The 2023 induction class of the University of Texas Athletics Hall of Honor was announced on August 15, and among the 11 new members of the Hall will be former Texas Longhorn football stalwarts Quan Cosby and Jonathan Scott. The 2023 induction ceremony is scheduled to take place on Friday, September 15.
Cosby and Scott were both four-year lettermen and members of UT’s 2005 national championship team, widely regarded as one of the greatest teams in NCAA football history. Scott was an All-American left tackle that year, his senior season with the program, while Cosby was a 22-year-old freshman wide receiver in his first year of college athletics following four years of playing minor league baseball.
The Texas Athletics Hall of Honor was created in 1957 to honor the athletes, coaches, administrators, trainers, and other individuals who have made significant contributions to the University of Texas, both on the field and off. The first former Longhorn athlete named to the Hall in its inaugural induction class was Louis Jordan, a star guard on UT’s football team from 1911 to 1914, who in 1914 became the first player from any Texas college to be named to a Walter Camp All-America team, and four years later was killed in action while serving in the U.S. Army during World War I.
The Hall of Honor will include no less than 213 former UT football lettermen (about 9% of the program’s all-time lettermen) among its number following the additions of Cosby and Scott. The most recent inductee in terms of when he last played for the Longhorns is Sam Acho, a 2022 inductee who was a senior during the 2010 football season. Nearly every UT football team from the program’s beginning through Sam Acho’s senior year is represented in the Hall of Honor. In fact, out of the 118 varsity football teams that UT had in that period of time, there are only three that do not have a single letterman in the Hall: the 1893 and 1894 teams (the first two official UT football squads), and the 1902 team.
The 2005 BCS National Championship team will have 11 members in the Hall of Honor following the addition of Cosby and Scott. Is that the most of any UT football roster? Not by a long shot. In fact, it’s not in the top five, nor is it even the most for a Mack Brown-coached team.
Which Longhorn football teams can currently boast of having the most members in the Hall of Honor? Ten of the top fourteen teams on that list date back to the Darrell Royal era (1957-76), and the roster that tops the list is probably not the first one most fans would guess. In this post I will list the Longhorn football teams with the most lettermen who are now in the Texas Athletics Hall of Honor.
A pair of caveats about the Hall of Honor should be noted first. One is that many Longhorn greats — especially from the first five decades of UT football — were multi-sport athletes, and some gridiron Longhorns who are Hall of Honor inductees received that distinction more because of their accomplishments in other sports, or because of their contributions to the University away from the athletic fields.
Keifer Marshall, who was inducted in 1996, became a member of the Hall less because of his performance on the field as an 18-year-old freshman center in 1943 (his only season to win a varsity letter) and more because of his off-field accomplishments, which included serving in the Marines during World War II (he survived the Battle of Iwo Jima), many years of involvement with the T-Association and other UT alumni groups, and his two terms as mayor of his hometown of Temple, Texas.
Keith Moreland, inducted in 1985, is in the Hall not because of the five games he played as a backup defensive back for the 1973 football team, but because he was a three-time All-American with the Longhorn baseball team and later a 12-year Major League Baseball veteran. (Moreland’s brief football career at UT is so forgotten that he is not even listed in the program’s “complete list of football players enshrined in the Texas Athletics Hall of Honor”.) Still, players like them are far more the exception than the rule, and they count just as much toward the Hall of Honor numbers for the 1943 and 1973 Longhorn teams as any All-American player those rosters had.
Another caveat is that not all future Hall of Honor members from a particular team were at or even close to the peak of their college career in that season. The 1977 Longhorn team, which rode Earl Campbell’s Heisman Trophy-winning exploits to an 11-0 regular season and a #1 AP ranking before a 38-10 loss to Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl, has eight members in the Hall of Honor. That’s the same number as the Longhorn team that went 9-3 the following year, and one less than the 1976 team, which compiled a record of 5-5-1.
Six future Hall of Honor inductees were lettermen on John Mackovic’s last Longhorn team, which went 4-7 in 1997. Mack Brown’s first two teams (1998-99), which had records of 9-3 and 9-5, likewise had six lettermen who are now in the Hall.
