Texas offensive back, Earl Campbell (20), picks up a first down for the top-rated Texas Longhorns in the first period of their game with Texas Tech at Austin Saturday, Oct. 29, 1977. (AP Photo/stf)

BEVO BEAT Football

Black History Month at Texas: Earl Campbell

Posted February 10th, 2020

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Throughout Black History Month, the American-Statesman will take a daily look at the black athletes who have had a lasting impact in Texas’ athletic department. Today, we are writing about football player Earl Campbell.

One of UT’s all-time greatest athletes, the Tyler Rose bloomed at Texas from 1974-77. Campbell arrived four years after the integration of the football team’s varsity roster, so he was neither Texas’ first black player or first black star. He did, however, become the first Longhorn to accomplish many feats:

  • Texas’ first Heisman Trophy winner (1977)
  • Texas’ first 1,500-yard rusher (1977)
  • Texas’ first offensive player taken first in the NFL Draft (1978)
  • Texas’ first retired jersey in any sport (1979)

When Campbell left Texas, he owned UT’s single-season (1,744) and career (4,443) rushing marks. That single-season standard stood for two decades and it took nearly 21 years before he was dethroned as UT’s rushing king. Earlier this year, ESPN touted Campbell as the seventh-best player in college football’s history.

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After Texas, Campbell played eight seasons in the NFL for Houston and New Orleans. The Pro Football Hall of Fame has inducted only four ex-Longhorns and Campbell is one of those enshrined. Since his retirement, Campbell has long served as a special assistant to the athletics department at UT.

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