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These high schools have produced the most Texas Longhorns - Part Two

The all-time top football pipeline schools for the University of Texas.

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This map has a letterman’s “T” dot for all 35 high schools known to have produced ten or more Texas Longhorn football lettermen. The full list is included in this post.

This post is the second in a two-part series that reveals the high schools that have produced the most Texas Longhorn football lettermen in that program’s history, from its beginning in 1893 through the 2021 season. To read Part One, you can click this link.

To recap, these rankings were compiled as part of a research project that I began in December of 2020, and are based on the number of recognized lettermen that have attended each high school. This will not include every recruit Texas ever signed or every player who was ever a member of the Longhorn team if they did not win a letter with the program. Here is the revealed ranking so far, with each school’s number of known Longhorn lettermen:

6. (tie) Houston Sam Houston (formerly Houston High School/Central) — 20
Wichita Falls — 20
8. Longview — 18
9. Houston Lamar — 17
10. Tyler High (formerly John Tyler) — 16
11. (tie) Baytown Lee — 15
Temple — 15

And now, without further ado, the top five high schools that have produced the most Longhorn football lettermen. After that there will be a few more lists, namely the 35 high schools that are known to have produced at least ten Longhorn lettermen (as seen in the map that serves as this post’s header photo), then the schools that have produced the most lettermen in the “modern” era.

5. Amarillo High School (Amarillo)

Longhorn lettermen from this school: 22
First letterman: G Rex Phillips (1933)
Most recent letterman: RB Rick Hinnant (1995)
Longhorn team captains (1*): Rick Fenlaw (1976); Red Goodwin was elected a co-captain for the 1941 season but enlisted in the Army Air Corps that year and never played football again.
UT Hall of Honor inductees (1): Stanley Mauldin

Amarillo High School had the state’s most successful football program of the 1930s. Not coincidentally, 10 of the 22 Amarillo products to win letters at Texas did so between 1933 and 1942. With Blair Cherry as its head coach from 1930 to 1936, Amarillo reached the state semifinals in five out of seven seasons, lost in the 1930 state championship game, and won three straight state titles from 1934 to 1936. The “Golden Sandies” (a popular shortened version of the school’s mascot, the Golden Sandstorm) added a fourth state championship in 1940 under Cherry’s successor Howard Lynch. After the 1936 season, new Texas Longhorn head football coach Dana X. Bible hired Cherry as an assistant coach, a role he would serve for ten seasons before taking over as UT’s head coach in 1947 following Bible’s retirement.

No less than eight senior starters from Amarillo’s 1936 state championship team followed Cherry to Austin, and four of them became multi-year lettermen at Texas. Very few high school programs have ever made such an impression on UT football in such a short amount of time as Amarillo’s players did in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Six Amarillo alums won letters at UT in 1940 alone, and five of them started at least one game that season.

A dozen Amarillo grads have won letters at Texas since the end of World War II, but their appearance on Longhorn rosters has been much more sporadic than their pre-WWII predecessors, and their impact on the field not nearly as notable. As of this writing the most recent Amarillo Golden Sandie to letter at Texas is walk-on running back Rick Hinnant back in 1995.

Though Amarillo High is not the annual state contender that it was in its football glory days, its teams are still a playoff fixture, having missed the postseason only twice in the past 30 seasons. In the 82 years since its last state title, Amarillo has won far more games than it has lost, and it goes into the 2022 season having the second-most wins (808) of any Texas high school football program, trailing only Highland Park (864).

Most notable UT lettermen from Amarillo High

Mike Sweeney (1938, 40-41) was an all-state end on Amarillo’s 1936 state championship team. His two blocked punts in that year’s championship game were both returned for Golden Sandie touchdowns, which proved the difference in a 19-6 win over Kerrville Tivy. He was a three-year letterman at Texas, and when healthy he was one of the best defensive ends in the Southwest Conference, but he had multiple seasons cut short due to injury, and by his senior year in 1941 he was a reserve more often than a starter. He joined the Army Air Force after graduating from UT in 1942, and went on to pilot B-26 bomber planes in Europe during World War II. He was killed in August 1944 after his badly-damaged plane crashed at an Allied airstrip in Normandy on its return from a bombing run. He was 25 years old.

James “Red” Goodwin (1939-40) was the starting center on Amarillo’s 1935 state championship team. He enrolled at UT after spending time at an Oklahoma junior college, and was a member of the 1939 and 1940 Longhorn teams. He started at center in 13 of the team’s 19 games in those two seasons. Following the 1940 season he was elected a team captain for 1941, but he instead enlisted in the Army Air Corps in the summer of 1941, and was commissioned a second lieutenant later that year. He served in World War II and was part of a squadron that was based in southeastern England beginning in January 1944. He was killed when his P-47 fighter plane was shot down during a mission over southwestern Germany in April 1944. I wrote a post about Goodwin last year which covered his football and military career, and the strange twist in his story that occurred seven months after his death that led several newspapers to erroneously report that he was not only still alive but was on his way home to the U.S.

Don Williams (1938-40) was a starter on Amarillo’s 1936 state championship squad. Standing 5’8” with a listed weight of 220 pounds, he was UT’s starting left tackle in his junior and senior years (1939-40). In his final season he and fellow Amarillo alum Stanley Mauldin bookended the Longhorn offensive line at the two tackle spots, and both were named to the AP’s All-SWC honorable mention team. He was picked in the 10th round (91st overall) of the 1941 NFL Draft and played for one season with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Vernon Martin (1940-41) was a backup on Amarillo’s 1936 state championship team as a junior. He won two letters as a blocking back at Texas and made the All-SWC second team as a senior in 1941. He was picked in the 2nd round (11th overall) of the 1942 NFL Draft and played one season with the Pittsburgh Steelers, then served as a flight officer in the Army Air Force during World War II. He died in a car accident in 1949, only a week after his 29th birthday.