So we can safely say that the preponderance or paucity of future Hall of Honor members on a given roster is not always indicative of how solid that team was. Within living memory, one of the best (and most lamented) Longhorn squads was the 1983 team, which had a middling offense but rode perhaps the most dominating defense in school history to an 11-0 regular season record and allowed a mere nine points per game while being ranked 2nd in the country for essentially the entire year. Sadly, that team fell in heartbreaking fashion by a 10-9 score to 7th-ranked Georgia in the Cotton Bowl, dashing their national championship hopes. As of 2023, that 1983 team has just four members in the Hall of Honor, three of whom were defensive players (Jerry Gray, Tony Degrate, and James Lott) and the other an offensive lineman (Doug Dawson).
Only Sam Acho and Jordan Shipley are in the Hall of Honor to represent the 2009 team that won its first 13 games before falling to Alabama in the BCS National Championship game, though that team’s record-setting quarterback Colt McCoy is a sure bet for a future induction, which is probably being delayed until his NFL career comes to an end and he’s able to attend an induction ceremony that takes place during the football season.
New inductees are typically selected no sooner than ten years after the end of their college careers, though most will wait far longer than that. Some have waited a half-century or longer. Rene Ramirez, who died earlier this year, was inducted into the Hall in 2013, 54 years after he was an all-conference halfback as a senior at Texas in 1959. Semp Russ, a star quarterback at UT in the pre-forward pass era and a 1904 Olympic tennis player, was 91 years old and nearly 70 years removed from the end of his UT athletic career when he was inducted in 1969.
All of those caveats and notes aside, it’s still an interesting exercise seeing which Longhorn rosters had the most players whose overall contributions to the program and the University of Texas were later deemed to make them worthy of inclusion into the Hall of Honor. So with all of that being said, here is the top ten (with ties) in ascending order.
Texas Longhorn football rosters with the most Texas Athletics Hall of Honor inductees
10. 1941, 1959, 1967, 1974, and 2004 (tie) - 10 players
A five-way tie prevents this ranking from having an even ten teams, as these five rosters can all boast ten lettermen who are now in the Hall of Honor. These are the bottom five out of the 14 Longhorn teams that have a double-digit number of inductees.
1941 team inductees: Jack Crain, Chal Daniel, Noble Doss, Jack Freeman, Henry Harkins, Malcolm Kutner, Pete Layden, Stan Mauldin, Joe Parker, and Wallace Scott
The legendary 1941 Longhorns were the first UT squad to be ranked #1 in an Associated Press poll, and 14 members of the team were famously featured on the cover of Life magazine in November of that year. It was perhaps one of the earliest teams to fall victim to a magazine cover jinx, as the Longhorns started off 6-0 to ascend to the top of the rankings before tying Baylor 7-7 on the weekend before the publication of their Life magazine cover story, and then losing 14-7 to TCU the following week. (Upset losses to TCU would be a theme for national championship contending Longhorn teams from the early 1940s through the early 1960s.) They rebounded to dominate Texas A&M and Oregon in their final two games to finish 8-1-1 and were 4th in the season’s final AP poll.
The ten members of the 1941 team who were eventually inducted into the Texas Hall of Honor included six All-Americans (Crain, Daniel, Kutner, Layden, Mauldin, and Parker), three team captains (Layden in 1941, Scott in 1942, and Parker in 1943), a first team NFL All-Pro (Kutner in 1948), and the first player to have his jersey retired by the NFL’s Cardinals franchise (Stan Mauldin, who died after suffering a heart attack in the Chicago Cardinals locker room after the first game of the 1948 NFL season). This was arguably the best team in the first half-century of UT’s football history, and it’s the only team coached by Dana X. Bible to have a double-digit number of Hall of Honor members.
1959 team inductees: Jack Collins Jr., Mike Cotten, David Kristynik, Bobby Lackey, Monte Lee, Jim Bob Moffett, Ed Padgett, Rene Ramirez, James Saxton, and Don Talbert
The 1959 Longhorns went 9-2 in Darrell Royal’s third season as head coach, though most of its members who are now in the Hall of Honor were underclassmen who shone brightest in later years. Of its ten inductees, only Bobby Lackey and Rene Ramirez were in their last season with the program, while six others were sophomores who would go on to lead Texas to a 10-1 record as seniors in 1961. Four of the ten players in this group won All-America honors during their Longhorn careers: Collins, Lee, Saxton, and Talbert. Notably, David Kristynik of Bay City and Don Talbert of Texas City both had two younger brothers who were multi-year lettermen with the Longhorns in later years.
