College Football Hall of Fame honor a 'Rosie' tribute for Leaks
When the telephone rang, Roosevelt Leaks answered and immediately recognized the voice on the other end.
"It was Coach (Darrell) Royal," said Leaks of the Longhorns legend who was Leaks' coach during the fullback's matriculation at UT from 1972-74.
"He said, 'You're in,'"Leaks recalled. "And I asked him, 'In what?'"
Leaks laughed as he re-told the tale.
On the other end of the phone, Royal seemed stymied for a moment and said, "In the College Football Hall of Fame."
Leaks said he was surprised.
"I certainly do appreciate it," he continued. "And getting the call from Coach Royal made it even more special. But, honestly, it (being in the College Football Hall of Fame) never crossed my mind one way or another."
The 52-year-old Leaks, who works as a real estate appraiser in the state's General Land Office, is one of 11 in this year's College Football Hall of Fame class that was introduced at New York's Waldorf-Astroria Hotel in early December. The actual induction ceremony will be in August in South Bend, Ind.
"It's a nice honor," said Leaks, who came to UT from Brenham, Texas. "It's great to be a part of something like this. Seeing some of the people I am going in with also makes it great."
Among his "classmates" are USC's Anthony Davis, Notre Dame's John Huarte and Oklahoma's Joe Washington.
Leaks, who becomes the 13th Longhorn to be inducted (the first since Jerry Sisemore [1970-72] in 2002), ranks fifth all-time among UT rushers with 2,923 yards and that was with a senior season when he suffered a knee injury. His junior year was his best as he ran for 1,415 yards and was the Southwest Conference's Most Valuable Player. He finished third in the Heisman balloting that year.
Despite that injury, Leaks went on to perform for the then-Baltimore Colts and Buffalo Bills during his nine NFL seasons.
"I always felt as though I was a good athlete," Leaks said. "But when you think of how many kids play football in grade school, then high school, then college and then make it in the NFL -- well, it's like being one percent of the one percent of the one percent of the one percent….
"Then, to be selected for the Hall of Fame -- it tells me it was a great gift to have the career that I had and I am thankful."
Ironically, Leaks didn't figure he would have this career, or any career for that matter, at The University of Texas.
His first choice for college: Houston.
"Yes, Texas was my second choice," said Leaks, who was most gracious about what had to be one of then-UH coach Bill Yeoman's biggest -- if not the biggest -- recruiting gaffes in his brilliant career.
"I doubt if he (Yeoman) lost much sleep," Leaks said with a laugh. "They (UH) signed a running back from Florida."
After a quick look out of state, Leaks opted for The University of Texas.
His presence on the 40 Acres at that time made him a pioneer, since he was one of the first African-American student-athletes at Texas.
"Pioneer at the time I was at Texas? Maybe looking back today, but I would say that I didn't really think of myself in that way," Leaks began. "I played with black and white kids as long as I played organized ball. That was not an issue. If you could play, you could play.
"As far as my time at Texas, things have a way of working out. I got a great opportunity for a great education. We (he and The University) both benefited. We both won.
"After all, anything worthwhile is hard."