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Baseball

Darren Dreifort

  • Born: May 3, 1972
  • Died:
  • Connection to Kansas: Born in Wichita

Achievement:

Darren Dreifort was one of the greatest players to ever play at Wichita State University. He helped the Shockers to three conference championships and three straight National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) College World Series appearances including two runner-up finishes. He was a two-time All-Conference selection, Missouri Valley Conference Pitcher of the Year, two-time All-American and winner of the Golden Spikes award, given annually to the best amateur player. He was drafted in the first round of the 1993 Major League Baseball (MLB) draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers and played six seasons with the Dodgers. He is a member of the College Baseball Hall of Fame, the Wichita State Athletics Hall of Fame, and the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.

Darren Dreifort image
Darren Dreifort
Photo courtesy of the College Baseball Hall of Fame

Basketball

Lucius Allen

  • Born: September 26, 1967
  • Died:
  • Connection to Kansas: Born in Kansas City

Achievement:

Considered one of the greatest high school players in Kansas during the 20th century, Lucius Allen was a two-time state champion, two-time All-State selection, and a high school All-American. He went on to play at UCLA where he was a part of the legendary Bruin teams of the 1960s and 1970s. He was an All-Conference player, an All-American, and helped lead the Bruins to two of their ten straight national championships. He was drafted in the first round of the 1969 National Basketball Association (NBA) draft by the Seattle SuperSonics and played ten season with the SuperSonics, Milwaukee Bucks, Los Angeles Lakers, and Kansas City Kings. He is a member of the UCLA Athletics Hall of Fame and the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.

Lucius Allen image
Lucius Allen
Photos courtesy of The Wichita Eagle

Ernie Barrett

  • Born: August 27, 1929
  • Died:
  • Connection to Kansas: Born in Pratt, raised in Wellington

Achievement:

Known as "Mr. K-State," Ernie Barrett was an All-State basketball player who was an All-American player at Kansas State University. He captained the Wildcats to the 1951 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) national championship game and was later named Most Valuable Player of the 1951 East/West All-Star game. His #22 jersey was retired by K-State. He was selected in the first round of th 1951 National Basketball Association (NBA) draft by the Boston Celtics and played two seasons with the Celtics. He is a member of the K-State Athletics Hall of Fame and the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.

Ernie Barrett image
Ernie Barrett
Photo courtesy of the Topeka Capital-Journal

B.H. Born

  • Born:June 6, 1932
  • Died:February 3, 2013
  • Connection to Kansas: Born in Osawatomie, raised in Medicine Lodge

Achievement:

An All-State player, B.H. Born still holds the record for most points scored in the Kansas High School State Tournament (111). He went on to star at the University of Kansas where he was a two-time All- Conference selection and an All-American. He led the Jayhawks to the 1953 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) national championship game and was name Most Outstanding Player even though the Jayhawks didn't win the game. His #23 jersey was retired by Kansas. He then played professionally for the Caterpillar Tractor Company and won three Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) tournament championships. He is a member of the KU Athletics Hall of Fame and the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.

B.H. Born image
B.H. Born
Photo courtesy of the University of Kansas

Antoine Carr

  • Born: July 23, 1961
  • Died:
  • Connection to Kansas: Graduated high school in Wichita

Achievement:

Antoine Carr was a high school All-American who went on to star at Wichita State University where he was a four-time All-Conference player, Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year, and an All-American. He is fourth all-time in career points, holds the record for most points in a game, and had his #35 jersey retired. He was drafted in the first round of the 1983 National Basketball Association (NBA) draft by the Detroit Pistons and played 16 seasons with the Atlanta Hawks, Sacramento Kings, San Antonio Spurs, Utah Jazz, Houston Rockets, and Vancouver Grizzlies. He is a member Shocker Sports Hall of Fame and the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.