1967 team inductees: Bill Bradley, Leo Brooks, Ragan Gennusa, Chris Gilbert, Ted Koy, Mike Perrin, Randy Peschel, Corby Robertson, Loyd Wainscott, and Forrest Wiegand
The 1967 Longhorns went 6-4, with a mid-season six-game winning streak sandwiched between a pair of two-game losing streaks to begin and end the season. Those four losses were by a combined margin of 20 points, and none came by more than seven points. This was Darrell Royal’s 11th season at the helm of UT football, and the third straight season that the team finished with four losses. The wishbone offense was unveiled the following year, and the program would lose just five games total over the next four seasons (1968-71). The 1967 roster would have had a higher total of Hall of Honor inductees, possibly a much higher one, had freshmen been allowed to play varsity sports at the time, as this was the freshman year for UT’s much-ballyhooed 1967 recruiting class, aka the “Worster Bunch”.
As with the 1959 team, the future Hall of Honor members on the 1967 team were mainly underclassmen whose best days were ahead of them. Of the ten players in this group, only Ragan Gennusa was a senior. Gennusa, an acclaimed artist in his post-college years, was inducted into the Hall in 2019, 52 years after his last season as a Longhorn, and just two years before his death in 2021.
1974 team inductees: Marty Akins, Earl Campbell, Raymond Clayborn, Mike Dean, Doug English, Bill Hamilton, Alfred Jackson, Roosevelt Leaks, Brad Shearer, and Bob Simmons
The 1974 team had several undisputed all-time Longhorn greats, and the career accomplishments of this group stack up with those of just about any other single-season group of Hall of Honor member. These ten players included UT’s first Heisman Trophy winner (Earl Campbell), an Outland Trophy winner (Brad Shearer), seven All-Americans, four consensus All-Americans (Roosevelt Leaks, Bob Simmons, Campbell, and Shearer), a Pro Football Hall of Famer (Campbell), three College Football Hall of Fame inductees (Campbell, Leaks, and Doug English), a combined 12 NFL Pro Bowl selections (between Campbell, English, and Raymond Clayborn), and the New England Patriots’ franchise co-leader in career interceptions (Clayborn).
So how did a roster with such a loaded group of Longhorn legends finish with an 8-4 record that included double-digit losses to Baylor and Auburn, as well as the program’s most lopsided loss to Texas Tech up to that point (26-3)? Well, context matters.
Roosevelt Leaks had set Southwest Conference rushing records and was named a consensus All-American the year before, but he was hampered by injuries as a senior in 1974 and was a shell of his peak self. Campbell, Shearer, and Alfred Jackson were all freshmen whose best seasons were well ahead of them. Right tackle Bob Simmons was an All-American in 1974 but would be a consensus All-American as a senior in 1975. And several players had not yet settled into the position they would become stars at. Campbell was a wishbone fullback before having greater success in later seasons as an I-formation tailback, Shearer began his career at offensive tackle before being moved to the defensive line, Jackson started games at defensive back before his full-time move to wide receiver, and Clayborn was still getting snaps at running back as a sophomore in 1974 before permanently being moved to cornerback, the position he played in the NFL for 15 seasons. With the probable exception of senior captain and All-American defensive tackle Doug English, all of the ten Hall of Honor inductees from this team were better in other seasons.
The bulk of the 1974 team’s eventual Hall of Honor members were still with the team the next year when the 1975 Longhorns finished 10-2 and were a fixture in the top ten of the AP rankings for nearly the entire season.
2004 team inductees: Cedric Benson, Justin Blalock, Michael Griffin, Michael Huff, Derrick Johnson, Brian Robison, Aaron Ross, Jonathan Scott, David Thomas, and Vince Young
The 2004 team went 11-1 and was ranked in the top ten all season. Its roster was — stop me if I’ve said this about the previous four teams on this list — dotted with several Longhorn greats, though very few were seniors, and the others would return and help Texas win a national championship the following season. Of the ten players in this group, only Cedric Benson and Derrick Johnson were seniors that season, and both were taken among the top 15 picks of the 2005 NFL Draft. Six of these ten players were All-Americans during their college career, and five won major college football awards. Benson won the Doak Walker Award in 2004, Johnson took home the Butkus Award and Nagurski Trophy in 2004, Michael Huff and Aaron Ross won the Jim Thorpe Award in 2005 and 2006, respectively, and Vince Young won the Davey O’Brien Award, the Manning Award, and the Maxwell Award in 2005.
