We’re counting down the 25 best former Texas athletes still competing in their sport. Each day we’ll reveal a new athlete.
No. 8 Brian Orakpo, football
Born to Nigerian immigrants Arthur and Gloria, Brian Orakpo came to Austin from Houston Lamar High School and went on to have one of the best careers a defensive player has ever had at Texas. Arriving on campus as a redshirt freshman in 2004, Orakpo was part of teams that won a BCS National Championship (2005) at the Rose Bowl, a Alamo Bowl, a Holiday Bowl and a Fiesta Bowl. His class is the last class to go 4-0 in bowl games– 5-0 if you count his redshirt year where Texas won the 2005 Rose Bowl against Michigan. While the team reached success only few Texas football classes have enjoyed, Orakpo posted individual feats as well. As a freshman he was named Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year, and as a junior he was the Defensive MVP of the 2007 Holiday Bowl, where he had two sacks and six tackles. As a senior, a year that ended with a 24-21 win over Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl in 2009, Orakpo was named a unanimous All-American, won the Bob Willis Trophy and the Bronko, Ted Hendricks and Lombardi awards. He was head coach Mack Brown’s first All-American defensive end at Texas in 2008, and the first since 1995 when Tony Brackens had the honor. Orakpo finished with 132 career tackles, 22 sacks, 38 tackles for a loss, 62 quarterback pressures, six pass breakups and six forced fumbles at Texas.
Pro career: Orakpo was selected No. 13 overall in the 2009 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins. He was an immediate success. A 2009 Pro Bowl alternate, the first rookie to do that since 1978, he set a Redskins record with a four-sack game as a rookie. His career was taking off before a pectoral injury in 2012 slowed him down, but he returned in 2013 and was named to the Pro Bowl. In 2014, his free agent year, he once again tore his pectoral muscle and missed most of the season. The Tennessee Titans still signed him to a 4-year, $32 million deal in 2015 and responded by becoming a leader of the young Titans’ defense and made another Pro Bowl in 2016. He has 64.5 career sacks, 395 tackles and some of the best Geico commercials you’ll see:
Why he’s here: Like Earl Thomas and Derrick Johnson, Orakpo has carved out a stellar NFL career, and it’s not a stretch to think a few more productive, Pro Bowl caliber seasons could have him on a Canton path. He is a 4-time Pro Bowler and is 16th on the active NFL sack list. Orakpo started all 16 games last season and recorded seven sacks for the Titans.
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