Antoine Carr image
Antoine Carr
Photo courtesy of the Associated Press

Paul Endacott

  • Born: July 3, 1902
  • Died: January 8, 1997
  • Connection to Kansas: Born in Lawrence

Achievement:

Paul Endacott learned the game of basketball at the Lawrence YMCA from the inventor of the game, Dr. James Naismith. Known for his defense he became and All-State player in high school and then excelled at the University of Kansas. At KU he was a three-time All-Conference selection, two-time All-American, was named the Helms Athletic Foundation College Basketball Player of the Year in 1923, and helped lead the Jayhawks to back-to-back national championships. His #12 jersey was retired. He is a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, the KU Athletics Hall of Fame, and the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.

Paul Endacott image
Paul Endacott
Photo courtesy of the University of Kansas

Howard Engleman

  • Born: November 20, 1919
  • Died: January 12, 2011
  • Connection to Kansas: Raised in Arkansas City

Achievement:

Knicknamed "The Rope," Howard Engleman was a star at the University of Kansas. He led the Jayhawks in scoring for two years and had the highest points per game average ever by a Jayhawk at the time he graduated. He was a three-time All-Conference selection, an All-American, and led the Kansas to the 1940 national championship game. His #5 jersey was retired. He is a member of the KU Athletics Hall of Fame and the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.

Howard Engleman image
Howard Engleman
Photo courtesy of The Wichita Eagle

Ray Evans

  • Born: September 22, 1922
  • Died: April 24, 1999
  • Connection to Kansas: Born in Kansas City

Achievement:

Ray Evans was considered to be one of the greatest athletes to ever play at the University of Kansas. A four sport athlete, he starred as a member of the Jayhawk basketball team leading them to two conference championships. He was named a two-time All-Conference player, two-time All-American, and had his #15 jersey retired. He is a member of the KU Athletics Hall of Fame and the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.

See also under Football.

Ray Evans image
Ray Evans
Photo courtesy of KU Athletics

Dick Knostman

  • Born: August 9, 1931
  • Died:
  • Connection to Kansas: Born in Wamego

Achievement:

Dick Knostman was an All-State player in high school who went on to star at Kansas State University. While at K-State he was a two-time All-Conference selection, two-time All-American and helped lead the Wildcats to the 1951 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Championship game. He still ranks in the top five in several single-game and career categories and had his #33 jersey retired. He is a member of the K-State Athletics Hall of Fame and the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.

Dick Knostman image
Dick Knostman
Photo courtesy of The Wichita Eagle

Lon Kruger

  • Born: August 19, 1952
  • Died:
  • Connection to Kansas: Born in Silver Lake

Achievement:

A three-sport star in high school, Lon Kruger was an All-State player who went on to become one of the greatest players in Kansas State University history. He led K-State to back-to-back conference championships, was name the Big 8 Conference Sophomore of the Year in 1972, and then was named the conference Player of the Year in 1973 and 1974. His #12 jersey was retired by K-State. He is a member of the K-State Athletics Hall of Fame and the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.

See also under Coaches.

Lon Kruger image
Lon Kruger
Photo courtesy of the Wichita Eagle

Cleo Littleton

  • Born: December 31, 1932
  • Died:
  • Connection to Kansas: Graduated high school in Wichita

Achievement:

Cleo Littleton was one of the best players ever to play at Wichita State University and was the first African-American player in the Missouri Valley Conference and the first player west of the Mississippi River to score 2,000 career points. He was a four-time All-Conference player, a two-time All-American, and still holds the career scoring record at Wichita State. His #13 jersey was retired. He is a member of the Wichita State Athletic Hall of Fame and the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.

