Few states contribute top players to the NFL like Texas, with its thriving college and high school programs that turn out some of the best talent in professional football.
Right now, there are over 200 NFL players who hailed from Texas. One of the most successful Texas products is two time Super Bowl winner Danny Amendola, who moved to the Patriots in 2013 after spells with the Eagles, the Cowboys, and the Rams. Amendola attended The Woodlands High School and Texas Tech, where he ranks third in all-time punt returns and yardage. He has developed into a key player for the Patriots, particularly in the playoffs, and he is likely to play a major role again next season for New England, who will once again start their campaign as the clear Super Bowl favorites with NFL bettors.
However, Amendola, along with other current NFL stars such as Drew Brees and Adrian Peterson, is just one of the latest players to come off the Texas talent conveyor belt. Here is a selection of five of the greatest NFL performers to come out of the Lone Star state.
Born in Santa Anna, Texas, Layne attended Highland Park High School. As a senior, he earned a spot on the all-state football team, took part in the Oil Bowl All-Star game, and guided Highland Park to the state playoffs. He went on to become one of the University of Texas’ most successful quarterbacks, selected for four consecutive All-Southwest Conference teams from 1944 to 1947, and becoming one of the first inductees into the Cotton Bowl Hall of Fame.
In his 15 years in the NFL, Layne left a legacy of leadership, courage, and determination, and under the guidance of coach Raymond Parker, led the Detroit Lions to three Divisional titles and two NFL crowns. In the 1953 title game, Layne enjoyed his most famous performance, steering his team to an 80-yard touchdown drive to earn a 17-16 victory. He went on to inspire the Pittsburgh Steelers to some of their most successful seasons.
Brought up in San Antonio, Holmes starred for Marshall High School, recording 2,031 rushing yards and 26 touchdowns in his senior year and being named as offensive player of the year by his local paper. At the University of Texas, he managed 1,276 yards and achieved the sixth-highest single-season touchdown total in the college’s history.
Holmes entered the NFL as a rookie free agent with the Baltimore Ravens in 1997 and made his breakthrough a year later, going on to feature in the Ravens’ Super Bowl win in 2000. However, it was at the Kansas City Chiefs that Holmes would fulfil his potential, winning a Pro Bowl spot and accumulating numerous achievements and awards, including the single-season rushing yards record, the NFL rushing title, and being named offensive player of the year in 2002.
Running-back Campbell led John Tyler High School to the State Championship in 1973, and was named the national high school player of the year. Opting for Texas over Oklahoma, Campbell became the first University of Texas player to win the Heisman Memorial Trophy and was named as the college football player of the year, finishing his college football career with 40 rushing touchdowns in as many appearances.
Drafted by the Houston Oilers, Campbell made an immediate impact, being named as Rookie of the Year and MVP in 1978, winning the league rushing championship and earning a spot on the AFC Pro Bowl team. He continued to hit the heights during the following two seasons, and in 1980, rushed for 1,934 yards, gaining 200 yards on four separate occasions. The four-time winner of the AFC rushing title, he missed only six games through injury in his career and retired in 1986 with his place as one of the NFL’s greats secured.
Born in Fort Worth, Clayborn featured as running back and defensive back for Green B. Trimble Technical High School. He was a two-time All-American and All-Southwest Conference player and college MVP in 1976. Drafted in 1977 by the New England Patriots, he went on to be one of their most successful defensive backs of all time, being chosen for three Pro Bowls, three All-Pro teams, and helping the Patriots to reach Super Bowl XX. The 36 interceptions that he recorded in a 13-year career remains a team record.
Nobis, who sadly passed away at the age of 74 last December, was one of the NFL’s greatest linebackers. A native of San Antonio, Nobis was a star for the University of Texas, on both sides of the line, where his number 60 shirt is one of only six to have been retired. He was named as the best defender in college football by Sports Illustrated and was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons, for whom he would become a beloved star.
In his rookie year, he averaged 21 tackles a game, which remains a franchise record, and despite playing for a relatively unsuccessful team, he was described by former Falcons coach Dan Reeves as the best middle linebacker he had ever played against, ahead of the likes of Dick Butkus and Ray Nitschke. He was inducted into the College Hall of Fame in 1981.
The careers of these all-time greats underlines the pre-eminence of Texas as a producer of NFL talent, and with players such as Amendola, Brees, Peterson, and dozens of others currently enriching the league, that legacy continues.
Brought To You By