Todd Smith- 1987-1990
Todd Smith walked on at Texas as a Defensive end but started at offensive center. He had some offers to other schools but he wanted to be a Longhorns.
Reggie Grob was my cousin.
Todd Smith belongs to an exclusive club of Longhorn football players. He was a walk-on who started for Texas. A contemporary of Todd's , Jerry Seade, summed up the description of a walk-on as "the low men on the totem pole... The term suggested that a player was of less value than the others...." As Todd Smith says "all walk-ons are used as "cannon fodder". Jerry says to make the team a walk-on has to try harder and play twice as good to catch the eye of a coach. Stan Mauldin was a walk-on in 1967 and a captain of the 1971 team, and he says "I was 8th string and issued a blue jersey assigned to the so-called “attack squad,” comprised of surplus humans, used as blocking dummies and tackling targets – raw meat for the starters to sharpen their fangs. Better to be the back end of a shooting gallery than to be on the attack squad.
Abe Lemons said of recruiting a "mistake " “Doctors Bury Their Mistakes, But Mine Are Still On Scholarship ". Walk-ons become starters by exploiting these scholarship "mistakes" and start their climb toward daylight by showing the coaches they will hit anything that moves at practice.
Todd Smith was this type of person. A young man who worked hard, long, and smart to fulfill his dream of starting for the Longhorns.
From the 1989 Cactus- miller Seafous, Saleh, and Champagne, Thomas (STILL LOOKING FOR PHOTOS)
TONY DEGRATE By Greg Shepard - Images added to article by Billy Dale
Lombardi Trophy Winner: Tony DeGrate
DeGrate goes all out every play!
Tony DeGrate is one of the most outstanding people in football today. He has outstanding credentials. Tony was the 1984 Lombardi Trophy Winner. The Lombardi Trophy is awarded to the best defensive lineman in college football. He is an All-American in every respect! Tony DeGrate has kept his life in proper perspective. Dana LeDuc the strength coach at the University of Texas has the highest praise for Tony. "He is a good hard worker, who has developed his talents," states Coach LeDuc. "Tony is gifted but he's worked awfully hard also. As for leadership qualities, I can tell you that he commands a lot of respect in his own quiet way," LeDuc continued. "Tony DeGrate is the thickest athlete I've ever seen. He has phenomenal layers of thickness and could have squatted 800
pounds but we don't push it and normally keep it around 650 pounds." Such high praise coming from Dana LeDuc is impressive. Coach LeDuc, in his prime at the University of Texas, was a world class shotputter. During his competition he had opportunities to see the world's best weight men in track and of course Coach LeDuc has seen many great athletes during his 8 year tenure at the University of Texas. Therefore, when Dana LeDuc says Tony DeGrate is the thickest athlete he's seen: I listen! Tony DeGrate must be something special. Coach LeDuc also states that Tony DeGrate is one of the most outstanding men he's been around. He takes his weight training seriously. He takes his education seriously and takes the spiritual side of life seriously. Tony DeGrate reciprocates that feeling towards Coach LeDuc as Tony made sure his strength coach was one of the two men with him at the Lombardi Trophy Awards Banquet. Mike Parker, Tony's defensive line coach, was the other man invited to be with him. Coach Parker shouts his praises "Tony DeGrate is the most physical player ever at Texas." Now, when you consider all the great players that have come through the University of Texas that's really saying something. Tony relates this about his high school career. "I wasn't a big name in high school. I was benched several times and a lot of people said I wouldn't make it. Even after I was headed for the University of Texas, people said I'd be back soon pumping gas. However, I always set my goals high and always keep striving. I tried to let negative things people said turn into something positive. When somebody says I can't do something, that makes me all the more determined to succeed. I've got two rules: never settle for second best and never become complacent. I'm very hard on myself. A lot of my attitude has been developed through inspiration and example from Coach LeDuc and Coach Parker. You can see from Tony's Progression Chart that the only thing he really worked on in high school was the bench press. He barely got more than his body weighl. He 82
went to Snyder High School, a 4-A school in Snyder, Texas. In December of 1984, Coach Greg Shepard did a Bigger Faster Stronger clinic at Snyder. Football Coach Dennis Tomlin, a new coach, remarked 'Til guarantee you, we don't have anyone like Tony DeGrate now.
We need to have a strength program. From now on, we will have to develop greatness." It was really evident that a strength program was desperately needed in Snyder. They decided to set a team goal of breaking 16,000 personal records before next football season after their BFS clinic. The BFS set-rep system was instituted and at this writing the team has averaged 1000 broken records a week. Progress is monitored by a United Fund Thermometer. As it's turning out, their goal should have been 25,000 records.
