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Texas & NFL Draft: Back To The Future

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As Scipio points out, the NFL draft has ignored Texas for half a decade, but Tom Herman is working hard to bring back the 80’s.

Oklahoma State v Texas Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

I’m old.

Really, really old.

I have vague memories of my first game at Memorial stadium. My older sister took me to the knothole section in the north end zone to watch Texas edge Georgia 13-8 in 1958. Texas led 7-0 in the 4th quarter when the Bulldogs saw a 4th quarter rally -- led by sophomore QB Fran Tarkenton —fall just short.

Like I said, I’m old.

And While Scipio reminds us how far Texas has fallen over the past decade, I reach back a little farther. Over 35 years ago, we had a coach who brought in a staff full of young aggressive recruiters with the the belief that while you cultivate Texas HS talent to the fullest, there is no law that says you can’t go elsewhere to find players.

I have always felt that the most under appreciated aspect of the Fred Akers Era at Texas was his willingness to turn loose his staff to go wherever the players were.

After a few years, the NFL took notice.

Akers took over for Darrell Royal in 1977, so the 1981 NFL draft was the first with “his players”. Only three Longhorns went in the draft that year, but a couple of names will sound familiar. Linebacker Robin Sendlein went to the Minnesota Vikings in the 2nd round, and OL Les Studdard was taken by Kansas City in the 10th round.

Then the floodgates opened up. In 1984 Twelve Longhorns were taken in the NFL draft, with eleven going in the first 8 rounds (30 teams). Kenneth Sims was the first name off the board as the All-American defensive tackle went to the New England Patriots. Linebacker Bruce Scholtz, offensive tackle Terry Tausch and tight end Lawrence Sampleton all went in the 2nd round.

The 1982 team was mostly underclassmen so only two players went in the 1983 NFL draft — Kiki DeAyala and Herkie Walls.

The 1983 Texas squad was pretty damn good. So good that it would break your heart. But enough about that. Eighteen Longhorn football players were taken in the 1984 NFL draft.

18.

Defensive back Mossy Cade was the 6th player chosen by the Chargers (and traded to Green Bay). The USFL was in business back then and Texas’ outstanding center, Mike Ruether, had been drafted and signed by the Los Angeles Express. The NFL held a supplemental draft in June of 1984 and Ruether was taken by St. Louis — and ended up with the Cards.

Doug Dawson went in the 2nd round to St. Louis, DE Ed Williams was drafted by New England. John Haines went to Minnesota in the 7th round and played 6 years in the league.

To give you an idea of the depth of talent on that 1983 Texas squad, 35 players from it were eventually drafted into the NFL. 30 of them made an opening day roster and and 24 lasted long enough to put in a total of 150 seasons in the league.

We have gone over several times the rise and fall of the Akers regime, so I won’t take the time right now to dig up those bones. But from 1977-83, Texas went 66-17-1, against a schedule where 36% of all their games were against ranked opponents.

The Horns finished in the Top 5 three times, top 10 five times. There was always the WTF? loss that would muck up the season, but that era was full of Texas teams that lined up against anyone and punished opponents with quick, brutal defenses.

They were also teams that took advantage of the Texas brand that Royal had built and brought in more than a few out of state players who made a significant impact on the program. Some continued to contribute through their bloodline.

Robin Sendlein — Las Vegas, NV.

A.J. “Jam” Jones — Youngstown, OH

Rodney Tate — Beggs, OK

Mossy Cade — Eloy, AZ

Jeff Leiding — Tulsa, OK

June James — Kansas City, MO

Mike Ruether — Shawnee, Mountain, KS

In just 4 months Tom Herman has shown his willingness to go OOS - even into Oklahoma, to find football players. I think the NFL draft is about to be a fun off-season distraction for Texas fans once again.

I may be old, but I plan on sticking around long enough to see it happen.