8. 1963 and 2005 (tie) - 11 players
Two of UT’s four recognized national championship teams are tied in the 8th spot on this list, with each having 11 Hall of Honor inductees (I’m including Quan Cosby and Jonathan Scott in the 2005 team’s figure). The 1963 squad may be done adding to its total at this point, as its most recent addition to the Hall of Honor was inducted in 2012, but the 2005 team will almost certainly have additional players in the Hall in the years to come, as we’re not yet 20 years removed from that season. For comparison, UT’s 1969 national championship team had only three players inducted into the Hall of Honor within 20 years of that season, but over a dozen more were added in the three decades that followed.
1963 team inductees: Scott Appleton, Duke Carlisle, Tommy Ford, Jim Hudson, Ernie Koy, Pete Lammons, David McWilliams, Tommy Nobis, Knox Nunnally, Charlie Talbert, and Olen Underwood
The 1963 Longhorns went 11-0 and capped off the program’s first national championship with a 28-6 win in the Cotton Bowl over 2nd-ranked Navy, which was led by Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback and future Pro Football Hall of Famer Roger Staubach. Five of these eleven players (Appleton, Carlisle, Ford, McWilliams, and Talbert) were seniors who had previously been starters or contributors on UT’s teams that went 10-1 in 1961 (more on that team in a bit) and 9-1-1 in 1962. Four others (Hudson, Koy, Nunnally, and Underwood) were juniors who went on to play on the 1964 Longhorn team that finished 10-1, with its only loss being a 14-13 defeat against an unbeaten Arkansas team. Pete Lammons and Tommy Nobis, the latter of whom tops most any reputable list of the best Longhorn linebackers of all time, were both sophomores in their first season of varsity competition in 1963.
2005 team inductees: Justin Blalock, Jamaal Charles, Quan Cosby, Michael Griffin, Michael Huff, Brian Orakpo, Brian Robison, Aaron Ross, Jonathan Scott, David Thomas, and Vince Young
The Hall of Honor members representing the 2005 national championship team were a near-perfect mix of experienced seniors (Huff, Scott, and Thomas), a generational superstar talent at QB who was a redshirt junior (Young), four juniors who would play one more season in Austin before going on to long NFL careers (Blalock, Griffin, Robison, and Ross), and three freshmen getting their feet wet in Division I football before going on to much bigger things in the years to come (Charles, Cosby, and Orakpo). Seven of these eleven players received All-America recognition, five were consensus All-Americans, and five were first round NFL Draft picks. Vince Young and Michael Huff, the 3rd and 7th overall picks in the 2006 NFL Draft, were the first two members of the team inducted into the Hall of Honor, both joining in 2015.
Other prominent members of this team (some of whom weren’t starters until later seasons) who could see their names in the Hall of Honor one day include Tim Crowder, Cedric Griffin, Ahmard Hall, Tony Hills, Roy Miller, Frank Okam, Lyle Sendlein, and Rodrique Wright, among others.
4. 1960, 1962, 1970, and 2003 (tie) - 12 players each
These four teams all had their day when the Longhorn ship was at a high tide, and all of them save the 1960 squad had players who contributed to a national championship team in other seasons. Many of the players for these four teams have already been mentioned.
