Looking Back: 1998 Texas Class

When Coach Mack Brown took the Texas job on December 4, 1997, he had two immediate agenda items: talk Ricky Williams into returning to Texas and assemble a quality recruiting class in less than two months. Brown accomplished both quickly. Burnt Orange Beat chronicles the 1998 recruiting class.

The 1998 recruiting class will always be remembered as something special. Perhaps it was as much for the character that they brought to Texas as much as their ability on the field. The 18 players were all from Texas and they view the class as the foundation onto which the Mack Brown years of success have been built.

As a senior, defensive back Ahmad Brooks told reporters, "As a class, we wanted to restart Texas football tradition. But we wanted to be good people, graduate and do well on the field -- in that order -- and I think we've done that."

Today, safety Jon Wyndham describes it similarly. "We were a class of fighters. We were the foundation," the defensive back from Manor said.

After eleven seasons of at last nine wins, a national championship in 2005, and now a fixture in the Top Ten, it is difficult for many to remember just how far Texas had fallen when Brown took over.

After the 2001 season (the senior season for most of the class), Texas had posted four straight Top-25 finishes – a feat not done since an eight-season stretch under legendary Texas Coach Darrell Royal from 1968-1975. In fact, the 2001 season marked the first Top-10 finish for the program since 1983.

The class certainly did restart the tradition of winning at Texas. Since the entire class left campus after the 2002 season, Texas has won at least ten games every year and its "worst" finish was 13th in the AP poll in 2006.

"I am proud to say that we started the winning tradition," said Miguel McKay, a seldom used defensive tackle who contributed some meaningful minutes as a senior for the team. McKay now works for the Texas athletic department after graduating in 2003.

"The reason I came to Texas was Mack Brown. All he talked about was winning," added McKay.

Wyndham agrees, "Where we are now is what Mack sold us on back then."

CLOSE KNIT GROUP

Another common trait among the group is how close the group remains today. Longview safety Lee Jackson still considers players in his class among his closest friends. Jackson, who is on hiatus from an acting career after the birth of his daughter in August, says the class "has always been close." Jackson starred in the movie Friday Night Lights.

The group tries to get together as much as possible. Brooks and Wyndham even started the T-Ring Tailgate for guys to get together for the Texas home games.

Defender Ervis Hill, who was part of the Texas City Four with Jermaine Anderson, Everick Rawls, and Tyrone Jones, is now working in the chemical industry in Houston and still remembers the group as close knit.

"There is no breaking us up," Hill says proudly. Ironically, Hill said that the four players never really intended to end up at the same school but they all loved Texas after the official visit.

PROFESSIONAL STARDOM

The 1998 class did produce one NFL draft pick in The Colony's Mike Williams, who was selected 4th overall in the 2002 draft by the Buffalo Bills. After a disappointing playing career with the Bills and being out of football for two seasons, Williams has just recently signed with the Washington Redskins in the hopes of returning to the league.

However, the player with the longest NFL tenure from the class goes to Westwood's Marcus Wilkins. Wilkins played in 119 games at the Forty Acres and in the NFL, but never started a game.

New Caney's Adam Dunn, who left the Texas football to pursue a Major League Baseball career, was drafted in the second round of the 1998 draft by the Cincinnati Reds and was in the big leagues three summers later. Dunn is currently in his ninth major league season and now plays for the Washington Nationals.

Here is the entire 18-man recruiting class of 1998:

Jermaine Anderson, DE Texas City
Beau Baker, OL Clear Lake
Ahmad Brooks, DB Abilene
Adam Dunn, QB New Caney
Montrell Flowers, WR Dallas Skyline
Ervis Hill, DB Texas City
Victor Ike, RB Austin Bowie
Lee Jackson, DB Longview
Tyrone Jones, LB Texas City
Jamal Joyner, DB Dallas Carter
Antwan Kirk-Hughes OT Waxahachie
Miguel McKay, LB Lufkin
Everick Rawls, LB Texas City
Chris Robertson, RB Denison
Beau Trahan, QB Bay City
Marcus Wilkins, LB Round Rock Westwood
Mike Williams, OT The Colony
Jon Wyndham, DB Manor


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