Tony DeGrate states that weight training has definitely enhanced his ability. "When I got here I wasn't that strong" recalls DeGrate. Coach LeDuc remembers "When Tony first got here he was not projected to be a great player. Without his willingness to work hard in the weight room, Tony DeGrate would not be near the player he is today. "Tony was only an Honorable Mention All-State player in high school." Tony responds by stating, "I had a dismal senior season. In fact, I was more known in baseball. As a pitcher [was clocked at 96 MPH." Editor's Note: Can you imagine a 6-3,255 lb. pitcher throwing a baseball 96 MPH; I think I'd get out of the way! Tony is a Commercial Art Major and maintains a 2.6 G.P.A. Tony will graduate and feels very strongly about his painting. He has had offers to go to Europe to continue his art career. Tony loves to work with oil, pastel and color prisma. However, Tony plans on exploring a pro football career and paint in the off-season. Then after football, he can pursue a full time art career. I asked Tony about one set of 8-12 reps and what if your pro strength coach had you do it. Tony responded diplomatically, "I've got a philosophy that the team comes before me so I would do it. I would follow orders. I'd try to talk to the coach in private so maybe we could compromise and say maybe we could do it this way. What about Nautilus, Tony? "For me, at my defensive tackle position, I can't rate it very high. I don't pay much attention to that system," responded DeGrate. "With my program I feel very confident about my strength. I feel I can handle anyone one on one. I don't think I'll ever feel that I have enough strength. I've got to keep pushing forward," DeGrate concluded. Tony DeGrate does keep things in proper perspective. "I've never done drugs. I don't misuse my body and I never will. I'm really choosy about my friends. I'd rather be called a square than be on drugs. I think a lot of kids are misled and look at the short term. I don't use steroids. I believe hard work is a lot better way to go and I'd never recommend steroids. I reaUy don't know about uppers or speed. I guess some players take them but as for me I believe a real competitor doesn't need a pill to get Up." And then, Tony DeGrate became even more serious. ''I'd like to talk about the importance of God in my life. The most important things in my life are: My God, my family, my education and my career. In that order. I know alot of young athletes will read this article and so I'd urge them to get a proper perspective of life. Get to know your spiritual self and develop a personal relationship with God." We wish to thank Tony DeGrate for being the special individual that he is and the inspiration he has been and thank Coach Dana LeDuc for his leadership in all that he does at the University of Texas. If any athletes would like to attend a summer strength camp at the University of Texas, contact Coach LeDuc. He's been holding a camp for 8 years. Good Luck!
Bryan Millard - 1980
When Bryan was in the sixth grade, the family moved to Dumas, a farming and ranching community 45 miles north of Amarillo, in the heart of the Texas panhandle. The town was mad for football. More than 3,000 fans would pack the local stadium on Friday nights to watch Dumas High play. Swept up by that spirit, Bryan joined the Hillcrest Hawks elementary school team, and by high school, he had made himself into an all-district offensive tackle and an all-state defensive lineman. He had even more success in track and field: Millard won the state class AAA shot put championship as a senior with a throw of 61'7".
Every Division I football school in the state recruited Millard. He chose Texas because he had so much fun on his recruiting visit. "John Mize, an assistant coach, brought a twin-engine plane to pick me up," says Millard. "That was a big deal. Why, the Dumas Airport only has a wind sock. Because of fog, we got to Austin late. When we finally arrived at the stadium, Steve Massey, a defensive tackle who was my escort for the weekend, screamed, 'Mize, where the hell have you been? My liver's on fire. I need a beer.' I thought, This guy is a player?
"After a few beers, we went to a Jerry Jeff Walker concert. I ate more chili peppers than I'd ever seen in my life. After that, we went to a game preserve and shot a pronghorn antelope. We took it over to the football dorm and hung it in the shower. It was the wildest night ever."
Millard became a starter in his junior season, and the next year he made first-team All-Southwest Conference. In January 1983, the New Jersey Generals of the then brand-new USFL made Millard their 12th-round pick in the draft. "Chuck Fairbanks, the Generals' coach, called," says Millard. "I asked, 'Where's New Jersey?' He said, 'It's next to New York.' I said, 'Do they have country music up there?'
Posted: 7:24 p.m. Thursday, July 17, 2014
Jeff Leiding’s debut as a Texas football player was symbolic of the hard-charging life he lived.
On the first play of the 1980 season opener against sixth-ranked Arkansas, Leiding — a strapping 6-3, 230-pound freshman linebacker — leaped two blockers aiming for his legs and speared the kickoff returner in mid-air, jump-starting a 23-17 win for 10th-ranked Texas.
Leiding separated his shoulder on the play.
“It’s one of those (plays) you hope as a player you get a chance to get, but you’re not always willing to pay the price,” recalled former Texas coach David McWilliams, who was Leiding’s linebackers coach at the time. “It did knock him a little cuckoo.”
Leiding, a 1983 All-American who was beloved by Longhorns fans for his knee-buckling hits and colorful personality, died Sunday in St. Louis from a heart attack. He was 52.
