Carpentersville Memories

In Honor and Memory of Mark Peter Kellar

 July 17, 1952 – November 23, 2023


Mark Peter Kellar, age 71, of Minneapolis, passed away peacefully on November 23, 2023.
Survived by daughters, Marcella (Brandon) Ward, Grace Kellar, Meagan Kellar; granddaughter, Audrey; siblings, Dawn Kellar McCoy, Scott (Dana) Kellar; also survived by nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends. Preceded in death by parents, Earl and Gloria Kellar; sister, Sharon Kellar.

Mark Peter Kellar was born on July 17 1952, in Chicago, Illinois USA, and is a retired professional American Football player, best known to play in the National Football League (NFL) as a running back. He was active in the sport from 1974 to 1978.

Kellar earned two varsity letters in football, two in basketball and three in track at Irving Crown High School in Carpentersville, Illinois. He finished third in the state discus throw his senior year. He also earned All-Tri-County Conference honors in all three sports. Kellar was part of the inaugural class of inductees into the Dundee-Crown Athletic Hall of Fame in 2004.

Kellar played for the Northern Illinois Huskies from 1971 to 1973. He led NCAA Division I-A in rushing yards with 1,719 in 1973. He set a school record for career rushing yards with 3,745
and also scored 33 touchdowns. Kellar played in the North-South Shrine Game his senior year in 1973. He was a three-time team co-MVP from 1971 to 1973 and was voted Huskies quad-captain in 1973. Kellar was also named an Honorable Mention All-American by the Associated Press, United Press International, Football News and Kodak during his college career.  He was named to the All-Time Huskie Stadium Team in 1995 and the Huskies’ All-Century Team in 1999. His jersey number 31 has been retired by the Huskies and he was inducted into the Northern Illinois University Athletics Hall of Fame in 1983.

Kellar set the NIU records for career and single season rushing attempts, yards and touchdowns from 1971-73. In a season that featured superstar rushers Tony Dorsett of Pittsburgh, Archie Griffin of Ohio State and Jim Cappelletti of Penn State, it was Kellar who claimed the NCAA Division I-A rushing title with 1,719 yards in 1973 as he averaged 156.3 rushing yards per game. He was named an honorable mention All-American by the Associated Press, United Press International, Football News and Kodak while picking up his third team MVP honor. Kellar was such a force for the Huskies, that his jersey No. 31 was retired during his senior season at NIU.

A 6-0, 232-pound back out of Carpentersville, Illinois, Kellar became the 18th player in major college history to crack the 3,000-yard mark with 3,745 yards on 744 carries and 32 rushing scores while averaging almost 121 rushing yards per game and more than five yards per carry. He posted 19 100-yard rushing games and ran for 200-or-more yards in a game three times while playing in 31 games. As a junior, Kellar gained 1,316 yards to rank sixth among NCAA rushers.

Mark graduated from Northern Illinois University where he played collegiate football as a fullback. Mark led the nation in rushing at NIU in 1973 with 1,179 yards.  He went on to set (then) school-record career 3,745 ground yards, 33 TD’s, and 20 100-yard rushing games. Became the 18th player in major- college history to crack the 3,000 yard career mark. Mark’s nicknames included “Baby Bull” and the “Carpentersville Cruncher”. Mark’s #31 jersey was retired at the end of his senior season and he was inducted into the NIU Hall of Fame in 1983. Mark was drafted by the Chicago Fire and the Minnesota Vikings in the 6th round. Mark chose to play for the Chicago Fire where he set scoring records and most yards gained in a season. After playing for the Fire, Mark played 3 seasons with the Minnesota Vikings where he completed his NFL career.

Mark enjoyed traveling, being on the golf course and playing any card game that was offered. He was always happy to be with his friends and family, especially his daughters.  He was truly a big man with an even bigger heart.

Mark attended Irving Crown High School, and during his time there played several sports, earning two letters in football, two in basketball, and three in track.  He shined at the discus throw, but earned All-Tri County Conference honors in all three sports. After matriculating, he engaged in a college football career playing with the Northern Illinois Huskies from 1971 to 1973. He led the NCAA Division 1-A in rushing yards and set several school records. During his senior year, he was a part of the North-South Shrine Game and was a three time team co-MVP during his time with the Huskies. He was an honorable All-American named by several big publications such as the Associated Press and United Press International.

Kellar joined the 1974 NFL Draft, and was selected during the sixth round by the Minnesota Vikings. He was also selected during the 1974 WFL Draft during the seventh round by the Chicago Fire, with who he played during 1974 and posted good numbers. He then moved to play with the Chicago Winds the following year, continuing to perform well. However, the following year, the team folded and he signed with San Antonio Wings. He played with San Antonio for the remainder for the season, and then in 1976 he moved to the NFL to play with the Minnesota Vikings, where he played a total of 33 games for the team in the span of three years. His net worth continued to rise thanks to this opportunity, but after the 1978 season he decided to retire. During Mark’s playing career, he was named “Carpentersville Cruncher” and “Baby Bull”.

No. 31 concluded his Huskie career with 3,745 ground yards, 743 attempts, 33 TDs, and 20 100-yard rushing games.  At the time, he was only the 18th player in the history of major-college football to crack the career 3,000-yard barrier.

Thanks to his achievements, Mark was inducted into the Northern Illinois University Athletics Hall of Fame in 1983. The Huskies would retire his jersey number.  He was also named to the All-Time Huskie Stadium Team in 1995, and then in 2004 to the inaugural class of the Dundee-Crown Athletic Hall of Fame. He subsequently also made appearances on television, and was a part of the 2013 film “Devil’s Deal”.

For his personal life, it is known that Kellar’s brother Scott also played in the NFL and as part of Northern Illinois University.