Cleo Littleton image
Cleo Littleton
Photo courtesy of Wichita State University

Danny Manning

  • Born: May 17, 1966
  • Died:
  • Connection to Kansas: Graduated high school in Lawrence

Achievement:

Danny Manning was the Kansas Player of the Year his senior year of high school and went of to become one of the greatest basketball players ever at the University of Kansas. He was a three-time conference Player of the Year, a three-time All-American, and was named National Player of the Year and National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Final Four Most Outstanding Player in 1988 when he led the Jayhawks to the NCAA National Championship victory. He is Kansas' all-time leader in points (2,951), rebounds (1,187), and had his #25 jersey retired. He was drafted with the first overall pick in the 1988 National Basketball Association (NBA) draft by the Los Angeles Clippers and played 15 seasons with the Clippers, Atlanta Hawks, Phoenix Suns, Milwaukee Bucks, Utah Jazz, Dallas Mavericks, and Detroit Pistons and was a twice named an All-Star. He is a member of the College Basketball Hall of Fame, the KU Athletics Hall of Fame, and the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.

See also under Olympic Athletes.

Danny Manning image
Danny Manning
Photo by Bill Trocchi/US Presswire

Nicole Ohlde

  • Born: March 13, 1982
  • Died:
  • Connection to Kansas: Born in Clay Center

Achievement:

Nicole Ohlde was one of the most decorated players ever produced in Kansas as she was a three-time All-State and a high school All-American. She then starred at Kansas State University where she was a four-time All-Conference selection, Big XII Conference Freshman of the Year, two-time Big XII Conference Player of the Year, 2004 Big XII Conference Female Athlete of the Year, two-time All-American, and a finalist for the Wade Trophy, the Naismith Player of the Year, and the Senior CLASS Award. She set six K-State records including finishing her career with the most points (2161), rebounds (970), and blocked shots (201) in school history, and had her #3 jersey retired. She was drafted in the first round of the 2004 Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) draft by the Minnesota Lynx and played seven seasons with the Lynx, Phoenix Mercury, and Tulsa Shock. She is a member of the K-State Athletics Hall of Fame and the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.

Nicole Ohlde image
Nicole Ohlde
Photo courtesy of big12sports.com

Ruth Riley

  • Born: August 28, 1979
  • Died:
  • Connection to Kansas: Born in Ransom

Achievement:

Ruth Riley was a very accomplished player while she attended the University of Notre Dame and led Notre Dame to a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I national championship in 2001. She was a two-time All-American, three-time All-Conference selection, three-time Big East Conference Defensive Player of the Year, Big East Conference Player of the Year, NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player, and Naismith Player of the Year. She was drafted in the first round of the 2001 Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) draft by the Miami Sol and played 14 seasons with the Sol, Detroit Shock, San Antonio Silver Stars, Chicago Sky, and Atlanta Dream. She was named a WNBA All-Star, helped lead the Shock to two WNBA championships, and was named WNBA Finals Most Valuable Player.

See also under Olympic Athletes.

Ruth Riley image
Ruth Riley
Photo courtesy of Ruth Riley

Ernest Schmidt

  • Born: February 12, 1911
  • Died: September 6, 1986
  • Connection to Kansas: Born in Nashville

Achievement:

Nicknamed "One-Grand," because he scored exactly 1,000 points playing at Pittsburg State University, Ernest Schmidt was a four-time All-Conference player for the Gorillas and also named an All-American. He helped lead Pittsburg State to a 47-game winning streak and four straight conference titles in the 1930s and stood as the longest winning streak by a team until 1956. He is a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, the Pittsburg State Athletic Hall of Fame and the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.

Ernest Schmidt image
Ernest Schmidt
Photo courtesy of The Wichita Eagle

Wayne Simien

  • Born: March 9, 1983
  • Died:
  • Connection to Kansas: Born in Leavenworth

Achievement:

Wayne Simien was a talented high school athlete who earned All-State honors, was named Mr. Kansas Basketball and Kansas Player of the Year, and was also a high school All-American. He went on to play at the University of Kansas where he was a two-time All-Conference selection, the 2005 Big XII Conference Player of the Year, a two-time All-American, a finalist for the Wooden Award and the Naismith Player of the Year Award, and winner of the Lowes Senior CLASS Award. KU retired his #23 jersey. He was drafted in the first round of the 2005 National Basketball Association (NBA) draft by the Miami Heat and played three seasons with the Heat where he won an NBA Championship. He is a member of the KU Athletics Hall of Fame and the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.

