Kansas Football Great John Zook Passes Away at 72

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(Courtesy of Kansas Athletics)

LAWRENCE, Kan. — Kansas football legend John Zook passed away at the age of 72, on Saturday, after a battle with cancer.

Zook was a member of the Jayhawks’ football team from 1966-68, where he played defensive end. A three-year letterman, two-time All-Big Eight Conference selection and team captain in 1968, Zook anchored one of the top defensive units in Kansas football history.

Zook earned All-America honors in 1968 as the defensive standout on a Kansas team who finished with a 9-2 record, shared the conference championship and faced Penn State in the Orange Bowl. The Jayhawks were ranked sixth nationally in the final Associated Press poll during Zook’s senior season. He finished his career with 202 total tackles, which ranks as the fourth-best mark among defensive linemen in school history.

Following his senior season, Zook played in both the Coaches All-American Game and the Senior Bowl. He is one of 23 players honored on the Kansas football Ring of Honor in David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium, and was inducted into the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame in 2007.

Following his career at KU, Zook was selected in the fourth-round of the 1969 National Football League (NFL) Draft by the Los Angeles Rams. Zook went on to play seven seasons with the Atlanta Falcons and was selected to represent the NFC Pro Bowl team in 1973. Zook later played four seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals, before retiring in 1979.

After his football days, Zook spent his retirement back home in Wichita, Kansas, and remained close to his three brothers and a big collection of nieces and nephews. His younger brother Dean Zook testified to John’s love of hunting and of working around the family farm.