1960 team inductees: Jack Collins Jr., Mike Cotten, Pat Culpepper, Johnny Genung, David Kristynik, Monte Lee, Jim Bob Moffett, Bob Moses, Ed Padgett, James Saxton, Don Talbert, and Johnny Treadwell
1962 team inductees: Scott Appleton, Duke Carlisle, Pat Culpepper, Tommy Ford, Johnny Genung, Jim Hudson, Ernie Koy, David McWilliams, Knox Nunnally, Charlie Talbert, Johnny Treadwell, and Olen Underwood
1970 team inductees: Bill Atessis, Jim Bertelsen, James “Happy” Feller, Scott Henderson, Alan Lowry, Eddie Phillips, Jerry Sisemore, Cotton Speyrer, Julius Whittier, Steve Worster, Bob Wuensch, and Bill Zapalac
2003 team inductees: Cedric Benson, Justin Blalock, Michael Griffin, Michael Huff, Derrick Johnson, Brian Robison, Aaron Ross, Jonathan Scott, David Thomas, Nathan Vasher, Roy Williams, and Vince Young
The 1960 Longhorns followed up the first nine-win season of Darrell Royal’s tenure with a disappointing 7-3-1 campaign, with their three losses coming by a combined margin of nine points and the tie by a 3-3 score against Alabama in the Bluebonnet Bowl. These Longhorns allowed seven points or less to eight of their eleven opponents that season. They began the season ranked 4th in the AP poll, but were unranked at season’s end. Of the 12 future Hall of Honor inductees on this team, only Monte Lee and Jim Bob Moffett were seniors.
The 1962 team allowed just 6.5 points per game en route to a 9-1-1 record, and was ranked in the top five throughout the season. They rose to the #1 ranking after a 5-0 start that included a win over 7th-ranked Arkansas, but after a 14-14 tie against Rice they were never ranked higher than 4th for the remainder of the season. Of the dozen future Hall of Honor inductees on this squad, only Pat Culpepper, Johnny Genung, and Johnny Treadwell were seniors. while the nine others all returned the next season and played on UT’s 1963 national championship team.
The 1970 team attempted to defend the previous year’s national championship and was led by the “Worster bunch”, a group of seniors who had signed with Texas in 1967 and proceeded to help the team to arguably its most successful three-year run ever. Though that 1970 season ended with a disappointing Cotton Bowl loss to Notre Dame that snapped a 30-game winning streak, by that season’s end the senior class could claim to have won three Southwest Conference championships and two national titles, and compiled a three-year record of 30-2-1. Despite the postseason loss to Notre Dame, Texas was one of the recognized national champions for the 1970 season due to their #1 ranking in the final UPI coaches poll, which was taken at the close of the regular season and before the bowl games.
Seven of this team’s future Hall of Honor members were seniors, and eight of the twelve won All-America honors during their Longhorn careers. Jerry Sisemore, who was a sophomore in 1970 and was a consensus All-American in both his junior and senior seasons, was inducted into the Hall of Honor in 1980 and became the first member of the 1970 team to receive that distinction. Julius Whittier, who became the program’s first black letterman as a sophomore in 1970 and had a very distinguished post-athletics career, was inducted in 2013.
The 2003 team and its list of players now in the Hall of Honor is, if nothing else, a reminder of how great peak Mack Brown was at recruiting a talented college football roster, even if those rosters didn’t always play up to their talent level. The 2003 season had its share of highlights, including the eventual emergence of highly-rated redshirt freshman Vince Young as the team’s staring QB, wins in consecutive weeks over ranked opponents from Nebraska and Oklahoma State, a 24-20 win over Kansas State after ESPN College GameDay’s second-ever visit to Austin, and a 46-15 victory over Texas A&M that was the Longhorns’ most lopsided win at Kyle Field in 20 years. But that season’s lowlights included a 38-28 loss at home to an unranked Arkansas team, and a “cover-your-eyes” pathetic 65-13 loss to top-ranked Oklahoma in a game that featured six Longhorn turnovers. Though Texas finished with a disappointing 10-3 record in 2003 after opening the season ranked fifth, this marked the first time ever for the program to post double-digit wins in three consecutive seasons, and that streak would eventually reach nine seasons.
Of the dozen Hall of Honor inductees on the 2003 team, only Nathan Vasher and Roy Williams were seniors, while eight of the others were underclassmen who would go on to play in UT’s back-to-back Rose Bowl-winning teams in 2004 and 2005.
3. 1961 - 15 players
1961 team inductees: Scott Appleton, Duke Carlisle, Jack Collins Jr., Mike Cotten, Pat Culpepper, Tommy Ford, Johnny Genung, David Kristynik, David McWilliams, Bob Moses, Ed Padgett, James Saxton, Charlie Talbert, Don Talbert, and Johnny Treadwell
The 1961 Longhorns won their first eight games and held the top spot in the AP rankings for two weeks in November before a shocking 6-0 loss at home to TCU. This was not Darrell Royal’s first highly-ranked Longhorn team, as his previous three squads had all been ranked fourth or higher at some point, and the 1959 team had similarly started 8-0 before a 14-9 loss to TCU. But the disappointment in 1961 was sharper, as UT had decisively beaten each of its first eight opponents by 21 points or more, and that year’s TCU team — despite its win over top-ranked Texas and an equally inexplicable tie in Columbus against an Ohio State team that was ranked 2nd at the end of the season — finished 3-5-2 and was not considered to be nearly as strong as its ranked 1959 team that had dashed UT’s national title hopes that year.
