The University of Texas at Austin leads the NCAA in licensed merchandise sales for the fourth consecutive year. While T-shirts and stickers usually come to mind when people think of licensed collegiate merchandise, the Texas Longhorns logo is also a driving force behind another licensing category-college football-themed trading cards.
The college theme has been a growing trend in the football card industry for several years, although the idea is as old as the industry itself. Some of the earliest football cards ever made, such as 1950 Topps Felt Backs, 1951 Topps Magic and 1955 Topps All-American, feature all-time college greats.
"When we create trading cards of past Longhorn standouts, fans and collectors clamor for them," says Clay Luraschi, Director of Product Development for Topps - the longest-tenured football card manufacturer. "The collector base is huge and enthusiastic. If you create college-themed football trading cards, Longhorns are a must."
From all-time greats such as Earl Campbell and Tommy Nobis to recent favorites such as Vince Young and Cedric Benson, some cards picturing Texas alumni in their college duds often sell for more than comparable cards picturing them in their NFL uniforms. Even NFL newbies such as Colt McCoy, Jordan Shipley, Earl Thomas and Sergio Kindle already have a few licensed cards on the market, with thousands more to release over the coming months.
After the jump, 10 great Texas football cards for collectors...
10 Great Texas Longhorns Football Cards
Cards picturing former Longhorns in their college uniforms started to pop up more frequently in the late 1990s. Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams had Texas fans and collectors hunting for anything that celebrated his record-setting college career. A few years later, players such as Casey Hampton, Chris Simms, Roy Williams and Cedric Benson had more and more Texas cards produced, some with pieces of their game-worn college jerseys embedded into the cards.
Now, it's almost expected that at least a couple Longhorns players that make it to the NFL will be included in college sets. Texas has had 25 players drafted into the NFL since 2005 (not to mention the handful that made it into the league as free agents), so it's no surprise that the Longhorns are must-haves for these sets.
Here are 10 of the most significant Longhorns cards that have been produced since this trend started to take off.
1999 Bowman's Best Legacy Autographs Ricky Williams ($60)
When Ricky Williams was a rookie, Topps took the opportunity to pair him on three cards with Longhorns legend Earl Campbell. This card pictures Williams in the foreground and Campbell in the background. Williams autographed this version for the set.
1999 Bowman's Best Legacy Autographs Earl Campbell ($60)
The opposite of the Williams card, this one has The Tyler Rose in the foreground with an autograph of the Hall of Famer.
1999 Bowman's Best Legacy Autographs Ricky Williams/Earl Campbell ($200)
This card has a rare combination of Williams and Campbell, both pictured in their Texas uniforms and both having signed this classic card. This would be a prized possession for any Longhorns card collector.
1999 Donruss Elite Passing the Torch Autographs Ricky Williams/Earl Campbell ($120)
Another terrific combo card from Williams' rookie season, this card is part of one of the greatest autographed football card sets every made. Campbell is on the front in his Oilers uniform, but Williams is on the back pictured as a Longhorn.
2008 Absolute Memorabilia College Materials #16 Jamaal Charles ($15)
A few years ago, the card companies started getting more creative with how they designed their college cards. This one has three small pieces of a jersey worn by Jamaal Charles during a Texas Longhorns game. The swatches are placed behind a card front that has die-cut windows in the shape of a U, a T and the Longhorns logo. Young has a similar card from 2006.
2006 Ultra Lucky 13 Autographs Vince Young ($300)
This is one of Vince Young's most popular autographed cards. Even though hundreds of Young autographed cards have been produced since this card released in 2006, it still is one of his most valuable. The photo on the card was taken during his transcendent 2006 Rose Bowl performance.
2008 Leaf Rookies & Stars Team Chemistry Jamaal Charles/Limas Sweed
This hot hook'em hobby gem has an embroidered Longhorns logo signed by Jamaal Charles and Limas Sweed. Although there are just 11 of them in the world, it's one of the most unique Texas cards ever made.
2006 Leaf Certified Materials Fabric of the Game College Combos Roy Williams/Cedric Benson ($25)
This card has pieces of jerseys worn during Roy Williams and Cedric Benson's Texas careers. It's a great combo of two of the greatest offensive players to ever wear burnt orange.
2008 Press Pass Legends Saturday Signatures Tommy Nobis ($12)
Before 2008, Tommy Nobis never appeared in his college uniform on a licensed football card. This one is autographed, and the linebacker great even added a "Hook'em Horns" inscription. Nobis is also paired on another autographed card with Earl Campbell.
2006 Press Pass Legends Autographs #60 Darrell Royal ($25)
Coach Darrell Royal actually appeared on a 1950 Topps Felt Backs card-six years before Topps released its first NFL card set. But this is Royal's first legitimate card released since then, and his first autographed card portraying him and the Texas coach.
Secondary market values provided by Beckett.com