Earl Campbell thinks Texas needs a black quarterback to win

Earl Campbell speaks during the Houston Sports Awards on February 8, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images for Houston Sports Awards)
Earl Campbell speaks during the Houston Sports Awards on February 8, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images for Houston Sports Awards)

The legendary Earl Campbell has an idea for Texas football.

The Longhorns dropped to 5-3 and out of the Top 25 following a loss to TCU over the weekend. Campbell, who was a star running back for the Longhorns from 1974 to 1977 before having a Hall of Fame NFL career, told Kirk Bohls of the Austin American-Statesman that he believes Texas needs a black quarterback to succeed at the highest levels of college football.

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Bohls wrote that Campbell, 64, told him he “loves” current Texas starter Sam Ehlinger, who is white, but that UT needs to realize that all the schools “that are winning have black quarterbacks.”

From the Statesman:

“Until the University of Texas realizes you have to have a black quarterback, and nothing against Ehlinger, you got to have a talented, black quarterback,” Campbell said. “All these schools that are winning, even in the pros, have black quarterbacks. When guys are not open, something can still happen.”

Per Bohls, Campbell, who grew up in segregated Tyler, Texas, mentioned former Texas quarterback Vince Young, Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa, Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts, former Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett and Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson. Campbell is especially fond of Hurts, who is in his first season at Oklahoma after transferring from Alabama.

From the Statesman:

Campbell said he really admires Hurts and said they became close friends after the quarterback was a finalist for the Earl Campbell Award. They text each other often. “He reminds me of myself,” Earl said. “He’s a calm individual. He doesn’t get too excited and keeps it all inside. Nick Saban did all he could to kill his motivation. Jalen is one of the most classy individuals I’ve ever seen play sports. It looks like Oklahoma is going to win the Heisman a third year in a row. It looks like he’s not even running, like he’s walking.”

Quarterbacks of all backgrounds have been successful at the collegiate level in recent years. Clemson, the 2018 champions, was led by freshman Trevor Lawrence, who is white. The 2017 Alabama team had Hurts, who is black, and Tagovailoa, who is Samoan-American, as its quarterbacks. The 2016 Clemson team was led by Watson, who is black.

Texas has had predominantly white quarterbacks since Young left Texas for the NFL after leading the Longhorns to the national championship in 2005. But that hasn’t always been the case. Both Tyrone Swoopes and Jerrod Heard saw significant action during the Charlie Strong era. Strong then made the switch to Shane Buechele in 2016 before current UT head coach Tom Herman began playing Ehlinger, another Strong recruit, in 2017. With Ehlinger at quarterback, Texas went 10-4 in 2018. It was the program’s first double-digit win season since 2009.

The one quarterback recruit Herman signed in 2019 was Roschon Johnson, who is black. Due to a barrage of injuries, Johnson — who began the season as the team’s third-string quarterback — has been playing quite a bit of running back this season. Johnson is second on the team with 418 rushing yards. Herman has two in-state quarterbacks verbally committed in the 2020 class: Ja’Quinden Jackson from Duncanville and Hudson Card from Austin. Both are considered four-star prospects by Rivals.

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