Stanley Mauldin (1940-42) was a sophomore on Amarillo’s 1936 state championship team. He came to UT in 1939 and spent his freshman year at center. He contemplated quitting football after that season, but blossomed after being moved from center to tackle and became one of the program’s best linemen of the 1940s. He was a starter on Longhorn teams that beat Texas A&M in three consecutive years from 1940 to 1942, the first time in the Southwest Conference era that either school had beaten the other three straight times. As a senior in 1942 he was a consensus All-SWC first team pick at tackle, and also made the AP’s All-America second team. He was picked in the 7th round (53rd overall) of the 1943 NFL Draft, but served in the Air Force during World War II before beginning his pro football career in 1946. He was the starting right tackle for the Chicago Cardinals’ 1947 NFL Championship team and was named a first team All-Pro by Pro Football Illustrated. His life was tragically cut short the following year when he suffered a fatal heart attack in the Cardinals’ locker room after the team’s first game of the 1948 season. He was 27 years old. Mauldin’s #77 jersey was the first one ever retired by the Cardinals, and today is one of just five numbers to have been retired by that franchise (now the Arizona Cardinals). His sons Dan and Stan Mauldin were both Longhorn football lettermen as well, and the latter was a team captain in 1971.

Rick Fenlaw (1973, 75-76) was a three-year letterman at linebacker for the Longhorns and was the team’s leading tackler as a junior in 1975. He was named a team captain for the 1976 season and became the first Amarillo alum to actually serve in that role. He was picked in the 12th round of the 1977 NFL Draft but did not have a pro football career.

3. (tie) Westlake High School (Austin)

Longhorn lettermen from this school: 23
First lettermen: OG Rick Ingraham (1974-77) and DT Brad Shearer (1974-77)
Most recent letterman: QB Sam Ehlinger (2017-20)
Longhorn team captains (4): Brad Shearer (1977), Jeff Ward (1986), Breckyn Hager (2018), and Sam Ehlinger (2019-20)
UT Hall of Honor inductees (1): Brad Shearer

Westlake played its first football season in 1970, and has had just four losing seasons in its history. It is, by any measure, one of the most successful high school football programs in the state over the past three decades. The last time the Chaparrals missed the playoffs was in 1987, and within their current 34-season postseason streak they have won four state championships (1996, and three straight from 2019 to 2021), lost in a state championship game seven other times, had a dozen undefeated runs through the regular season, and finished with a double-digit win total 23 times.

Austin Westlake is currently tied for third on this list, but with former Chaparral standouts Connor Robertson and Ethan Burke joining the Longhorn roster as freshmen this fall and walk-on defensive back and recruiting ace Michael Taaffe in his second year with the program, it will almost surely rise to the #2 spot by the end of this decade and remain in that position for the foreseeable future. The high school that tops this list has such an absurd lead that it will not be caught within the lifetime of anybody reading this post in 2022. Westlake is the newest of the schools in the top ten by over three decades (Houston Lamar is the second-newest), and it has produced by far the most Longhorn lettermen in the program’s post-integration era (1970-present).

Most notable UT lettermen from Austin Westlake

Brad Shearer (1974-77) was part of the first group of Westlake standouts to sign with Texas, and he went on to be a four-year letterman. Shearer began his college career at offensive tackle, but was later moved to defensive tackle and became a star at that position. He was a team captain as a senior in 1977, and in that season he was voted a consensus All-American and was awarded the Outland Trophy. He was picked in the 3rd round of the 1978 NFL Draft and played with the Chicago Bears for three seasons in a brief pro career that was plagued by — and ended early due to — knee injuries.

Rick Ingraham (1974-77), whose father Hub Ingraham had played for the Longhorns in the early 1950s, was a late addition to UT’s 1974 recruiting class. He signed at first with Tyler Junior College over an offer from TCU (“I like TCU but I don’t want to spend four years at a loser”, Ingraham was quoted as presciently saying about a team that would go 4-40 during his four years in college), but he was offered a scholarship to Texas in March after some spots in the class unexpectedly opened up a month after signing day. Ingraham spent time at offensive tackle, offensive guard, and tight end (his offensive position during high school) during his first two seasons with the Longhorns, then settled into the left guard position and was a starter in each of his final two college seasons. Though he battled injuries as a senior in 1977, he made the All-SWC first team and was an AP honorable mention All-American.

Jeff Ward (1983-86) was UT’s placekicker and the team’s leading scorer for four straight seasons, and made the All-SWC first team in each of his first three years. He was a team captain as a senior in 1986, and in his college career he made 74% of his field goal attempts and missed only one PAT attempt. He was picked in the 11th round of the 1987 NFL Draft but did not have a pro football career.

Ryan Nunez (1998-99) began his college career at Colorado before transferring to Texas and playing his final two seasons of college football as a Longhorn. As a senior in 1999 he was the team’s second-leading receiver with 56 receptions for 600 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Justin Tucker (2008-11) was UT’s kickoff specialist and sometime punter during his first two seasons with the team, then in his last two seasons he filled both roles plus that of placekicker. He made 40 of 48 field goal attempts in his two seasons as the placekicker, none more memorable than this one.

