John Cappelletti had the third best year in Penn State history when he gained 1,117 yards rushing in 1972. In 1973, he had the second best year in Penn State history rushing for 1,522 yards. In his two-year running career, he gained 100 yards in the thirteen games and had a career total of 2,639 yards and twenty-nine touchdowns for an average of 120 yards per game and 5.1 yards per carry. John's statistics cover two years as running back inasmuch as he played defensive back in 1971. He was named to virtually every All-American team, including the Kodak All-American team. John's acceptance speech at the Heisman Dinner (with Vice President Gerald Ford next to him on the dais) was considered the most moving ever given at these ceremonies, as he honored his brother Joey, a victim of leukemia.
Penn State's John Cappelletti won in the East, the South and the Far West, with Ohio State's imposing John Hicks taking the Midwest and Roosevelt Leaks of Texas leading the the Southwest. Ohio State players took three of the top six spots, with sophomore sensation Archie Griffin finishing fifth and linebacker Randy Gradishar taking sixth.
He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1993. Penn State football coach Joe Paterno said that Cappelletti was "the best football player I ever coached".