Wayne Simien image
Wayne Simien
Photo by L.C. Patterson/AP

Jackie Stiles

  • Born: December 21, 1978
  • Died:
  • Connection to Kansas: Born in Kansas City, raised in Claflin

Achievement:

Jackie Stiles was one of the greatest basketball players in Kansas high school history. She was a high school All-American and holds the Kansas record, male or female, for most points scored in a game (71), most points scored in a season (1,252) and most points scored in a career (3,603). She didn't stop at high school though. She played at Missouri State University where she was a three-time All-American and set the National Collegiate Athletic Associaion (NCAA) Division I record for points in a season (1,062) and points in a career (3,393) and is second in career points in women's Division I basketball history behind Lynette Woodard. Her #10 jersey was retired by Missouri State. She was drafted in the first round of the 2001 Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) draft by the Portland Fire and played in the WNBA from 2001 to 2002 with the Fire and Los Angeles Sparks before injuries forced her to retire. She was the WNBA Rookie of the Year in 2001. She is a member of the Missouri State Athletics Hall of Fame, the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame and the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.

Jackie Stiles image
Jackie Stiles
Photo by Dave Weaver/AP

Darnell Valentine

  • Born: February 3, 1959
  • Died:
  • Connection to Kansas: Graduated high school in Wichita

Achievement:

Darnell Valentine was an All-State player on one of the best high school teams in Kansas history that resulted in a state championship and being named a high school All-American. He went on to play at the University of Kansas where he was a four-time All-Conference selection, an All-American, a three-time Academic All-American and selected to play on the 1980 U.S. Olympic basketball team. He finished his career as KU's second all-time leading scorer and had is #14 jersey retired. He was selected in the first round of the 1981 National Basketball Association (NBA) draft by the Portland Trail Blazers and played 10 seasons with the Trail Blazers, Los Angeles Clippers and Cleveland Cavaliers. He is a member of the KU Athletics Hall of Fame and the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.

Darnell Valentine image
Darnell Valentine
Photo courtesy of the AP

Kendra Wecker

  • Born: December 16, 1982
  • Died:
  • Connection to Kansas:Born in Marysville

Achievement:

Kendra Wecker was an outstanding athlete in high school as was All-State in three different sports, set a national high school record in the javelin throw, and was a high school All-American in basketball. She had a prolific career at Kansas State University where she was a three-time All-Conference selection, 2005 Big XII Conference Player of the Year, two-time All-American, three-time Naismith Player of the Year finalist, two-time Wade Trophy and Wooden Award finalist, and name the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award winner. She finished her career as K-State's all-time leading scorer (2,333) and rebounder (1,087). Her #53 jersey was retired. She was drafted in the first round of the 2005 Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) draft by the San Antonio Silver Stars and played four seasons with the Silver Stars and Washington Mystics. She is a member of the K-State Athletics Hall of Fame and the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.

Kendra Wecker image
Kendra Wecker
Photo courtesy of K-State Sports Information

Lynette Woodard

  • Born: August 12, 1959
  • Died:
  • Connection to Kansas: Born in Wichita

Achievement:

Lynette Woodard is considered to be one of the greatest female basketball players of all time. She was a high school All-American who led her team to two state championships and then took her talents to the University of Kansas where she was a four-time All-American and led the Jayhawks to three conference titles. She was a prolific scorer at Kansas and holds the record for most career points in women's Division I basketball history (3,649) and was the first KU woman to have her jersey retired. After college she was a two-time olympian, was the first female member of the Harlem Globetrotters, played professionally in Italy and Japan, and played two seasons in the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) for the Cleveland Rockers and Detroit Shock. She is a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame, the KU Athletics Hall of Fame, and the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame. She was named Kansan of the Year in 2004 by the Native Sons and Daughters of Kansas.

See also under Olympic Athletes.

