In eight days, a group of young men will make their 2015 season debut, hoping to make history - as individuals and as a team. With a couple of superstars on the roster, and even a few who have the chance to be the best in the nation at their position this season, we look back at eight TCU Football alum that were good enough to be Hall of Famers.
*induction year in paranthesis
Sammy Baugh, Quarterback (1951) - Slingin' Sammy Baugh was a two time All-American football player under legendary coach Dutch Meyer, who also starred on the baseball diamond, which is where he was gifted his nickname. With over 3,000 yards passing and 39 touchdown passes in his three varsity seasons, Baugh revolutionized the collegiate game with the forward pass. Amazing to think that those career numbers were insane at the time, when now they are just a slightly above average season. Drafted by the Washington Redskins with the sixth overall pick at the end of his collegiate career, Baugh played QB, DB, and punted for the pro franchise. The owner of 13 standing records, Sammy led the 'Skins to two championship games, but was never able to quite get his team over the hump. Considered one of the all time greats in football history, you cannot write the story of football without including Slingin' Sammy.
Davey O'Brien, Quarterback (1955) - The namesake for one of the most prestigious passing trophies in the country, TCU's former QB won the Heisman, Maxwell, and Walter Camp awards, all in 1938. After succeeding Baugh behind center in 1937, O'Brien led the Frog to an undefeated season and the National Championship following the '38 season. With the single season record for passing and rushing attempts still belonging to the all-time great, Davey left the Frogs for the Philadelphia Eagles, and subsequently broke his former teammate's record for passing yards in a season by a rookie. But after only two years in pro ball, he retired to join the FBI, where he served for a decade. O'Brien left the world too soon due to a cancer fight, but leaves an incredible legacy on and off the field.
Ki Aldrich, Center (1960) - The man who put the ball in the hands of TCU's two outstanding Hall of Fame QBs was center Ki Aldrich, who himself was an All-American for the Frogs. A fun fact about Aldrich is that he was the #1 overall draft pick in 1939 - over teammates O'Brien and I.B. Hale. A member of the SWC's all time team, Dutch Meyer said that his former player was the most football loving and toughest player he ever coached. Aldrich proved that by leaving pro football for a time period to go fight in World War II, as a member of the US Navy.
Rags Matthews, End (1971) - A Fort Worth native, Rags Matthews starred on both sides of the ball, playing on both the offensive and defensive lines. Another TCU All-American, Rags was a two time team MVP and part of the first group of SWC players to be included in the East-West Shrine Game in 1927. Matthews retired to Fort Worth at the conclusion of his collegiate career, where he stayed until his passing in 1999.
Jim Swink, Halfback (1980) - One of the greatest running backs in football history, Jim Swink led TCU to consecutive conference championships in 1955 and 1956. Known as the 'Rusk Rambler', the Texas native was a two time All-American as a junior and senior, leading the nation in scoring with 125 points in '55. In a game against the Texas Longhorns, Swink was unstoppable, rushing 15 times for 235 yards, in the greatest game of his career. Though a likely pro prospect, the Rambler elected not to enter the draft, choosing instead to go to medical school. While he did play one season in the American Football League's Dallas, Texans, his post TCU legacy is built around his medical career, as he served as an orthopedic surgeon in Fort Worth for several years and continue to practice medicine in Rusk until his death in 2014.
Bob Lilly, Tackle (1981) - A two time All-Conference selection and consensus All-American, Bob Lilly was the first ever pick by the Dallas Cowboys. An imposing presence at 6'5", Lilly would go on to win a Super Bowl with the Cowboys under Tom Landry, who moved him inside on the defensive line. Lilly had one of the greatest plays in Super Bowl history, setting a record with a 29 yard sack of the Dolphin's Bob Griese. Lilly would pursue professional photography in his post playing days, inspired by the Kodak camera he was given as reward for his selection to the College Football All-American team, which was sponsored by the photography company.
Darrell Lester, Center (1988) - A three sport athlete for the Frogs, Lester was a center for the football team, a center for the basketball team, and a pitcher for the baseball team - earning nine letters in his three years of varsity competition. A two time consensus All-American (the first in SWC history to be named as such), he was Slinin' Sammy's snapper and part of a team that went 12-1 and won the Sugar Bowl over LSU. After two years in pro ball with the Green Bay Packers, Darrell retired from pro football due to injury, only to serve in the Army during WWII. Lester would later work for General Mills and become one of the founders of the famed Bluebonnet Bowl.
LaDainian Tomlinson, Halfback (2012) - He held the record for single game rushing yards until this year, when it was broken twice - once by Melvin Gordon at Wisconsin and again by Samaje Perine of Oklahoma. He led the Frogs' renaissance; a part of Gary Patterson's first bowl win (over USC in the Sun Bowl), he would go on to become an All-American and lead the country in rushing yards as a senior, with over 2,000 of them to go along with 22 touchdowns. A Heisman finalist in 2000, LT took home the Doak Walker award and became a first round draft pick by the San Diego Chargers. A surefire first round Hall of Famer for the NFL, his number was retired by TCU in 2005 and he was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2014.