He made the AP’s All-Big 12 second team as a senior in 2011. He signed with the Baltimore Ravens as an undrafted free agent in 2012, and in his ten seasons in the NFL he has been voted a first team All-Pro kicker five times, was named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s 2010s All-Decade Team, and won a Super Bowl ring as a member of Baltimore’s 2012 team. Going into the 2022 NFL season Tucker is the most accurate kicker on field goals in league history, having made just over 91% of his career attempts.

Calvin Anderson (2018) spent his senior year of high school at Westlake after attending Georgetown High School through his junior year. He began his college career at Rice and was a three-year starter for the Owls at offensive tackle before coming to Texas as a graduate transfer in 2018. He was an honorable mention All-Big 12 selection in his lone season with the Longhorns, and after going undrafted in 2019 he eventually caught on with the NFL’s Denver Broncos. He has appeared in 27 games with the Broncos and made five starts in his two seasons on the active roster.

Sam Ehlinger (2017-20) started 43 games at quarterback in his four seasons with the Longhorns and graduated as the program’s second all-time leader in career passing yards and touchdowns behind Colt McCoy. He shattered a team record during one stretch in the 2018 season by throwing 308 consecutive passes without an interception. Ehlinger made the All-Big 12 second team as a senior in 2020 and was picked in the 6th round of the 2021 NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts.

3. (tie) old Waco High School (Waco)

Prior name for this school: Central High School
Longhorn lettermen from this school: 23
First letterman: FB/T Davis McGee “D.M.” Prendergast (1901-02, 04)
Last letterman: T Gene Bledsoe (1964-66)
Longhorn team captains (2*): Charley Coates (1934) and Joe Schwarting (1942); D.M. Prendergast was elected the 1903 team captain but did not enroll in school that fall.
UT Hall of Honor inductees (2): Pete Edmond and Charley Coates

Some explanation is in order for this entry, as I’m sure many readers saw the line about Waco High’s last letterman being a 1960s tackle and wondered if I’d somehow forgotten about Kwame Cavil or Derrick Johnson.

There have been two different iterations of Waco High School. The original one had a history that dated back to the 1880s, and it operated on at least three different campuses in Waco over the course of a century. That Waco High School’s mascot was the Tiger, its school colors white and gold. It had the state’s first high school football dynasty after the University Interscholastic League (UIL) began awarding state championships in football in 1920. Waco reached the state championship game in six straight seasons from 1922 to 1927 and won four titles. The Tigers also reached the state title game a pair of times in the 1940s, tying Highland Park in 1945 and winning over Amarillo in 1948. Waco won 13 district championships in football in the 22 seasons from 1939 to 1960, but over the next 25 years it had no playoff appearances.

In 1986, Waco High School was consolidated with two other Waco ISD high schools: Jefferson-Moore and Richfield. The resulting school retained the Waco High School name, but was for all intents and purposes a new school. It was located on Richfield's former campus and took on that school’s colors, and the new Waco High School's mascot was Jefferson-Moore’s Lion rather than old Waco High’s Tiger. Thus, the “Waco High School” that produced Longhorn stars Kwame Cavil and Derrick Johnson (not to mention recent scholarship DB Eric Cuffee, who transferred without playing a game for UT) is technically not the same school that produced 23 Longhorn lettermen between 1902 and 1966.

Were I to combine the numbers for old and new Waco High, it would be alone in second place with 25 lettermen, but instead old Waco High will have to settle for being tied for third place (going into the 2022 season anyway) with Austin Westlake. Though it has been 56 years since the last season that a Waco Tiger won a football letter at Texas, there were enough of them that came from that school that it will likely remain in the top ten for a good while to come.

The Waco Tigers sent many players to Austin who were good enough to start for the Longhorns, and some who won all-conference honors, though arguably no more than one or two would be considered a program legend. The old and new Waco High have produced a combined 22 alums who have played pro football. Only three of them were Texas Longhorns in college, and only one of those three attended the original Waco High (Kwame Cavil and Derrick Johnson are the other two), so new Waco High already has the advantage on its predecessor in that metric.

Most notable UT lettermen from old Waco High

Davis McGee Prendergast (1901-02, 04) was sometimes referred to as "Dave" or "D.M." in his college days. His father Albert Collins Prendergast was a Waco lawyer who was also the longtime president of the local school board and would serve as chief justice of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals from 1913 to 1918. The younger Prendergast was a tackle at UT for three seasons while he was a law student. After a standout 1902 season he was elected the team's captain for 1903, but he ended up not enrolling in school that fall and did not fulfill that role for the Longhorns. He later returned to school and was a starting tackle in 1904, and he won "All-Southwestern" honors for that season. (The Southwest Conference was not founded until a decade later, so the outstanding players of that day would receive “all-state” or “all-Southwestern” honors from different media groups.)

Pete Edmond (1913-15) was among the most highly-regarded Longhorn athletes in the decade preceding World War I. He was a three-sport letterman in football, basketball, and baseball, and he won 11 letters in all. He was a star at end on the football team for three seasons, and was a team captain in both basketball and baseball. He won All-SWC honors in basketball and was the 3rd baseman on two Southwest Conference championship baseball teams. He graduated from UT with both a bachelor's and master's degree, then joined the Army during World War I and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant. He was killed in action in northern France on October 11, 1918. Edmond was inducted into the UT Athletics Hall of Honor in 1959 as a member of that hall's third class.

