Few states contribute top players to the NFL like Texas, with its thriving college and high school football programs that turn out some of the best talent in professional football.
Right now, there are over 200 NFL players from Texas in the NFL. One of the most successful current Texas products is two time Super Bowl champion with the New England Patriots, Danny Amendola. Amendola, who signed with the Miami dolphins this year, joined the patriots Patriots in 2013 after spells with the Eagles, Cowboys, and Rams. Amendola attended The Woodlands High School and Texas Tech.
Here is a list of our top 5 all-time greatest NFL players from Texas.
5. Bobby Layne
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.
Layne was originally drafted by the Steelers, but traded to the Chicago Bears where he began his career in 1948. He then went on to the New York Bulldogs in 1949, and the Detroit Lions from 1950-58.
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 Championships. 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. Fate brought Layne to back the Steelers for the final years of his career, 1958-62, where he brought his leadership and competitiveness to a team that needed it.
In his book, “My 75 Years with the Steelers,” Dan Rooney Sr. wrote about Layne’s arrival in Pittsburgh after picking him up at the airport.
“He questioned me the whole way, wanting to know everything about the players, the coaches and the city,” wrote Rooney.
“From the time his foot hit the ground on the field at South Park, Bobby Layne was in charge. He was that kind of guy, always in command.”
“I just hope I can do as well for Buddy as I did in Detroit,” Layne told the reporters when he arrived in Pittsburgh.
In his first full season with the Steelers Layne completed 142 passes for 1,986 yards and 20 touchdowns. In his second year with the Steelers he threw for 1,814 yards and 13 touchdowns, and in 1960, 1,205 yards and 11 touchdowns in just eight games in 1961, and 1,686 yards and nine touchdowns in 1962, his final season.
Layne finished his amazing career with 1,814 completions for 26,768 yards and 196 touchdowns in 175 career games, but once stated his biggest disappointment in football was never winning a championship for Art Rooney Sr.
4. Priest Holmes
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 fulfill 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.
3. Raymond Clayborn
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. In 2017 Clayborn was inducted into the New England patriots Hall of Fame.
2. Tommy Nobis
Nobis 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 Jersey 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 and inducted to the Atlanta Falcons Ring Of Honor in 2014.
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.
1. Earl Campbell
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 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 NFL’s rushing title 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 secured as one of the NFL’s greatest player of all time. Earl was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall Of Fame in 1991.
With so many great players to chose from this was a tough list to make. Let us know who you think belongs in the Top 5 Greatest NFL players from Texas in the comments below or on our Facebook or Twitter.
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