Is Texas DB University?

The Texas Longhorns have had eight defensive backs chosen the NFL draft since 2002, including four first round selections. In addition, Texas boasts two Jim Thorpe award winners in the last four seasons. Burnt Orange Beat asks the question, "Is Texas DB University?"

The Texas Longhorns have a very deep and storied tradition of great defensive backs, including several two-time consensus All-Americans in Jerry Gray (1983 and 84) and Johnnie Johnson (1978 and 79). In addition, the 1970s and 80s also boast 14-year NFL player Raymond Clayborn and Mossy Cade.

The 1990s did not have the overall defenses of the late 70s and early 80s, but the Longhorns still produced some great defensive backs including Stanley Richard, Lance Gunn, and Bryant Westbrook, among others.

But for today's "DB University" question, those guys are not going to be included. This list only goes back to the year 2000 – the last nine draft classes.

Since the 2000 NFL draft, Texas has produced eight defensive backs that were drafted including an amazing four first round selections (Jammer 01, Huff 06, Ross 07, Mi Griffin 07). Perhaps even more amazingly, Texas had back to back Thorpe Award winners (top DB in the country) in Michael Huff and Aaron Ross in 2005 and 2006, respectively. Quentin Jammer was also a finalist for the award in 2001. Oklahoma also has two winners during that span (Roy Williams 01 and Derrick Strait 03). No other school has had multiple winners in the last ten years.

Over the same time period, ten schools produced more defensive back draft selections that the Longhorns. Georgia, Miami, Virginia Tech, and Ohio State all produced twelve selections in nine drafts. As far as first rounders go, Georgia (Thomas Davis 05) and Virginia Tech (DeAngelo Hall 04) only had one each, while Ohio State had four – just like the Longhorns.

Amazingly, Miami had eight first round selections (of their twelve), including a run of at least one DB selected in the first round in every draft from 2004-2008. The 2002 draft also saw three Miami defensive backs selected in the first round. Ironically, Bennie Blades is the only Hurricane defensive back to ever win the Thorpe Award in 1987 and that was a split award with Rickey Dixon of Oklahoma.

Perhaps surprising to many people is that South Carolina has had eleven defensive backs taken in the last nine NFL drafts.

Florida, Nebraska, Notre Dame, North Carolina State, and Oklahoma each had nine defensive backs drafted – one ahead of the Longhorns. None of those teams had more than two first round selections.

The top ten producers of NFL defensive backs accounted for 104 of the 442 defensive backs drafted in the last nine drafts – or 23.5%.

Teams other than the Longhorns with eight DB draft selections since 2000 include Florida State, Penn State, and Tennessee. Florida State had two first round selections while Penn State had none and Tennessee had just one.

In the upcoming 2009 draft, most prognosticators have only 2008 Thorpe Award winner Malcolm Jenkins as the lone first day DB selection from one any of the top 14 producing schools.

While several schools can make a case for second place, including Texas, the Miami Hurricanes can safely say they truly are DB University for this decade.


Horns Digest Top Stories