schnellbacher otto

Otto Schnellbacher

  • Standout football and basketball player at KU
  • Played one season in the NBA
  • All-Pro defensive back for the New York Giants in 1950 and 1951
  • Inducted into the University of Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.
Schnellbacher, Otto
Inducted 1972

Born: April 15, 1923 – Sublette, Kansas

Died: March 10, 2008 – Lawrence, KS

Graduated: Sublette (KS) H.S., 1941; University of Kansas, 1948


Otto Schnellbacher is one of the rare athletes in sports history to have played professionally in both the National Football League and the National Basketball Association.

Career at KU

Twice an All-Big Six end (1946 and 1947), he joined teammate Ray Evans on the 1947 All-American football team to become the first Kansas Jayhawks to be named football All-Americans. Schnellbacher finished his playing career as the Jayhawks’ all-time leader in both receptions (58) and receiving yards (1,069). Both marks stood 22 years, until 1969. He was named to the all-time KU football team in a poll of fans in 1969. As a senior, Schnellbacher was co-captain of the 1948 Orange Bowl team at Kansas. As a member of the Kansas University basketball team, Schnellbacher earned first team All-conference honors four times. His career at Kansas was interrupted with a two-year stint in the military during 1944 and 1945.

NBA Career

After graduating from KU, he spent the 1948-49 season in the NBA with the St. Louis Bombers and the Providence Steamrollers before changing sports to play football for the Giants in the NFL.

NFL Career

He went on to become an all-pro defensive back for the New York Giants in 1950 and 1951. He led the NFL in interceptions in 1951 with 11.

Presented by Frank Sabatini