Honors & Awards
- University of Nebraska Graduate (May, 1999)
- Member of Three Nebraska National Championship Teams (1994, 1995, 1997)
- Honorable-Mention All-Big 12 (Coaches, 1998)
Kenny Cheatham was one of the most gifted receivers, and counted on as an impact player, during his time as a Husker. While Shevin Wiggins' foot and Matt Davison's diving touchdown catch are remembered most for the game-tying drive against Missouri in 1997, if it wasn't for Cheatham's three receptions for 42 yards on that drive the play may have never happened. Cheatham finished his career with 38 receptions for 482 yards and two touchdowns. He aided Nebraska to three national championships in four years.
Cheatham played in nine games, starting seven (against Louisiana Tech, UAB, California, Oklahoma State, Iowa State, Kansas State and Colorado), and alternated with sophomore split end Matt Davison. Cheatham tied I-back Correll Buckhalter for the fourth most receptions on the team with 13 and gained 155 yards on those catches for an average of 11.9 yards per reception and 17.2 yards per game. His lone touchdown came on a career-long 45-yard reception against Kansas State. Cheatham was also a member of the No. 2 kickoff return team. Cheatham played in the 1998 Holiday Bowl against Arizona and recorded two receptions for 16 yards.
Bothered by injuries for much of the season, Cheatham sat out the first game against Akron with an ankle sprain, missed game seven against Kansas and the last game of the season against Texas A&M with a pulled quad muscle. He played in nine games and started four (against Central Florida, Washington, Missouri and Colorado) at split end, alternating with senior Jeff Lake. Despite the limited action, Cheatham tied I-back Ahman Green for the team lead with 14 catches. Cheatham was third in receiving yards with 191 and averaged 13.6 per catch. He didn't have any touchdown receptions, but caught a season-long 31 yarder against Colorado. On Nebraska's 10-play, 67-yard game-tying touchdown drive that began at the 1:02 mark of regulation against Missouri, Cheatham caught three passes from Scott Frost for 42 yards. In the game, he had a career-best 5-54. Cheatham was also a member of the No. 2 kickoff return team and had one return for 23 yards against Kansas State. Cheatham played in the 1998 FedEx Orange Bowl against Tennessee, but did not have any catches.
Cheatham played in every game in 1996, alternating with Jeff Lake at split end behind starter Brendan Holbein. He earned his first career start against Arizona State when Nebraska opened in split formation. Cheatham caught seven passes for 105 yards in 1996, including a 30-yard touchdown from Matt Turman in the season opener against Michigan State. He tied his season best with two catches for 19 yards against Baylor and had a season-best 34 yards (on one reception) against Kansas. Cheatham also had three punt returns for seven yards and two kickoff returns for 100 yards, including an 85-yard score in the fourth quarter against Oklahoma. That touchdown marked the first time the Huskers had scored on a kickoff return in six years. In the 1996 Orange Bowl against Virginia Tech, Cheatham caught one pass for 23 yards and returned two kickoffs for 43 yards (1-20, 1-23).
Cheatham played in the first five games and caught four passes for 31 yards. His long receptions were 10 yards against both Arizona State and Pacific. Against the Pacific Tigers, he caught a season-best two passes for 19 yards. He suffered a shoulder separation and missed the last six regular-season games as well as the 1996 Fiesta Bowl against Florida.
A scholarship athlete, Cheatham redshirted his first year.
Before Nebraska (South Mountain High School)
Cheatham committed to Nebraska after contemplating football scholarships from Arizona State and UCLA. His decision was difficult because he also had track scholarship offers from several schools, including UCLA, Auburn, LSU, Tennessee, Miami and Florida State and had been contacted about playing basketball for Kansas, Ohio State, Georgetown, Arizona State, Arizona, UCLA and Oregon State. Playing for Coach Cleveland Dansby at South Mountain, Cheatham made 31 catches for 929 yards and 18 touchdowns in his senior season to earn all-state honors. His 29 yards per catch ranked fourth best in Arizona prep history. South Mountain captured back-to-back state titles in 1991 and 1992. An Arizona Republic Super-State selection, he was listed on recruiting analyst Tom Lemming's All-West team. Cheatham was the Arizona state champion in the 200 meters in 1993 and 1994 (21.40 best) and was second in the 100 (10.91), with a 10.57 all-time best. He was a two-time all-state basketball player, as he averaged 21 points per game for South Mountain and led the team to the state quarterfinals in 5A (largest class) as a senior.
Born on Aug. 11, 1976, his parents are Chester and Marilyn Cheatham. Kenny majored in communication studies and earned his bachelor's degree from Nebraska in May of 1999.
Cheatham's Career Statistics
Kickoff Returns: 2-56-0 in 1995, 2-100-1 (85-yard TD vs. OU) in 1996; 1-23 in 1997; 5-179-1 (35.8 ypr) total.
Punt Returns: 8-102-0 in 1995; 3-7-0 in 1996; 11-109-0 (9.9 ypr) total.
1996 Orange Bowl vs. Virginia Tech: Receiving 1-23, Kickoff Returns 2-43 (23 long)
1998 Orange Bowl vs. Tennessee: Receiving, None
1998 Holiday Bowl vs. Arizona: Receiving 2-16