Mike Prokopiak's kick was like money in the bank for the 1952 Lobo football team. A 215-pound quarterback and specialty placekicker, Prokopiak played on Dudley DeGroot's squad that was acclaimed "the best defensive team in the U.S." by the wire services.
While UNM had a tremendous defensive unit in '52, the offense could muster only 119 points in nine games with Prokopiak's golden toe accounting for a team-leading 24 of those. In three games, he made a major or crucial difference: a 14-13 win over Texas Western; 15-0 against Denver and a 3-0 decision against Colorado State.
After receiving his bachelor's degree from UNM in 1953, Prokopiak signed an NFL contract with the St. Louis Cardinals. He booted two field goals before being called to duty for the U.S. Air Force in the middle of the '53 season.
His Air Force career, both in the U.S. and Europe, was devoted to coordination and development of athletic programs at 50 bases in Germany, following duty at White Sands Proving Grounds. Prokopiak, on lend-lease from the Air Force, coached Turkey's Olympic basketball team in 1957 before returning to Germany. Prokopiak was discharged from Holloman AFB in 1971 with the rank of Major.
Prokopiak has remained active in his support of Lobo athletics, serving on the UNM Alumni Lettermen's board and the Hall of Honor Selection Committee.