, Louisiana and attended West Feliciana High School, where he helped lead the Saints to a 3A state championship as a senior in 2017 and also starred in track, winning the 200-meter dash at the state meet.
Rated as a 3-star prospect, Davis chose to play his college football at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas over a scholarship offer from Tennessee. He enrolled at TCU in the summer of 2018.