The Longhorn Network has revealed the winner of a bracket challenge that determined the greatest athlete in the history of the University of Texas. It was a tough choice in the eyes of many Longhorns, with Vince Young and Earl Campbell going head-to-head in the final round.
The "Tyler Rose," Earl Campbell, ran away with the final votes. Before facing Young in the final round, Heisman-winning running back Campbell beat out James Street in the semi-finals, a quarterback who also led UT to a national championship. Young beat out Heisman-winning running back Ricky Williams in the semi-finals, preventing an even more epic showdown that would have featured two of the greatest running backs in college football history.
Campbell vs. Young will continue to incite debates, but Campbell is the correct choice for UT’s greatest athlete.
Campbell never delivered a national championship like Young, but we can't forget that Young had one hell of a supporting cast. Fans will forever visualize Young as the player who ran in the winning touchdown against USC in the final seconds of the 2006 Rose Bowl, but he did it with a team that produced a total of 24 players that entered the NFL as draft picks or free agents.
Young was a great athlete who also happened to be on the right team at the right time, a luxury that Campbell didn’t have. Campbell was the definition of an "impact player" when he first stepped on as a freshman in 1974, rushing for 928 yards in the regular season and breaking 1,000 yards in his sophomore year. But Campbell faced a rocky junior season, starting off with a hamstring injury in the summer of 1976 and playing on a Longhorn team that sputtered to a record of 5-5-1.
That was the year that Texas’ greatest coach, Darrell K Royal, retired and Fred Akers took over. A major staff change following an injury would trip up many great athletes, Campbell instead had a senior season that put him in the record books and brought home UT’s first Heisman trophy. Even with a sub-par junior season, Campbell is the No. 3 as all-time rushing leader at UT.
And unlike some of UT’s other legendary players, Campbell became one of the most dominant running backs in NFL history. No matter what level he was playing on, Campbell could make any other player feel like he was a Pee Wee player trying to stop a rampaging bull. In fact, it seems that Bevo is the only defender who could stop Earl Campbell in his tracks.