Earl Campbell: One of the Greatest Freshmen in Texas History

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Earl Campbell: One of the Greatest Freshmen in Texas History
(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

One of the greatest running backs in Texas history was Earl Campbell.

 

He was born as the fifth of 11 children, so he had to fight for everything he got. He used that mentality all through high school. In his senior season he caught the eye of the University of Texas.

 

In 1974 the University of Texas recruited the running back out of Tyler, Texas. He was known down in the piney woods as the "Tyler Rose." This was also Darrel Royals’ last recruiting class.

 

At the first game, Campbell showed he was ready for big time college football. His first game against Boston College was a dandy. He rushed the ball 13 times for 85 yards. While not a stellar day, it was just a pre-cursor for things to come.

 

After that first game, he had a couple weeks where he rushed around 50 yards. But in a game against Washington, he broke out for 16 carries for 125 yards.

 

Campbell went on that season to have three more 100-yard rushing games.

 

But it wasn’t just on the field that Campbell succeeded. He didn’t want to get stuck with the dumb jock moniker. So he decided that he was going to attend every class and sit at the front of every class.

 

Earl saw the opportunity to get a degree from Texas as a privilege, not a right. With this mentality she showed the Southwest Conference and the Nation to be on alert. While this was not a stellar season in the stats column, it was the beginning of great things to come for Earl.

 

His overall season stats were, 162 carries for 928 yards. He capped off his season in a Gator Bowl loss to Auburn, in which he carried the ball 23 times for 91 yards.

 

This spectacular season was enough to earn him the honor of Southwestern Conference newcomer of the year, and a first team all SWC honors. This was just the start of the numerous accolades Campbell would win.

 

The crown jewel in his career was Earl Campbell’s in 1977. He had the honor of winning the Heisman Trophy. But if it wasn’t for his freshman year to set the foundation, then there would have been no "Tyler Rose."

 

After college, Campbell went on to an NFL career where he played for the Houston Oilers and New Orleans Saints. But he will always be endeared to Longhorn fans for his four years in Austin.

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