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Earl Campbell comes in at No. 7 on ESPN's Top 150 College Football Players of All Time list

The "Tyler Rose" was honored at halftime of the College Football Playoff between LSU and Clemson.
Credit: Pro Football Hall of Fame

TYLER, Texas — Tyler native Earl Campbell was honored as the seventh best college football player on Monday.

ESPN announced the top 11 players on their 150 greatest players in college football history list during halftime of the College Football Playoff national title game between LSU and Clemson.

The top 11 include:

  • No. 11 - Roger Staubach, QB - Navy
  • No. 10 - Gayle Sayers, RB - Kansas
  • No. 9 - Barry Sanders, RB - Oklahoma State
  • No 8 - Dick Butkus, LB - Illinois
  • No. 7 - Earl Campbell, RB - Texas
  • No. 6 - Red Grange, RB - Ilinois
  • No. 5 - Jim Thorpe, RB - Carlisle
  • No 4 - Archie Griffin, RB - Ohio State
  • No. 3 - Bo Jackson, RB - Auburn
  • No. 2 - Herschel Walker, RB - Georgia
  • No. 1 - Jim Brown, RB - Syracuse

Other notable players in the top 150 included: Walter Payton (RB - Jackson State, No. 16), Hooks High School graduate Billy Sims (RB - Oklahoma, No. 20), Peyton Manning (QB - Tennessee, No 21), O.J. Simpson (RB - USC, No. 25), Deion Sanders (DB - Florida State, No. 26), Jerry Rice (WR - Mississippi Valley State, No. 32), John Elway (QB - Stanford, No. 33), Lawrence Taylor (LB - North Carolina, No. 42), Palestine High School graduate Adrian Peterson (RB - Oklahoma, No. 45), Erick Dickerson (RB - SMU, No. 49), Ricky Williams (RB - Texas, No. 57), Joe Greene (DT - North Texas, No. 62), Emmitt Smith (RB - Florida, No. 70), Tim Tebow (QB - Florida, No. 76), Vince Young (QB - Texas, No. 81), Steve Spurrier (QB - Florida, No. 91), Drew Brees (QB - Purdue, No. 93), Deshaun Watson (QB - Clemson, No. 101), Mike Singletary (LB - Baylor, No. 108), Marcus Mariota (QB - Oregon, No. 117), Michael Vick (QB - Virginia Tech, No. 123), Cam Newton (QB - Auburn, No. 135), Ed Reed (DB - Miami, No. 138) and Baker Mayfield (QB - Oklahoma, No. 150).

In 2019, Campbell was named the Greatest of All Time (GOAT) for East Texas high school football via a contest by our news partners, the Longview News-Journal.


The "Tyler Rose" graduated from John Tyler High School in 1974 before going on to play fullback for the Texas Longhorns.

Campbell was an instant success at Texas, starting at fullback in the Longhorns “Wishbone” attack and rushing for 928 yards and six touchdowns as a freshman in 1974. He claimed the first of his three consensus All-SWC honors that year. As a sophomore, Campbell ran for 1,118 yards and 13 touchdowns, earning his first of two consensus All-America awards. He helped lead Texas to a 10-2 record that year and UT finished the year ranked sixth nationally in the final Associated Press poll. Injuries dampened the glitter on Campbell’s career in 1976, as he missed four games with a pulled hamstring and the Longhorns struggled to a 5-5-1 mark. Campbell, playing on a strained hamstring much of the time, posted a career-low 653 rushing yards and three touchdowns. 

But Campbell galloped into UT football history with his Heisman Trophy-winning 1977 season. He rushed for 1,744 yards (a Southwest Conference record that stood for 16 years) and 19 touchdowns and led the nation in rushing and scoring. The Longhorns held the nation’s top spot for most of the regular season and went on to finish 11-0 before falling to Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl. Texas finished the year ranked No. 4 nationally in the final Associated Press poll. He finished his brilliant career with a then-Longhorns record 4,443 yards and 41 touchdowns. He was the first Longhorn to ever win the honor.

Credit: Heisman.com

After his star-studded collegiate career, Campbell took his talents to the National Football League. Selected No. 1 overall by the Houston Oilers in the 1978 NFL Draft, he quickly made a name for himself. As a rookie, Campbell claimed virtually every award possible including Rookie of the Year, MVP and Offensive Player of the Year. The former Longhorn led the NFL in rushing again in 1979 with 1,697 yards and garnered his second consecutive league MVP and Offensive Player of the Year award.

He finished his playing career with New Orleans before retiring in 1985. Campbell is now a prominent businessman residing in Austin, Texas, and still actively participates in Texas athletics. He currently serves as President of Earl Campbell Meat Products, Inc. which manufactures and sells Earl Campbell’s Smoked Sausage and other food products and barbecue sauce.

In 2012, the Tyler Area Chamber of Commerce and SPORTyler established the Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award which recognizes the top offensive player in Division I football who also exhibits the enduring characteristics that define Earl Campbell: integrity, performance, teamwork, sportsmanship, drive, community, and tenacity; specifically tenacity to persist and determination to overcome adversity and injury in pursuit of reaching goals.

Credit: Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award

In addition, the nominee must meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • Born in Texas
  • Graduated from a Texas high school
  • Played at a Texas junior college
  • Played at a four-year Division I Texas college

Past winners include:

  • 2013 - Bryce Petty, QB - Baylor
  • 2014 - Trevone Boykin, QB - TCU
  • 2015 - Greg Ward Jr., QB - Houston
  • 2016 - D'Onta Foreman, RB - Texas
  • 2017 - Baker Mayfield, QB - Oklahoma
  • 2018 - Kyler Murray, QB - Oklahoma

Finalists for the 2019 award are as follows:

  • CeeDee Lamb, WR - Oklahoma
  • Jalen Hurts, QB - Oklahoma
  • J.K Dobbis, RB - Ohio State
  • Shane Buechele, QB - SMU
  • Charlie Brewer, QB - Baylor

The winner will be announced Wednesday, January 15, during a ceremony at Willow Brook Country Club in Tyler. Ron Franklin will serve as the emcee.

Heisman.com contributed to this report.