Sendlein and Studdard: Longhorns’ legacy linemen
In 1977, a Sendlein and a Studdard could be found on the roster of a Texas Longhorns’ outfit that was within a game of a National Championship.
For Robin Sendlein and Dave Studdard, however, it was not to be as Notre Dame upset the top-ranked and unbeaten Longhorns in the 1978 Cotton Bowl.
Fast forward to 2005, where a Sendlein and a Studdard were on the roster again.
This time, there was a happy ending as Lyle Sendlein and Kasey Studdard had the opportunity to enjoy what their fathers had missed when the Longhorns defeated USC in the 2006 Rose Bowl to claim the national title.
In the bios of Lyle Sendlein and Kasey Studdard that appear in The University of Texas football media guide, they both make mention of their fathers. Lyle calls his dad the biggest influence on his football career, while Kasey lists his dad and John Elway as his sports heroes as a child.
The influence Lyle mentioned was apparent last December when his dad, who was a linebacker for the Horns from 1977-80 and then had an eight-year NFL career with Minnesota, Miami and Houston, engaged in a father-son talk.
When Lyle was home for the holidays prior to the Longhorns traveling to Pasadena, Calif., to begin preparations for the national title game with USC, he said his father took a few minutes to sit down with him.
“Dad talked to me about the 1978 Cotton Bowl game,” Lyle said, following practice as he and his teammates begin work for the 2006 season. Robin was a freshman on the 1977 UT club.
“Dad told me not to make the game more than it was,” Lyle began. “He told me to make it just what it was -- a football game. He wanted to make sure that I didn’t get caught up in everything around the game. He said to remember in the end, it was just a football game.”
Dad’s words were not lost on Lyle.
“I appreciated him doing that,” he said.
Of course, Lyle and Kasey and the remainder of their teammates kept perspective in the Rose Bowl game and were able to secure a National Championship.
As two senior leaders on the offensive line – Sendlein at center and Studdard at guard – they are the “dads” to the younger members of the 2006 Texas Football team.
“The mindset is that this is the first time for this team to play together,” said Studdard, the 6-foot-3, 305-pound guard who earned second-team All-Big 12 honors last year as a part of an offensive front that helped Texas finish first in the nation in scoring offense at 50.2 points per game.
“We can’t come in tooting our own horn or we’ll wind up going 8-3,” Studdard continued. “We’ll only be successful if we work as hard as we did last year.
“And as a senior, it is my job to watch the young kids. We don’t need them to come in here thinking they are all-world when they have done nothing for this team yet.”
Sendlein, a 6-foot-5, 305-pound center who earned All-Big 12 honors a year ago as the anchor of an offensive line that surrendered only 14 sacks and opened enough holes to allow Texas to rank No. 2 in rushing offense, concurs with Studdard on their roles with this team.
“We’ve got young quarterbacks and we have to keep them clean,” said Sendlein, who like Studdard is a fifth-year senior. “We certainly have a big target on our back this year. But, we’ll have the same attitude as last year – to work hard in order to do what we have to do to win.”
Both young men admit that it is hard for them to believe their Texas careers are nearing the end.
“I can’t really imagine it,” Sendlein said. “It is just further motivation for me to make sure that I leave everything on the field each game.”
Studdard, who said that at the close of last year’s Rose Bowl he thought to himself, ‘Holy cow, we’re winning the National Championship,’ claims it feels as though he just checked in as a freshman a short time ago.
“I can’t say enough about my UT experience,” Studdard began. “That this is my last rodeo means I will not leave the field without knowing I have given everything I have in each and every game.”
Which always has been true for both Studdard and Sendlein.