Kenneth “Ki-Jana” Carter played running back for Penn State in the mid-90s, and helped propel the Nittany Lions to their most recent undefeated season in 1994. After getting just 42 carries as a freshman in 1992, when the Lions went just 7-5 and finished the season unranked, Ki-Jana took over the #1 role in 1993 to the tune of 155 carries, 1,026 yards, and seven touchdowns. The season was capped off by a 31-13 upset win over #6 Tennessee in the Florida Citrus Bowl.
For his swan song, Carter would team up with Kerry Collins, Bobby Engram, Kyle Brady, and Joe Jurevicius to put together one of the most dominant offenses college football has ever seen. The Lions started the season #9, and notched wins over #14 USC, #5 Michigan, and #21 Ohio State throughout the regular season. A 38-20 Rose Bowl win over #12 Oregon capped the remarkable season, throughout which Ki-Jana chipped in 198 carries, 1,539 yards, and 23 touchdowns. In the Rose Bowl alone, Carter rushed for 156 yards and three touchdowns, earning co-MVP honors.
Ki-Jana left after that Rose Bowl, and was taken by the Bengals in the 1995 NFL Draft. Often considered a bust at the next level, Carter was beset by injuries throughout his professional career, beginning with a torn ACL in the first preseason game of his rookie year. After stints in Cincinnati, Washington, Green Bay, and New Orleans, Ki-Jana hung up his cleats in 2004. Many Penn State faithful will wonder what could have been if he’d stayed healthy, but they’ll always have that magical 1994 season to remember fondly.
Only 32 days to go!