George Wendell McCullough (1919) was one of two athletes with the same first and last name who were contemporaries at UT in the post-WWI years (the other being Missouri native George Howard “Hook” McCullough). He won a letter playing halfback on the 1919 Longhorn football team, and also was a standout in basketball (1919-20) and baseball (1918-20). He won All-SWC honors in both of his seasons with the basketball team, and was the baseball team's captain in 1919.

John McCullough (1925-27), the younger brother of George Wendell McCullough, was known by the nickname "Pottie" (an entire article could be written on the odd nicknames by which some of the early Longhorn gridders were known). As a junior at Waco High he was the starting left end on the school's first state championship football team in 1922. He was named to numerous all-state teams after playing guard and tackle as a senior in 1923, and after graduation he enrolled at UT. He was the Longhorns' starting center for two years and made the All-SWC first team as a senior in 1927.

Charley Coates (1932-34) was a center in his first year with the Longhorn varsity, then was moved to tackle as a junior and made the All-SWC first team. He was elected a team captain for his senior year in 1934, and in that season he moved back to his former center position and made the All-SWC second team. He later graduated from the Harvard School of Business, and at one point was president of the UT Ex-Students Association.

Philip Sanger (1933-34) was a Waco native who was descended from the founders of the Sanger Brothers chain of department stores, which later became Sanger-Harris and eventually merged with Foley's in the 1980s. Sanger broke into the Longhorn starting lineup at an end spot as a junior in 1933 and was touted as a potential all-conference pick, but an injury late in the season kept him from playing at full strength. As a senior in 1934 he made the AP's All-SWC first team.

Joe Schwarting (1941-42) was an all-state end as a senior at Waco High in 1937. He was an art student while at Texas, and in his sophomore year he was a reserve on the 1939 Longhorn team. He had to sit out the 1940 season due to a knee injury, and he did not win his first letter until he was a fourth-year junior in 1941. Despite not being an every-week starter as a junior, he was still elected a team captain going into his senior year in 1942. He was UT's starting left end that fall and was also part of the Navy's V-7 officer training program. He graduated from Texas in 1943 and was picked in the 25th round of the 1943 NFL Draft, but he did not play pro football.

Schwarting did, however, go on to play for a pair of football teams made up of Navy trainees, and during World War II several teams of that type played full season schedules against a mix of college football powers and teams from other military installations. In 1943, Schwarting played for the team of the Great Lakes Naval Training Station, which went 10-2 that fall, was ranked 6th in the season's final AP poll, and completed its season with a 19-14 win over top-ranked Notre Dame at Comiskey Park in Chicago. In 1944 he was a member of the undefeated team of the Bainbridge Naval Training Station in Maryland, though a knee injury in the team's third game sidelined him for the rest of that season. (Army was ranked first and Navy fourth in the final AP poll of the 1944 college football season, and ten of the other 18 spots in the top 20 were filled by teams from various military installations.) In his post-college and post-Navy years, Schwarting was an award-winning artist, most notably with the Medical Arts Publishing Foundation.

George Sauer Jr. (1963-64) was the son of a longtime football coach and sometime pro football GM. His father, George Sauer Sr., was Baylor's head football coach from 1950 to 1955, and had previous head coaching stops at New Hampshire, Kansas, and Navy. While at Texas, Sauer went from being a third-team end as a sophomore on the 1963 national championship team, to becoming a starter as a junior the following year. In his final college game he caught 3 passes for 96 yards and a touchdown to help Texas defeat top-ranked Alabama (who was led at QB by Sauer’s future pro teammate Joe Namath) 21-17 in the 1965 Orange Bowl. The AFL’s New York Jets — who George Sauer Sr. worked for as director of player personnel at the time — picked George Sauer Jr. in the fifth round of the 1965 AFL “redshirt” draft, in which teams drafted players who still had collegiate eligibility remaining in hopes of signing them in the future. Sauer, who had taken a redshirt year in 1962 and was due to be a fifth-year senior at Texas in the fall of 1965, made it known in January of 1965 that he did not intend to use his final season of eligibility and wanted to sign a professional contract. He ended up signing with the Jets a few months later over the objections of Longhorn head coach Darrell Royal. He played for the Jets for six seasons (1965-70), and during that time he led the team in receptions in three straight years (1966-68), led the AFL in receptions in 1967, made four Pro Bowls, was twice an AFL All-Pro selection, and was a member of the legendary 1968 Jets team that won Super Bowl III in a 16-7 upset over the NFL’s Baltimore Colts. Sauer had eight catches for 133 yards in that Super Bowl win, and those eight receptions stood as a Super Bowl record for thirteen years until Cincinnati Bengals tight end Dan Ross caught 11 passes in Super Bowl XVI.

2. Thomas Jefferson High School (Port Arthur)

Prior name for this school: Port Arthur High School
Longhorn lettermen from this school: 24
First letterman: T Thorleif “Swampy” Thompson (1924-25)
Last letterman: RB Kenny Harrison (1994-96)
Longhorn team captains (1): Billy Gordon (1976)
UT Hall of Honor inductees (2): Ragan Gennusa and Cotton Speyrer

Port Arthur High School was renamed Thomas Jefferson High School at some point in the 1930s, but it was still often colloquially referred to as “Port Arthur High” for several years after that change. The Port Arthur Yellow Jackets were a football team to be reckoned with in southeast Texas for many years, and they reached the state semifinal round of the playoffs at least once in every decade from the 1920s through the 1980s.