Lynette Woodard image
Lynette Woodard
Photo courtesy of the Harlem Globetrotters

Football

James Bausch

  • Born: March 29, 1906
  • Died: July 9, 1974
  • Connection to Kansas: Raised in Garden Plain

Achievement:

Nicknamed "Jarrin' Jim," James Bausch was a versitle player for the University of Kansas, playing fullback, kicker, punter, and also on defense. He was a two-time All-Conference selection, an All-American, and led the Jayhawks to a conference championship. Aside from football he was also a standout basketball and track and field athlete. He is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame, the National Track and Field Hall of Fame, the KU Athletics Hall of Fame and the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.

See also under Olympic Athletes.

James Bausch image
James Bausch
Photo courtesy of the University of Kansas

Mike Bell

  • Born: August 30, 1957
  • Died:
  • Connection to Kansas: Born in Wichita

Achievement:

A ferocious defensive lineman, Mike Bell was a standout player in high school who went on to star at Colorado State University. While at Colorado State he was a two-time All-Conference selection, a two-time All-American and finished second in the voting for the Outland Trophy. He was selected in the first round of the 1979 National Football League (NFL) draft by the Kansas City Chiefs and played 12 seasons with the Chiefs. He is a member of the Colorado State Athletics Hall of Fame and the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.

Mike Bell image
Mike Bell
Photo courtesy of Colorado State University

Nolan Cromwell

  • Born: January 30, 1955
  • Died:
  • Connection to Kansas: Born in Smith Center, raised in Ransom

Achievement:

Known as the "Ransom Rambler," Nolan Cromwell was an All-State high school player who went on to play safety and quarterback at the University of Kansas. He played his first two years at KU at the safety position then switched to quarterback for his last two where he was named All-Conference, Big 8 Offensive Player of the Year, and an All-American. He was drafted in the second round of the 1977 National Football League (NFL) draft by the Los Angeles Rams and played the saftey position for 11 seasons with the Rams. He was named All-Pro four times, selected to four Pro Bowls, and named National Football Conference (NFC) Defensive Player of the Year. He is a member of the KU Athletics Hall of Fame, the KU Football Ring of Honor, and the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.

Nolan Cromwell image
Nolan Cromwell
Photo by Corky Trewin

Bobby Douglass

  • Born: June 22, 1947
  • Died:
  • Connection to Kansas: Born in Manhattan, raised in El Dorado

Achievement:

Bobby Douglass was an All-State quarterback who went on to be the star quarterback at the University of Kansas. He was a two-time All-Conference player and was named an All-American. He was drafted in the first round of the 1968 National Football League (NFL) draft by the Chicago Bears and played ten seasons with the Bears, San Diego Chargers, New Orleans Saints, and Green Bay Packers. He set the NFL record for most rushing yards in a season by a quarterback which stood for nearly 35 years. He is a member of the KU Athletics Hall of Fame, the KU Football Ring of Honor, and the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.

Bobby Douglass image
Bobby Douglass
Photo courtesy of KU Athletics

Ray Evans

  • Born: September 22, 1922
  • Died: April 24, 1999
  • Connection to Kansas: Born in Kansas City

Achievement:

As good as Ray Evans was on the basketball court, he was perhaps an even better athlete on the football field. Playing quarterback and defensive back he led the Jayhawks to two conference championships, was an three-time All-Conference player, and an KU's first All-American. He is the only person to lead the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in passing (playing offense) and interceptions (playing defense) in the same season and still holds the KU record for most interceptions in a season (10) and a career (17). His #42 jersery was retired and he is the only KU athlete to have a retired number in multiple sports. He played one season in the National Football League (NFL) with the Pittsburgh Stellers. He is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame, the KU Athletics Hall of Fame, the KU Football Ring of Honor, and the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.

See also under Basketball.

