LINCOLN — Nebraska might have struggled before Bob Devaney took over its football program, but Devaney arrived in 1962 from Wyoming to find that the cupboard was anything but bare.
Among those on the Huskers’ roster was Larry Kramer, a good-sized offensive tackle from Austin, Minn.
Tom Osborne saw the potential, even though he was just a first-year graduate assistant and Kramer was a raw sophomore. Kramer was consistent and strong and a good athlete.
“He was really a good player, and became a great offensive lineman for us,” Osborne said.
Kramer, 71, died last weekend, having fought declining health in recent years after being diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Funeral services will be Saturday in Emporia, Kan.
Kramer was part of Husker offensive lines in 1962 and 1963 that included future NFL players Bob Brown, Lloyd Voss and John Kirby. The 1963 team led the nation in rushing.
Kramer then was a unanimous All-American in 1964 — and was voted into the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame in 1987.
“I do know this: When Bob came there with his staff, they were really pleasantly surprised with the talent,” Osborne said. “And Larry was one of those guys.”
Shortly after leaving NU, Kramer launched a successful coaching career that started in 1966 at McCook Junior College and ended in 1997 after three seasons on Bill Snyder’s staff at Kansas State.
In between, Kramer was head coach at Southern Oregon (1970-72), Austin College (1973-82) and Emporia State (1983-94). Snyder served as an assistant to Kramer at Austin College in 1974 and ’75.
Kramer led Austin to an NAIA Division II national championship in 1981. He was then voted NAIA coach of the year in 1989 after taking Emporia State to the national title game.
“He certainly did well in his career,” Osborne said.
A memorial service is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday at First United Methodist Church in Emporia. A celebration of Coach Kramer will follow at the Trusler Sports Complex on the Emporia State campus.