Otto Schnellbacher, one of the greatest athletes in University of Kansas history, passed away on Monday, March 10. He was 84 years old.
Schnellbacher was a football and basketball standout at Kansas before playing both sports professionally. Known as the "Double Threat from Sublette" he was an All-America football selection in 1947 as a wide receiver, helping the Jayhawks to an 8-1-2 record, a share of the Big Six Championship and a trip to the Orange Bowl.
Schnellbacher and Ray Evans were the first Jayhawks to be tabbed football All-Americans in 1947. Schnellbacher was a two-time all-Big Six selection on the gridiron; he finished his career with 58 receptions for 1,069 yards. Those numbers stood as KU records for 22 years.
He lettered in football at Kansas in 1942, 46 and 47, serving as a co-captain his senior year. He also served as a team captain in basketball, and is one of just three KU athletes ever to captain both teams.
In basketball, Schnellbacher was a four-time all-conference selection, one of just three players in KU history to accomplish that feat (Charlie Black, 1942-43, 46-47 and Darnell Valentine, 1978-81). He averaged 9.7 points per game as a sophomore, 11.2 as a junior and a team-best 12.8 as a senior under head coach Phog Allen.
He was drafted by the Chicago Cardinals of the NFL in 1947 and by the New York Yankees of the All America Football Conference in 1948. He played with the Yankees in 1948 and 1949.
Schnellbacher then joined the New York Giants of the NFL in 1950 and 1951, earning All-Pro honors as a defensive back both seasons. He led the NFL in interceptions with 11 in 1951. He finished his four-year professional football career with 34 interceptions, including 19 with the Giants.
Schnellbacher spent the 1948-49 season in the NBA with the St. Louis Bombers and the Providence Steamrollers.
He has been inducted into the State of Kansas Sports Hall of Fame, and the University of Kansas Ring of Honor and Hall of Fame.
The 6-4 Schnellbacher was born April 15, 1923 in Sublette, Kan.
Thursday, March 14 - visitation - 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm - Most Pure Heart of Mary Church - 1800 SW Stone, Topeka, KS 66604
(rosary will be recited at 8:00 pm)
Friday, March 15 - funeral - 2:00 pm - Most Pure Heart of Mary Church - 1800 SW Stone, Topeka, KS 66604