The senior class of the 1961 Longhorn team was made up of players who had signed with Texas in 1958 following Darrell Royal’s first season as head coach. Seven of the 15 players from the 1961 team who are now in the Hall of Honor were in their final season with the program, and six of them had also been lettermen on the 1959 team. Five of the 15 (Appleton, Carlisle, Ford, McWilliams, and Charlie Talbert) were sophomores who were later seniors on UT’s 1963 national championship team, and the group of 1961-63 lettermen led the team to an overall record of 30-2-1, the most wins Texas had ever had in a three-season stretch up to that point.
Six of these 15 players were All-Americans in at least one season, and James Saxton (1961), Johnny Treadwell (1962), and Scott Appleton (1963) were all consensus All-Americans. Saxton finished 3rd in the 1961 Heisman Trophy voting, the highest-ever finish for a Longhorn at the time. Appleton finished 5th in the 1963 Heisman voting, despite playing on the offensive and defensive lines and not at an offensive skill position, and he was also the first Longhorn to win the Outland Trophy.
Saxton became the first member of this team to join the Hall of Honor when he was inducted in 1973. David Kristynik, who was inducted 42 years later in 2015, is the most recent member of that team to join the Hall.
2. 1969 - 17 players
1969 team inductees: Bill Atessis, Jim Bertelsen, Leo Brooks, Tom Campbell, James “Happy” Feller, Scott Henderson, Ted Koy, Bob McKay, Randy Peschel, Eddie Phillips, Cotton Speyrer, Freddie Steinmark, James Street, Forrest Wiegand, Steve Worster, Bob Wuensch, and Bill Zapalac
The 1969 Texas Longhorns are #2 on most rankings of the best teams in school history. That year’s team reached the top of the rankings after winning its first eight games, emphatically ensured that TCU would not derail its championship hopes this time around with a 69-7 win over the Horned Frogs, and beat its first six Southwest Conference opponents by an average margin of 40.8 points before an epic 15-14 comeback win over 2nd-ranked Arkansas on December 6 in “the Game of the Century”. Texas retained the top ranking in both the AP and UPI polls at the end of the regular season, then beat 9th-ranked Notre Dame 21-17 in the Cotton Bowl to clinch the program’s second national championship.
James Street, the team’s starting QB and also a star pitcher for the Longhorn baseball team, was inducted into the Hall of Honor in 1982 and became the first member of the 1969 national championship team to be added. Forrest Wiegand, the 1969 team’s starting center and later a longtime high school football coach, was not enshrined until 2017, almost 50 years after his last game as a Longhorn.
Could still more players from this team join the Hall? One would think that in over fifty years’ time every player deserving of that honor would have been inducted by now. Still, while preparing this post I was surprised to find that the Hall does not include Glen Halsell, a two-time All-Southwest Conference linebacker and a 1969 All-American and team captain who was famously described as “a rolling ball of butcher knives”. (Some sources attribute that quote to Darrell Royal, but it actually came from assistant coach Pat Patterson, who gave that description of Halsell during spring practice in 1967 when Halsell was a freshman. Patterson had been hired by Royal earlier that year after eight seasons as head coach at Amarillo Tascosa, where he had coached against Halsell’s Odessa Permian teams.)
Despite the national championship trophy and plethora of individual honors, the 1969 Texas Longhorns are not the team that has the most lettermen in the Hall of Honor, a distinction that currently goes to its immediate predecessor.
1. 1968 - 20 players
1968 team inductees: Bill Atessis, Bill Bradley, Leo Brooks, Tom Campbell, James “Happy” Feller, Chris Gilbert, Scott Henderson, Ted Koy, Bob McKay, Mike Perrin, Randy Peschel, Corby Robertson, Cotton Speyrer, Freddie Steinmark, James Street, Loyd Wainscott, Forrest Wiegand, Steve Worster, Bob Wuensch, and Bill Zapalac
Though not as successful as the two teams that would follow them, the 1968 Longhorns brought the program back to national prominence after three straight four-loss seasons from 1965 to 1967, and helped set the table for UT’s next two national championships.