His raucous college introduction convinced McWilliams that Leiding should wear No. 60, an honor for Texas linebackers bestowed first on Johnny Treadwell and made famous later by Tommy Nobis. Leiding wore the number beginning his sophomore season when he made 107 tackles and 8.5 sacks. That team went 10-1-1 in 1981 and finished second in the Associated Press poll. The Longhorns followed with nine wins in 1982 and captured the 1983 Southwest Conference title with an 11-1 overall mark his senior season.
“One hell of a college linebacker … 60 fit him well,” said offensive lineman Bryan Millard, Leiding’s teammate.
The St. Louis Cardinals selected Leiding in the fifth round of the 1984 NFL draft, which yielded a record 17 Longhorns. He played his final snap four years later, succumbing to injuries as a member of the Indianapolis Colts.
“Great teammate, great player, everyone liked him and respected him,” said Kiki DeAyala, a linebacker who played with Leiding for three seasons at Texas.
Leiding was a rare recruit, an Oklahoma product who eschewed Oklahoma for rival Texas. Asked why, Leiding, who had moved to Tulsa from Kansas City before his senior year of high school, said simply that he liked Texas more. OU fans never forgave him. As recently as a few years ago, a sports talk radio station in Oklahoma City named Leiding the second-most hated athlete in the state, said his sister, Susan Nixon.
“He was proud to play for the University of Texas,” Nixon said. “He left his mark on this world. He was well thought of by a lot of people.”
Leiding ruffled feathers in 1986, revealing that he had received cash payments from alumni and boosters throughout college. He also charged that Fred Akers, Texas’ head coach, knew about players selling their complimentary game tickets for up to $600. Akers denied the charge.
Texas was sentenced to two years’ probation — which later was reduced to one — and lost scholarships and recruiting visits.
Leiding, who was working in roofing until his death, is survived by his fiance, Christy Smith, and his adult children, Kelcy and Jeffrey, as well as four granddaughters. He will be buried Saturday in St. Louis.
John Hagy 1983
When it comes to bricks and football, there is likely no greater authority than John Hagy. As one of the leading home builders in Austin, as well as a former Longhorn and NFL star who played in a Super Bowl, he knows a lot about both.
So given the Longhorns' 2011 reconstruction philosophy of "brick by brick," I asked John what you do when something goes wrong after you have played pretty well for four games and start feeling pretty good about yourselves after four successful layers of bricks have been put in place.
"That's exactly how the home building business goes too," he said with a chuckle. "I always joke around and say, `things feel a little too good right now.' Every time I start to think things are going well, and everything's scheduled on time, and things are hitting and firing correctly, you had better put your head on a swivel and see what you are missing, because it's coming."
And when it does, he says, you go back to brick four and build from there.
So, what's the philosophy when you hit a snag on brick No. 5?
"You take it back down. You gotta pull it apart and you gotta put it back together correctly. It takes time and effort, just like it does in football. You put in the extra work that's necessary. You take it back to brick No. 4, where it has all been done correctly. When five is a little out of level, then it's time to take five down and put things back up together. The scary thing is, you don't want to put five and then get to 25 and realize it has to come down because it doesn't line up right. You want to constantly keep checking so that if it gets to seven or eight and doesn't look right, then you have to fix that.
Ken Hackemack #68
In response to the video Ken in April of 2019 said “ there were a few factors that came into play. The biggest was the embarrassment of being one of those athletes that used up their eligibility with no degree to fall back on. The other was that I was the only person in two generations without a degree. After football, I took the vocational route and got my associates yet after so many years, I still felt empty, that I was missing something. It wasn’t till my daughter was graduating from Mississippi State with honors that I finally told myself I need to finish college and get my degree. I’m whole now and in a good place. It was that inner drive fueled by embarrassment that made it happen”.
Oscar Giles 1987
Giles had just finished his professional career in the Canadian Football League when, at age 30, he decided it was finally time to "go out and get a real job." He immediately gravitated toward a coaching career, remembering how his former coaches influenced his life.
"I needed to give back," said Giles, in his second stint as defensive line coach at the University of Houston. "They gave me that role model. Because of them, I was able to learn how to grow up and be a man."
Only one problem for Giles: He had no coaching experience.
His former college coach at Texas, David McWilliams, recommended he write down every coach he knew, then told him to call them.
From Todd Dodge On Recruiting
“I tell players all the time, … back in 1980, 81 when I was getting recruited, literally, the recruiting process started around January 1 and it lasted about one month,” Dodge said. “There were no games that you went to, there were no camps, there were no junior days. You found out, basically, your coach told you when the season was over with, ‘Oh, by the way, these guys like you.’ He probably already set up your visits for you and here’s your four, five visits. So it was only about a one month process.”
coach Dodge (Westlake)
“One of the things we try to tell our players is don’t let anybody take your joy away during the process. I was visiting with a great friend of mine who’s got a very high-profile son in our state, and I just told him, ‘Just remind him, don’t let anybody take your joy away the last two weeks of the process.'”