With no less than 24 graduates who went on to win letters with the UT football team, Port Arthur Jefferson made an impact on the Longhorn program. UT football also made an impact over the years at Port Arthur High/Jefferson, as the school had three head football coaches who were Longhorn lettermen: Rufus Perry (1912-13), Tom Dennis (1926-45), and Ted Dawson (1954-55).

The Yellow Jackets reached a state championship game five times in their school’s history, winning a co-championship after tying Breckenridge in the 1929 title game, and winning the 1944 state final outright over Highland Park. Both of the school’s state titles were won by teams coached by Tom Dennis, a former Longhorn tackle who was the 1921 team captain.

The book on Port Arthur Jefferson closed in 2002 when it merged with Port Arthur’s two other high schools (Austin and Lincoln) to form Memorial High School. In keeping with the theme of ex-Longhorns coaching Port Arthur teams, Port Arthur Memorial’s head football coach from 2009 to 2017 was Kenny Harrison, who played running back at UT in the mid-1990s and was the last Jefferson alum to win a letter with the Longhorns.

Most notable UT lettermen from Port Arthur Jefferson

Carl Larpenter (1956) won his only letter at Texas as a sophomore playing offensive and defensive tackle in 1956. He dropped out of school in early 1957 after becoming academically ineligible, then served in the military for a few years. He reportedly intended to return to school and try out for a spot on the Longhorn squad in 1959, but he did not suit up for UT or any other college again. In 1960, after being away from football for over three years, Larpenter was signed by the Denver Broncos, a brand new franchise that was then preparing to play in the inaugural season of the American Football League (AFL). Larpenter was a member of the first two Broncos teams (1960-61) and started a total of 12 games at tackle and guard, then was traded to the Dallas Texans in the spring of 1962. Larpenter’s Pro Football Reference page says he played in two games with the Texans that season, but contemporary news accounts say he was cut three days before the team’s first game in a move to help trim the roster down to the AFL’s 33-player(!) limit. Larpenter never played pro football again, and the Texans franchise relocated to Kansas City the following year and became the Chiefs.

Ragan Gennusa (1966-67) went from being buried on the depth chart at quarterback at the beginning of his Longhorn career, to becoming a starter at split end, and he was UT’s leading receiver in both the 1966 and 1967 seasons. He was an acclaimed artist in his post-college years, known primarily for his paintings of western scenes and wildlife.

Cotton Speyrer (1968-70) was UT’s leading receiver in its first two seasons running the wishbone offense (1968-69). As a junior on the Longhorns’ 1969 national championship team he caught 30 passes for 492 yards in the regular season, then had another four catches for 70 yards in UT’s 21-17 win over Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl. He was awarded All-America honors after the 1969 season by the Central Press Association (first team), United Press International (second team), and Walter Camp Football Foundation. In the third game of the 1970 season, Speyrer helped extend the Longhorns’ winning streak to 23 games when he caught a 45-yard go-ahead touchdown pass with just 12 seconds left in regulation to give Texas a 20-17 win over 13th-ranked UCLA. He suffered a broken arm the following week in a 41-9 win over Oklahoma, and was lost for the rest of the season, one which would end with a previously undefeated Longhorn team falling to Notre Dame by a 24-11 score in a Cotton Bowl re-match. Despite only playing in four games during his senior year, Speyrer was named a Walter Camp All-American for 1970. He was picked in the 2nd round of the 1971 NFL Draft and played in the league for four seasons.

Bruce Hebert (1972-74) was a starting offensive guard for the Longhorns for three seasons, despite a listed height of just 5’11” and a weight under 220 pounds. He was not significantly bigger than some of the running backs he blocked for, but was a very highly-regarded player and made the All-SWC second team as a junior and first team as a senior.

Billy Gordon (1974-76) was the starting center on Darrell Royal’s last two Longhorn teams. As a junior in 1975 he was named to the UPI’s All-SWC first team, and was a second team pick by the AP. He became the first and only Port Arthur Jefferson alum to serve as a Longhorn team captain as a senior in 1976, and for his work in that season he was named to the All-SWC second team by both the AP and UPI.

Todd Dodge (1982-85) was the star quarterback of the last Port Arthur Jefferson team to reach a state championship game. He led the Yellow Jackets to the 1980 state final against Odessa Permian, which they lost 28-19. He graduated from Jefferson in 1981 as the owner of the state’s high school record for career passing yards with 5,693, and his 3,123 passing yards in the 1980 season was also a state record at the time. He was a four-year letterman at UT during a period when the program was not known for its stability at the QB position from year to year. Dodge was the team’s starting QB in the 1984 season, and he also appeared in 27 games over his other three seasons.

He went on to much greater success as a high school coach, particularly during his time at Southlake Carroll (2000-06) and Austin Westlake (2014-21). He was a head coach for 23 total seasons at six different high schools, which were sandwiched around an ill-fated four year run as head coach at the University of North Texas from 2007 to 2010. His teams won seven state championships in all, four at Carroll and three at Westlake. He retired after the 2021 season, but not before his Westlake team won its third straight state title and extended its winning streak to 40 games. Dodge is one of only two head coaches in Texas history to have multiple 40-game winning streaks (the other is Carthage’s Scott Surratt), and he is the only one to have such a streak at two different schools.