Ray Evans image
Ray Evans
Photo courtesy of the National Football Foundation

John Hadl

  • Born: February 15, 1940
  • Died:
  • Connection to Kansas: Born in Lawrence

Achievement:

Regarded as one of the best all-around players ever to play college football, John Hadl was an All-State running back who starred at the University of Kansas as a running back, quarterback, defensive back, punter and punt returner. He was a three-time All-Conference selection and a two-time All-American, was the Most Valuable Player of both the East-West Shrine Game and the College All-Star Game, still holds the KU records for longest interception return for a touchdown (98 yards) and longest punt (94 yards), and had his #21 jersey retired. He was selected in the third round of the 1962 American Football League (AFL) draft by the San Diego Chargers and played 16 seasons with the Chargers, Los Angeles Rams, Green Bay Packers, and Houston Oilers. He was a three-time All Pro and selected to four AFL All-Star games and two Pro Bowls. He is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame, the San Diego Chargers Hall of Fame, the KU Athletics Hall of Fame, the KU Football Ring of Honor, and the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.

John Hadl image
John Hadl
Photo courtesy of the Lawrence Journal-World

Terence Newman

  • Born: September 4, 1978
  • Died:
  • Connection to Kansas: Born in Salina

Achievement:

Terence Newman was an All-State player in high school and later played cornerback at Kansas State University. He was a two-time All-Conference player, Big 12 Conference Defensive Player of the Year, an All-American, and the Jim Thorpe Award winner given annually to the top defensive back in college football. He was drafted in the first round of the 2003 National Football League (NFL) draft by the Dallas Cowboys and has played 15 seasons to date with the Cowboys, Cincinnati Bengals, and Minnesota Vikings being selected to the Pro Bowl twice. He is a member of the K-State Football Ring of Honor.

Terence Newman image
Terence Newman
Photo by Peter Aiken

Barry Sanders

  • Born: July 16, 1968
  • Died:
  • Connection to Kansas: Born in Wichita

Achievement:

Barry Sanders was a two-time All-American running back and kick returner at Oklahoma State University and is owner of what has been called "the greatest individual season in college football history." During the 1988 season he set National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) records for rushing yards in a season (2,628), rushing yards average per game (238), and touchdowns in a season (37), all of which still stand today. As a result of his impressive season he won the Heisman Memorial Trophy, the Maxwell Award, and the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award. He is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame, the Oklahoma State University Hall of Fame, the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame and the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.

See also under Professional Athletes.

Barry Sander image
Barry Sanders
Photo by Ron Hart/Tulsa World

Otto Schnellbacher

  • Born: April 15, 1923
  • Died: March 10, 2008
  • Connection to Kansas: Born in Sublette

Achievement:

Nicknamed "The Double Threat from Sublette," Otto Schnellbacher was a two sport star at the University of Kansas. In football he played receiver and defensive end and was a two-time All-Conference player and was named an All-American. He also played basketball where he was a four-time All-Conference selection. He played one season in the National Basketball Association (NBA) with the St. Louis Bombers and the Providence Steamrollers. He then played two seasons in the National Football League (NFL) with the New York Giants where he was a two-time All-Pro and selected to two Pro Bowls. He is a member of the KU Athletics Hall of Fame, the KU Football Ring of Honor, and the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.

Otto Schnellbacher image
Otto Schnellbacher
Photo courtesy of KU Athletics

Brian Shay

  • Born: February 22, 1977
  • Died:
  • Connection to Kansas: Born in Paola

Achievement:

Brian Shay was perhaps the best player ever to play at Emporia State University. He was a three-time All-American running back who set 17 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II records and ended his career as the all-time leading rushing in college football history across all division levels. He won the 1998 Harlon Hill Trophy which signified the top player in NCAA Division II. He is a member of the Emporia State Athletics Hall of Fame, the MIAA Hall of Fame, and the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.

Brian Shay image
Brian Shay
Photo courtesy of Emporia State University

Mark Simoneau

  • Born: January 16, 1977
  • Died:
  • Connection to Kansas: Born in Phillipsburg, raised in Smith Center

Achievement:

Mark Simoneau was an All-State running back and linebacker in high school who played at Kansas State University and was a three-time All-Conference linebacker, an All-American, Big 12 Conference Defensive Player of Year, and was runner-up for the Butkus Award given annually to the top linebacker in college football. He was drafted in the third round of the 2000 National Football League (NFL) draft by the Atlanta Falcons and played ten seasons with the Falcons, Philadelphia Eagles, New Orleans Saints, and Kansas City Chiefs. He is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame, the K-State Football Ring of Honor, and the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.