This was the year that Darrell Royal and offensive coordinator Emory Bellard unleashed the “wishbone” triple-option offense on college football, a scheme that Oklahoma and Alabama would copy and tweak to great success in the following decade. The 1968 team stumbled to a 0-1-1 start with a season-opening 20-20 tie against Houston and a 31-22 loss to Texas Tech (marking the first time Texas had ever lost to Tech in consecutive seasons), but ended the season on a nine-game winning streak that included wins over ranked opponents from Arkansas, SMU, and Tennessee (in the Cotton Bowl). The Longhorns were 3rd in the final AP poll of 1968 and were not ranked outside of the top five again until mid-way through the 1971 season.
All-Americans Chris Gilbert, Corby Robertson, and Loyd Wainscott were all seniors in 1968, along with quarterback-turned-safety Bill Bradley, a future NFL All-Pro, and linebacker and future Texas Athletic Director Mike Perrin. Gilbert, who played in the era when freshmen weren’t allowed to play on college varsity teams, was the first Longhorn running back to rush for over 1,000 yards in a season, and he did it three times. His school record for career rushing yards stood until Earl Campbell’s Heisman Trophy-winning 1977 season, and no Longhorn rushed for as many yards as Gilbert in their first three seasons until Ricky Williams.
The other 15 players from the 1968 team who are now in the Hall of Honor went on to play for UT’s 1969 national championship aggregation. Chris Gilbert was the first member of the 1968 team to be inducted into the Hall of Honor, joining in 1978. Nineteen of his teammates from that squad were inducted between 1982 (James Street) and 2017 (Forrest Wiegand). A total of 48 players were awarded letters for UT’s 1968 football season, and 20 of them (a remarkable 41.6%) are now in the Texas Athletics Hall of Honor.
So there you have it, the UT football rosters with the most Texas Athletics Hall of Honor inductees are:
1. 1968 — 20 players
2. 1969 — 17 players
3. 1961 — 15 players
4. (four teams tied) — 12 players each
8. (tie) — 11 players each
10. (five teams tied) — 10 players each
As for some of the decades not represented at the top of the list...
The 1996 team and its nine inductees is the most of any Longhorn team from the 1990s.
The 1913 team has eight Hall of Honor members, the same number found on the 1922 and 1925 teams, which leads their respective decades.
The 1939 Longhorns, who finished just 5-4 but had the first winning record of Dana Bible’s tenure and the team’s first in five years, have six members in the Hall of Honor, the most for any team from that decade. All six of those players were sophomores who went on to star on the legendary 1941 team mentioned earlier in this post.
The 1976 team, which finished 5-5-1, has nine inductees. The 1997 team, which finished 4-7 and saw head coach John Mackovic fired at season’s end, has six inductees, the most of any Longhorn team that had a losing record. That’s more than can be found on any UT roster from the 1980s.
The 1981 squad and its five inductees (Mike Baab, Doug Dawson, Jerry Gray, Kenneth Sims, and Terry Tausch) represents the most of any team from a decade that began promisingly but ended being the most nondescript decade of Longhorn football this side of the 1930s.
And the most Hall of Honor members from any UT roster that dates back to before the legalization of the forward pass (1906) and even the earliest use of the name “Longhorns” is the unbeaten 1900 team and its four inductees. When some of the earliest first-hand accounts of UT’s football history were written in the Alcalde (the magazine of the UT ex-students association) in 1915, several observers cited the 1900 team as the best one UT had in the first two decades of its football program’s existence.
Longhorn fans are understandably excited as the 2023 season’s beginning draws near. The roster’s talent ceiling is as high as it has been since the Mack Brown era, and one doesn’t have to squint too hard to find at least nine current Longhorns who could be Hall of Honor candidates down the line if they play up to their potential. We’re a very long way from being able to write the book on the 2023 team or the career capsules for its players, but there is a lot of very promising material from the past two recruiting classes, and we can only hope that they will emulate the successes of the best UT rosters that wore burnt orange before them.