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Earl Campbell to Have National College Football Award Named in His Honor

Pro Football Hall of Famer Earl Campbell, a native of Tyler, answers questions from the media during the Wednesday's annual East Texas Kick-Off Luncheon at UT Tyler's Herrington Patriot Center. (Christopher Vinn, ETSN.fm)

TYLER — Pro Football Hall of Famer and Tyler native Earl Campbell will have a major college football award named in his honor.

The announcement was made Wednesday at the seventh annual East Texas Kick-Off Luncheon at UT Tyler’s Herrington Patriot Center.

The Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award will be presented yearly to the nation’s most outstanding FBS college offensive player beginning at the conclusion of the 2013 season at an awards banquet in Tyler. The player must also classify as a senior academically.

“All my life all I wanted to do was be an athlete,” Campbell said. “My family was in the rose business, but I wasn’t in the rose business. I didn’t like that. … I always wanted to do something with a football. When I found out God had given me that talent to be something very special, all I had to do was put a little bit of my spices in there, and it wasn’t very much.”

The award’s selection committee will be made up of journalists, broadcasters, commentators and former winners. In addition, five perent of the vote will consist of fan balloting.

According to SPORTyler, the award will go to the player who exhibits characteristics similar to those of Campbell: integrity, drive, determination, achievement in the face of adversity and tenacity to persist.

The award watch list, selected by the board from sports information director nominations submitted by all FBS college and university schools, will be announced the annual East Texas Kick-Off Luncheon every August.

The committee will narrow the field to 16 semifinalists in October and four finalists in November before being awarded in December.

Campbell, 57, led John Tyler to the 1973 Class 4A state championship. Former Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer once said Campbell was the only high school player he saw that could have made the jump from high school to the NFL.

“The Tyler Rose” decided to go anyway, enrolling at Texas. In 1977, Campbell led the nation in rushing with more than 1,700 yards, becoming the first Longhorns player to win the Heisman Trophy.

“He’s a real gem for this community and you know it, and he was a real gem for the University of Texas and believe me we know it,” said former Texas coach David Akers, who was a special guest speaker.

Not surprisingly, the Houston Oilers made Campbell the No. 1 overall pick in the 1978 NFL draft. He went on to have one of the best rookie seasons in league history. Campbell was named both the Offensive Rookie of the Year and Offensive Player of the Year.

Campbell became just the second player in NFL history to lead the league in rushing for three consecutive seasons, joining fellow Hall of Famer Jim Brown.

After more than nine years in the league, Campbell retired after the 1985 season and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1991.

The luncheon’s other guest speaker at Wednesday’s luncheon was former John Tyler High School, Baylor and NFL defensive back Gary Baxter.

There were 41 area schools represented at the luncheon. One high school athlete from each school was awarded a $250 scholarship.

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