Mark Simoneau image
Mark Simoneau
Photo courtesy of K-State Sports Information

Gary Spani

  • Born: January 9, 1956
  • Died:
  • Connection to Kansas: Born in Satanta

Achievement:

Gary Spani was one of the greatest football players ever produced in Kansas. He played linebacker at Kansas State University where he was a three-time All-Conference player, named Big 8 Defensive Player of the Year, and was a two-time All-American. He still holds the record for most career tackles (543). He was drafted in the third round of the 1978 National Football League (NFL) draft by the Kansas City Chiefs and played nine seasons with the Chiefs. He holds the Chiefs' record for tackles in a career (999). He is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame, the K-State Athletics Hall of Fame, the K-State Football Ring of Honor, the Kansas City Chiefs Hall of Fame, and the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.

Gary Spani image
Gary Spani
Photo courtesy of K-State Sports Information

Darren Sproles

  • Born: June 20, 1983
  • Died:
  • Connection to Kansas: Raised in Olathe

Achievement:

Darren Sproles was an All-State and high school All-American running back who played at Kansas State University and became the most prolific running back in school history. He was a three- time All-Conference selection, Big 12 Conference Offensive Player of the Year, and an All- American. He set 23 school records including most rushing yards in a game (292), in a season (1,986), and a career (4,979). He was drafted in the fourth round if the 2005 National Football League (NFL) draft by the San Diego Chargers and has played 13 seasons to date with the Chargers, New Orleans Saints, and Philadelphia Eagles. He holds the NFL record for most all-purpose yards in a season (2,696), has been an All-Pro, and selected to the Pro Bowl. He is a member of the K-State Football Ring of Honor.

Darren Sproles image
Darren Sproles
Photo by Pete Aiken

Veryl Switzer

  • Born: August 6, 1932
  • Died:
  • Connection to Kansas: Born in Nicodemus

Achievement:

Veryl Switzer was a standout running back and defensive back at Kansas State University in the early 1950s. He was a three-time All-Conference selection as well as a three-time All-American. He was drafted in the first round of the 1954 National Football League (NFL) draft by the Green Bay Packers and played two seasons with the Packers and later three seasons in the Canadian Football League (CFL) with the Calgary Stampeders and Montreal Alouettes. He is a member of the K-State Athletics Hall of Fame, the K-State Football Ring of Honor, and the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.

Veryl Switzer image
Veryl Switzer
Photo courtesy of K-State Sports Information

John Zook

  • Born: September 24, 1947
  • Died:
  • Connection to Kansas: Born in Garden City

Achievement:

John Zook was an All-State player who became a top notch defensive lineman at the University of Kansas. He was a two-time All-Conference selection and a two-time All-American who finished his career as one of the top defensive linemen in KU history. He was drafted in the fourth round of the 1969 National Football League (NFL) draft by the Los Angeles Rams and played 12 seasons for the Atlanta Falcons and St. Louis Cardinals. He is a member of the KU Athletics Hall of Fame, the KU Football Ring of Honor, and the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.

John Zook image
John Zook
Photo courtesy of The Wichita Eagle

Softball

Lisa Carey

  • Born: February 26, 1978
  • Died:
  • Connection to Kansas: Born in Topeka

Achievement:

Lisa Carey was a four-time all-city player and a high school All-American who went on to star as a shortstop/first baseman at the University of Oklahoma. At Oklahoma she was a three-time All-Conference selection, a three-time All-American, was the 2000 Big 12 Conference Player of the Year and help lead the Sooners to a conference championship and the 2000 national championship. She is a member of the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.

Lisa Carey image
Lisa Carey
Photo courtesy of The Wichita Eagle