1. Stephen F. Austin High School (Austin)

Prior name for this school: Austin High School (from 1881 to 1953)
Longhorn lettermen from this school: at least 73
First letterman: QB William McLean (1893-94)
Most recent letterman: QB Charles Wright (2021)
Longhorn team captains (11): Wallace Ralston (1895), Marshall Ramsdell (1911), Dave Pena (1918), Maxey Hart (1920), Rufus King (1928), Wilson “Cheesie” Cook (1932), Joe Smartt (1935), Ralph Park (1943), Harold Fischer (1944), Raymond Jones (1947), and Mike Cotten (1961)
UT Hall of Honor inductees (8): Walter Fisher, Maxey Hart, Bibb Falk, Oscar Eckhardt, Ben Proctor, Delano Womack, Mike Cotten, and Johnny Treadwell

Austin High School has produced the most Texas Longhorn football players by several country miles. The 73 former Austin Maroons who went on to win football letters at Texas is more than the combined total of the next three schools on this list. Only 29 high schools have produced eleven or more Longhorn football lettermen; Austin High has produced eleven team captains! It has had at least one alum win a letter at UT in every decade of the football program’s existence except the 1980s. Four of the seven Austin High products to play in the NFL were Longhorns in college.

[Note: this post originally listed WR Cayleb Jones as the school’s most recent Longhorn letterman, but a reader pointed out that Charles Wright lettered in 2021, and the post has been edited. UT’s current football roster, oddly, doesn’t have a “1L” notation on Wright’s entry, which it has for all other first-year lettermen on the team.]

Austin’s actual number of lettermen may be even higher than 73. The rosters of the first two Longhorn teams in 1893 and 1894 had three Austinites who I have not yet been able to connect with Austin High or any other preparatory school: 1893 halfback Richard Unett Lee (whose father was the rector of St. David’s Church in Austin for 37 years), the team’s original fullback Addison “Ad” Day (an Austin native who some sources have labeled as a Ballinger resident, but contemporary sources suggest he did not move to Ballinger until after college), and 1894 halfback Robert Roy Smith (a lifelong Austin resident).

Austin High has operated on several campuses in its 140+ year history, but has always been in fairly close proximity to the University of Texas, and its current location on the Colorado River is less than two miles southwest of UT. Austin High’s location(s) alone makes it unsurprising that it would have sent a lot of student-athletes to “the state university” over the years. And there is also the fact that Austin High was the Austin school district’s only high school for white students for essentially the first 60 years of Longhorn football, and its football heyday was several years before the UT football program awarded its first scholarship to a black player in 1968.

The Austin Maroons never dominated a decade in the same way that aforementioned schools like Amarillo and Waco did in the 1920s and 1930s, but they rarely had a losing season in the first half of the 20th century. They reached at least the state semifinal round of the football playoffs six times between 1921 and 1957, winning their only state championship in 1942 and losing to Wichita Falls in consecutive state finals in 1949 and 1950. The school made its last great playoff run during the tenure of Jim Tolbert, who had been a Longhorn tackle in the 1930s and was Austin High’s head coach from 1954 to 1969. In 1957, Austin went undefeated in the regular season and won its first two playoff games before falling 14-6 in the state semifinals to eventual runner-up Port Arthur Jefferson. Austin has reached the postseason a number of times since then but has not won a playoff game since 1957.

Austin ISD opened six new high schools between 1953 and 1968, and the district’s first desegregation efforts came in the mid-1950s. It was the opening of John H. Reagan High School (now Northeast Early College High School) in 1965 that effectively ended Austin High’s dominance of the local high school football scene. Reagan’s attendance zone included University Junior High, a feeder school that had provided many of Austin High’s top players for several years. Reagan’s early teams were coached by Austin High alum and Longhorn football letterman Travis Raven, and they had almost immediate success, winning state titles in 1967, 1968, and 1970, and losing by a touchdown to Earl Campbell’s Tyler John Tyler team in the 1973 state final. Between 1967 and 2002, Reagan won 19 district titles in football.

Ten Reagan alums would win multiple letters at Texas between 1968 and 1984, and as it ascended in the ranks of talent-producing high schools, Austin High descended. Though Austin High laps the field in the total number of Longhorns it has produced, it barely makes the top ten when looking just at the post-integration era (see: the list at the end of this post). Most of the ten Maroons to have won letters at UT since 1970 were walk-ons, and only two (1970s split end Dean Campbell and early 2010s offensive lineman Mark Buchanan) were multi-year lettermen.

Though Austin High has not been a notable producer of college football talent over the past 60 years (current Longhorn redshirt freshman QB Charles Wright notwithstanding), it would be impossible to tell the story of Texas Longhorns football without mentioning Austin High and the many, many players and team captains it contributed to the program. Below are capsules on 13 of them, and I’ve very likely missed others who were important to the team’s fortunes during their time.

Most notable UT lettermen from Austin High

William “Billy” McLean (1893-94) grew up in Mount Pleasant, and his father (also named William McLean) was a former Confederate officer, a judge, and a one-time U.S. Congressman. The younger McLean attended high school in Austin, and went on to receive a B.A. in 1893 from Southwestern Presbyterian University in Clarksville, Tennessee (which moved to Memphis three decades later and was eventually renamed Rhodes College). He then returned to Texas and enrolled at UT as a law student that same year. He played quarterback on the first two UT football teams in 1893 and 1894, over a decade before the forward pass was legalized. After graduating with a bachelor of laws degree in 1895, he had a long and noteworthy career as a criminal defense attorney in Fort Worth.

