Former Iowa football player recalls Hawkeye life in Evashevski years

Jeff Langston reflects on Iowa’s football during one of its most successful times.


Former Iowa player Jeff Langston recalls long wanting to be a Hawkeye.

Growing up in Cedar Rapids, he and his family moved to Iowa City when he was 12. A few years later, he began playing football for City High.

“The driving force for me was to be a Hawkeye and to play football,” Langston said. “It consumed me completely.”

His dream was realized when he was recruited by Iowa in 1955, and he played left end. As a sophomore in 1956, his team won the Big Ten under coach Forest Evashevski.

“It was the beginning of Evashevski’s rise,” Langston said.

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Disaster struck at age 19, when Langston was involved in a car accident. The incident resulted in a full year off from playing football in order to rehabilitate. But against the odds, he returned the following year to play in the 1958 season.

“I was just fortunate to be here,” Langston said. “Our 1958 team had the best season in the history of Iowa football. We were voted No. 1 in the nation that year, the only time that Iowa was voted No. 1.”

He cites the strong offense, including the talented running backs, ends, linemen, quarterbacks, and more as the key to success. “I was not a star of this team. I was a member of this team,” he said.

Langston recalls his team as a community. As a contributor in the book, What it Means to be a Hawkeye, he said, “Being on the team was its own reward.”

Langston and his 1958 team won the Big Ten and continued on to the Rose Bowl in 1959. He caught a touchdown pass in the second quarter of that historic game, after he was flipped on his head by a California player.

According to Langston’s friend Daryl James, the play was captured by a dramatic photo of him catching the ball upside down in the end zone. The caption read, “Even if it’s upside down, it counts.”

After college, Langston worked in finance and banking. He spent several years on Wall Street and continues to work at age 80. He now lives in Charlottesville, Virginia.

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Langston is collaborating with James, a published writer, and University of Iowa administrator David Gould on a book about his years as a Hawkeye player. The book focuses on Langston’s life and Iowa’s football program during the Evashevski years.

“I found a similar [breed] of somebody who cared about sharing his story with others,” Gould said. Gould, an administrator at the Belin-Blank Center, is mentoring Langston with his book.

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