University of Texas football has produced national championship seasons and tremendous players that have made incredible impacts on the collegiate and professional levels.  UT has generated Heisman Trophy winners and championship NFL quarterbacks. This page shares information about some of the top Texas Longhorns Football Stars!

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Texas Heisman Trophy Winners

UT has produced two Heisman Trophy winners in the form of legendary running backs Earl Campbell and Ricky Williams. The two stars delivered dominating performances during their collegiate careers and then excelled in the NFL.

Earl Campbell - 1977

Known as the "Tyler Rose", the Tyler, Texas native led the nation in rushing as a senior in 1977, with 1,744 yards and 19 touchdowns. To help clinch the award for the undefeated Longhorns, Campbell rushed for a career-high 222 yards in a 57–28 victory over Texas A&M in the regular season's final game.  Campbell dominated Oklahoma State's Terry Miller and Notre Dame's Ken MacAfee in the Heisman voting.

Campbell was the first player selected in the 1978 NFL Draft and as a Houston Oiler won NFL MVP honors. The former Longhorn was a 3x NFL First-Team All-Pro and in 1991 was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Campbell's No. 20 jersey is retired by Texas and his No. 34 jersey is retired by the Tennessee Titans (formerly Oilers) organization.

Ricky Williams - 1998

Williams became the NCAA's all-time leading rusher late in his 1998 Heisman campaign that saw him rush for 2,327 yards and 29 TD's.  The San Diego native also gained 307 yards receiving and another score.  Williams dominated the Heisman voting ahead of Kansas State's Michael Bishop, UCLA's Cade McNown and Kentucky's Tim Couch. Williams' No. 34 jersey is retired by UT.

Williams was selected by the New Orleans Saints with the 5th overall pick of the 1999 NFL Draft. The San Diego native led the NFL in rushing in 2022 as a Miami Dolphin.

Close Heisman Finishes

The Longhorns football program has come so close to raising the Heisman Trophy multiple times.

2nd Place Finishes: QB Vince Young (2005) finished second to Reggie Bush and Colt McCoy (2008) was the Heisman runner-up, falling just behind Oklahoma's Sam Bradford in the voting.

3rd Place Finishes: RB Roosevelt Leaks (1975) rushed for 1,415 yards and 14 TDs, but trailed Penn State's John Cappelletti and Ohio State's John Hicks in the voting. Jimmy Saxton (1961) ran for 846 yards and 9 TDs and finished behind Syracuse's Ernie Davis and Ohio State's Bob Ferguson.

Texas Longhorns in the Pro Football Hall of Fame

Texas is a leader in producing individuals who are honored with induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.  The Longhorns on the list include:

  1. Bobby Layne - 1967
  2. Earl Campbell - 1991
  3. Tom Landry - 1990
  4. Bobby Dillon - 2020
  5. Tex Schramm - 1991
  6. Steve McMichael - 2024

On the Fast Layne of Success

Texas has a rich football history and Bobby Layne is one of the legendary players that contributed to it. He was a star quarterback at the University of Texas, leading the Longhorns to back-to-back Southwest Conference titles in 1946 and 1947. His success at the college level translated to the professional ranks where he won three NFL Championships with the Detroit Lions. Layne was a true leader on the field and was widely regarded as one of the toughest, grittiest players of his era. His efforts did not go unnoticed, as he was named to the NFL's all 1950's All-Decade Team and was ultimately inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Bobby Layne's legacy continues as an inspiration to aspiring football players in the Lone Star State and beyond.

A Pioneering Football Legend: Tom Landry

Tom Landry, a figure synonymous with American football, was not only a celebrated coach but also a WWII hero. His service to his country and subsequent achievements on the football field have etched his name into the annals of history. Before his legendary coaching career, he served valiantly as a bomber co-pilot during World War II, completing an impressive 30 combat missions. His tenacity and leadership were evident early on, surviving a harrowing crash landing in Belgium. Upon returning from the war, he continued his college football career at the University of Texas, showcasing his versatile skills both as a fullback and a defensive back.

Transitioning from player to coach, Landry's profound impact on professional football remains unparalleled. He assumed the role of head coach for the Dallas Cowboys at their inception in 1960 and redefined the team's image and strategy over the following 28 seasons. Under his guidance, the Cowboys soared to new heights, securing championships in Super Bowl VI and XII. Landry’s innovative coaching techniques and the introduction of the now-famous "4–3 defense" paved the way for many of the standard coaching practices seen in the game today. His stoic presence and strategic acumen on the sidelines became a symbol of American football excellence.

Key Achievements of Tom Landry:

Retired Texas Longhorns Football Jersey Numbers

The following UT football legends have had their jersey numbers retired.  For a
former UT student-athlete to have their jersey retired they must earn a
National Player of the Year honors from one of the NCAA recognized awards.
Vince Young
Vince Young led Texas to a 41-38 victory over No. 1 USC in the Rose Bowl, a school-best 13-0 record and the 2005 National Championship in what was one of the most memorable seasons in Texas Football history.  Young

starred for Texas from 2003-2005 and in 2005, he became the first QB in NCAA history to rush for 1,000 yards and pass for 3,000 yards in a single season.

Colt McCoy
The announcement to retire McCoy's #12 was made in the 2010. While wearing Texas Burnt Orange (2006-2009), McCoy was a two-time Walter Camp Football Foundation National Player of the Year and won the
Maxwell Award in 2009.  McCoy won more games (45) in his four-year career than any player in college football history. The two-time Heisman finalist also the school's all-time leader in total touchdowns, touchdown
passes and passing yards.
Earl Campbell
Known as the Tyler Rose, Campbell was about as easy to tackle as a Texas tornado during his Longhorns career (1974-1977). Campbell was a two-time All-American and winner of the 1977 Heisman Trophy. He finished
his four-year UT career with 4,443 yards rushing and 40 TDs.
Bobby Layne
Layne was a two-sport star for the Longhorns (1944-47) before later starring in the NFL.  Layne finished his UT career with then school records 3,145 yards passing, 25 TD passes on 210 completions and 400 attempts,
while also pitching for the baseball team.  As a pro, Layne led the Detroit Lions to NFL titles in 1952 and 1953 and was later dubbed by Sports Illustrated (1995) as "The toughest quarterback who ever lived."
Ricky Williams
Williams captured a Heisman Trophy. During his four-year career at Texas (1995-1998), Williams rushed for 6,279 yards and 72 TDs. He also was the 1998 Heisman Trophy winner and a  two-time winner of the Doak Walker Award.  When Williams' collegiate career concluded he had run for more yards than anyone in major college football.
Tommy Nobis
Nobis was the Outland Trophy and Maxwell Award winner as a senior, a two-time All-American, made the All-Southwest Conference team three years and was the only sophomore starter on the Longhorns' 1963 National Championship team. He also finished seventh in the Heisman voting in 1965, the only defensive player ranked among the top 10.  

In the NFL, Nobis was the first player ever drafted by the expansion Atlanta Falcons in 1966.  The defensive star won 1966 NFLK Rookie of the Year honors and was a 5-time Pro Bowl player during his 10-year career. Nobis is also a member of the NFL's 1960s All-Decade Team.

Texas Longhorns Drafted with the 1st Pick of the NFL Draft

Tommy NobisLB1966Atlanta Falcons
Earl CampbellRB1978Houston Oilers
Kenneth SimsDE1982New England Patriots

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