Walter Wooldridge Fisher (1895) was the quarterback of the 1895 UT football team, won three letters with the baseball team, and was the school’s first track & field team captain. He was one of the first two men to be awarded letters in three sports at UT.

Marshall Ramsdell (1909-11) was a member of arguably the most prominent athletic family in UT’s early history. His older brothers Robert and Fred “Tex” Ramsdell both played football at Texas in the first decade of the 1900s, and the latter was a three-sport standout before transferring to the University of Pennsylvania and winning All-America honors as a halfback at that school in 1910. (Another older brother, Charles Ramsdell, was a longtime history professor at UT.) For his part, Marshall was a three-year letterman in football and played both halfback and tackle. He was described in one 1910 news article as, “a giant, standing six feet and weighing 190 pounds”, and also as “a heady, consistent player and uses good judgement in directing and leading an attack.” He was elected team captain for the 1911 season and was the Longhorns’ left tackle, and also occasionally was a ball-carrier near the goal line. He was named to multiple “all-Texas” teams published by reporters, coaches, and observers that year, including TCU’s head coach Henry Lever.

Maxey Hart (1916, 19-20) was an All-SWC end in 1916 in his second year at UT, and in the following spring was captain of the Longhorn baseball team. He served in the Army for two years during World War I, then returned to school and won another two letters in football and served as team captain in 1920. He won a total of four letters in baseball (1916-17, 19-20) during his college career.

Bibb Falk (1918-19) was born in Austin to parents who were Swedish immigrants. After starring in football and baseball at Austin High, he was a two-year letterman with the Longhorn football team and won three letters in baseball (1918-20). He was the starting right tackle on the 1919 football team and made at least one newspaper’s All-SWC first team. Baseball was his best sport, and though he was far from the first UT athlete to play in the major leagues, he was the first to have a long professional career in baseball. He joined the Chicago White Sox after playing for the Longhorn baseball team in the spring of 1920, and made his pro debut on July 17 of that year. He went on to play in the American League for parts of 12 seasons (1920-31) and compiled a career batting average of .314. He became UT’s head baseball coach in 1940, and in his 25 seasons in that post the Longhorns won 20 Southwest Conference titles and were College World Series champions in 1949 and 1950. He is the partial namesake of Disch-Falk Field.

Oscar Eckhardt (1922-23) was an all-around athlete during his time at UT, and later played professionally in two sports. He was a two-year letterman playing halfback in football, was an outstanding pitcher and hitter for three years on the Longhorn baseball team (1922-24), and won a basketball letter in 1923. He also appears to have participated in track & field as a shot put thrower for at least one season, but he did not letter in that sport. He was an All-SWC halfback in 1923, and an All-SWC pitcher in 1924. After college he had a long baseball career, though virtually all of it was spent in the minor leagues. He played in parts of 14 minor league baseball seasons between 1925 and 1940, suiting up for his final season at age 38 with the Dallas Rebels of the Texas League. He had two brief appearances at the Major League level, making eight at-bats as a pinch hitter with the Boston Braves in 1932, and playing in 16 games with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1936. He also played in the NFL for one season with the New York Giants in 1928.

Harold Fischer (1941-42, 44) was a three-year letterman who played guard and halfback. After starting at guard for Texas in 1942, Fischer was one of seven Longhorns who were transferred to Southwestern University in nearby Georgetown as part of the Navy’s V-12 officer training program. Fischer and the other six ex-Longhorns were starters on a 1943 Southwestern Pirates team that went 10-1-1 overall, dealt Texas its only loss of the season by a 14-7 score in an early October game played in Austin, and won the 1944 Sun Bowl on New Year’s Day. Fischer was named an honorable mention All-American guard by the AP in 1943, then he returned to UT for his final college season in 1944 and was a team captain. Head coach Dana X. Bible called him “the best guard at Texas in eight years”, but he was moved from guard to blocking back that season due to a lack of depth at that position, and he was named to the UPI’s All-SWC first team and the AP’s All-SWC second team.

Jim Canady (1943, 46-47) was one of five future UT lettermen who played on Austin High’s 1942 state championship team. He played halfback for the Longhorns for three seasons, with a stint in the Navy separating his first and second season by three years. In 1946 he made the UPI’s All-SWC second team and the AP’s All-America honorable mention team, and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram rated him as one of the conference’s best receivers. He made the AP’s All-SWC third team as a senior in 1947, and was once again an honorable mention All-American. He was picked in the 5th round (35th overall) of the 1947 NFL Draft and played in the league for two seasons.

Kenneth Jackson (1948-50) played tackle for the Longhorns and made the AP’s All-SWC first team and All-America honorable mention team as a senior in 1950. He was picked in the 2nd round (22nd overall) of the 1951 NFL Draft and played pro football for six seasons. He played for the NFL’s Dallas Texans in 1952 during that franchise’s first and only season (this team was unrelated to the later AFL franchise of the same name that eventually moved to Kansas City and became the Chiefs). After one year in Dallas, he played for the Baltimore Colts during the first five seasons of that franchise’s existence (1953-57).

