We continue our Top 10 series with a look at the most outstanding Texas freshman of all time.
“Diaper Dandies Baby!!” is the only appropriate way to describe this week’s Texas Top 10 list. With the one-and-done policy and red-shirting rules, freshmen can have a tremendous impact across all sports. We take an in-depth look at the 10 Texas freshmen and redshirt freshmen that made the biggest splash in their first season wearing burnt orange.
10) Slater Martin, Basketball, Seasons at UT: 1944, 1947-1949
Slater Martin was the first marquee Texas Longhorn basketball player to don the burnt orange uniform. After returning in 1947, he led the Longhorns to the Final Four that year. Martin became one of the best small guards in history, earning All-American honors in 1949 and All-SWC in 1948 and 1949. He is currently the only University of Texas basketball player to be elected into the NBA Hall-of-Fame.
9) Earl Campbell, Football, Seasons at UT: 1974-1977
I wouldn’t be able to forgive myself if I left Earl Campbell off a Top 10 list of Texas athletes. That being said, Campbell didn’t put up the best numbers during his freshman year, rushing for over 928 yards and six touchdowns. However, Campbell still provided a huge impact averaging 5.7 yards per carry. Campbell went on to have arguably the best careers of any Texas athlete, winning the Heisman in his senior season, rushing for 1744 yards.
8) Bobby Layne, Football, Seasons at UT: 1944-1947
According to many old school Texas fans, Bobby Layne is arguably the best quarterback to suit up for the Longhorns. During his freshman season, he made the All-Southwest Conference team, which he accomplished all four years of his time at Texas. In one of the craziest statistical achievements in Texas history, he accounted for every point in Texas’ win in the 1946 Sugar Bowl win over Missouri.
7) Jordan Spieth: Golf, Seasons at UT: 2012-present
I know what you’re thinking; a golfer in the Top 10, there must be something wrong with this writer. But Jordan Spieth is that good. He’s risen to number one in the individual collegiate rankings, supplanting fellow Longhorn Dylan Fritelli and has brought the Longhorns up to number one in the team rankings. He’s averaging an astonishing 69.25 a round in his first year of collegiate competition. Spieth has played in one PGA tournament, failing to make the cut at the Northern Trust Open.
6) Natalie King, Softball, Softball, Seasons at UT: 2001-2002
If not for Cat Osterman, Natalie King would probably own the title of best softball pitchers to play for UT. In her freshman year, King threw the first two freshman no-hitters in Texas history and held opponents to only a .218 average. She set a then-freshman record of 106 strikeouts. Unfortunately, King suffered a shoulder injury just seven appearances into her sophomore season. King transferred to Pacific after the season ended.
5) Ricky Williams, Football, Seasons at UT: 1995-1998
Although known for his Heisman winning senior season, Ricky Williams had a standout first season as a Longhorn. He rushed for over 1000 yards and eight touchdowns in his freshman year, leading the Longhorns to a 10-2-1 record with a birth in the Sugar Bowl. Despite the loss at the hands of Virginia Tech, Williams continued to have a great career at Texas, including the Heisman trophy win and setting the record for most yards in a season with 6,279 yards.
4) Sanya Richards, Track, Seasons at UT: 2003-2006
As a gold medal Olympian, Sanya Richards is one of the more recognizable UT alums and she too had a dominating freshman year. She won the 400-meter sprint at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships and won the same event at the National Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Richards went on to compete in the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, winning one bronze and one gold medal for the U.S. team. A little bonus fact for you business majors: she graduated with a degree in management information systems.
3) Colt McCoy, Football, Seasons at UT: 2005-2009
Even though Colt McCoy technically redshirted his freshman year, redshirt freshmen still qualify as freshen for my list. Attempting to fill the shoes of Vince Young, McCoy exploded onto the scene in his freshman season. During his first start, he led the Longhorns in a 56-7 romp over North Texas and continued his hot play for the entire season. Against Baylor, McCoy threw a record six touchdown passes and tied the record for most touchdowns thrown by a freshman with 29. Obviously, McCoy went on to have a very successful college career, leading the Longhorns to the National Championship game in 2009 and setting the record for the most wins by a starting quarterback throughout their college career with 45.
2)Cat Osterman, Softball, Seasons at UT: 2002-2003, 2006-2007
An argument could be made that Cat Osterman was the most dominating freshman that Texas has ever seen. During the first week of her first season, she threw two no-hitters, only the third and fourth freshman no-hitters in Texas history. She also recorded the first perfect game in Longhorn history. And then crazy enough, she threw two more during her freshman year. After her sophomore season, she left Texas to play for the United States in the Olympics, leading the red, white, and blue to a gold medal.
1) Kevin Durant, Basketball, Seasons at UT: 2007
Although his time at Texas was short, Kevin Durant made a tremendous impact on Longhorn fans. KD was a freshman-phenom in every sense of the word; averaging over 25 points and 11 rebounds a game, Durant rolled through the college game with an offensive array of skills unmatched by a player his size. Leading the Longhorns to the second round of the NCAA Tournament, he earned the John Wooden Award and became the first freshman to win the Associated Press Player of the Year Award and the Naismith Player of the Year Award. Durant left for the NBA after his freshman year and has thrived, leading the league in scoring for the 2011 season.