Ben Proctor (1948-50) was the younger brother of Leslie Proctor, a 1942 Longhorn letterman. Ben graduated from Austin High in 1945, then served in the Navy during the final year of World War II. He enrolled at Texas after his discharge and joined the Longhorn football team. He was UT’s leading receiver for three straight seasons, and his 43 receptions and 724 receiving yards in the 1949 season were both single-season team records that stood until the late 1980s. In that 1949 season he made the UPI’s All-SWC second team and the AP’s All-America honorable mention team. As a senior the following year, he made the AP’s All-SWC first team and was once again an honorable mention All-American. He was picked in the 4th round of the 1950 NFL Draft but did not play pro football. He instead had a long career as a history professor at TCU.

Delano Womack (1953-55) was a three-year letterman who led the Longhorns in scoring as a sophomore with seven touchdowns, and as a senior halfback in 1955 he made the AP’s All-SWC second team and was an honorable mention All-American.

Mike Cotten (1959-61) was UT’s starting quarterback for two years. As a senior in 1961 he led the Southwest Conference with seven touchdown passes (yes, it was a very different era for football). In that season he was named to the AP’s All-SWC first team and was an AP honorable mention All-American, and his passing skills helped the Longhorns finish 10-1 that season with a 12-7 win over fifth-ranked Mississippi in the Cotton Bowl.

Johnny Treadwell (1960-62) was the last of a long line of Longhorn greats to come from Austin High. He played offensive guard and linebacker at UT, and as a senior he was named a consensus All-American. He famously made two game-altering defensive plays in UT’s 7-3 win over seventh-ranked Arkansas that season, forcing a fumble near the goal line in the 3rd quarter with Arkansas leading 3-0, and later forcing a turnover on downs with a 4th down tackle at the Texas 12-yard line. He did not play pro football after college but had a long career as a veterinarian.

And there you have it! The full top ten high schools that have historically produced the most Texas Longhorn football lettermen are as follows:

1. Austin High - 73
2. Port Arthur High/Jefferson - 24
3. (tie) Austin Westlake - 23
old Waco High - 23
5. Amarillo - 22
6. (tie) Houston High/Central/Sam Houston - 20
Wichita Falls - 20
8. Longview - 18
9. Houston Lamar - 17
10. Tyler High/John Tyler - 16

In Part One I also mentioned the two immediate runner-ups, which both have one fewer letterman than Tyler High.

Baytown Lee

By my count, there have been 35 high schools that have produced ten or more Longhorn lettermen, and the map in this story’s header photo has a dot for each of them. All those aside from the dozen named above have produced between 10 and 13 lettermen. Those 35 schools are, in alphabetical order:

Austin High
Austin McCallum
Austin Reagan/Northeast
Austin Westlake
Baytown Lee
Dallas High/Bryan Street/Crozier Tech
Dallas Woodrow Wilson
Fort Worth High/Central/Paschal
Galveston Ball
Highland Park
Houston High/Central/Sam Houston
Houston Lamar
Houston Reagan/Heights
Odessa Permian
Port Arthur High/Jefferson
San Angelo High/Central
San Antonio Academy
San Antonio Churchill
San Antonio High/Main Avenue/Fox Tech
San Antonio Jefferson
Spring Branch Memorial
Texas City
Tyler High/John Tyler
old Waco High
Wichita Falls

Modern day UT pipeline schools

A number of schools mentioned in this series have produced many Longhorns historically but aren’t relevant as football talent pipelines today, and thus the list will be less interesting to some readers than one that ranks the top pipelines of the “modern” era. Opinions may differ on when the modern era of Longhorn football began, but I think 1970 is the best choice. 1970 was a landmark year for the Longhorn football program, as Julius Whittier became the school’s first black letterman one year after the 1969 Longhorn squad became the last all-white team to win a national championship (Whittier was a freshman at UT in 1969, and it was not until 1972 that the NCAA dropped its rule preventing college freshmen from playing varsity football). This long overdue milestone expanded the “who” and “where” of UT’s football recruiting focus going forward. Two other important events for the progress of UT football happened when star running back Roosevelt Leaks became the program’s first black All-American in 1973, and the first black team captain a year later.

The top talent-producing high schools of UT football’s post-integration era are a very different group than the ones it drew players from for its first 77 seasons, and only five of the top ten all-time pipelines also make the list of the top ten letterman-producing schools from 1970 to today. The numbers aren’t as high or as spread out for this group and there are a lot of ties, and since I’ve counted an even 30 schools that produced seven or more Longhorn lettermen between 1970 and 2021, I will list all 30 of them instead of limiting it to ten.

The 30 high schools producing the most UT lettermen from 1970 to 2021

1. Austin Westlake - 23
2. (tie) Port Arthur Jefferson - 13
San Antonio Churchill - 13
4. (tie) Brenham - 12
Spring Branch Memorial - 12
6. (tie) Austin Reagan/Northeast - 11
Odessa Permian - 11
Tyler John Tyler/High - 11
9. (tie) Longview - 10
Austin High - 10
11. (tie) Austin LBJ - 9
Jersey Village - 9
Round Rock Westwood - 9
14. (tie) Dallas Carter - 8
DeSoto - 8
Houston Lamar - 8
Richardson Lake Highlands - 8
Southlake Carroll - 8
19. (tie) Amarillo - 7
Austin Anderson - 7
Austin McCallum - 7
Dallas Skyline - 7
Galena Park North Shore - 7
Houston Lee/Wisdom - 7
Houston Spring Woods - 7
Lake Travis - 7
Plano - 7
San Angelo Central - 7
Sherman - 7
Texas City - 7

Thanks once again for reading, and I hope you found these posts educational. If you enjoyed them, I may be back with some more “Where did past Longhorns come from?” content in the future.