2007 Longhorn Men's Hall of Honor inductees recognized at banquet
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AUSTIN, Texas -- Seven new members of UT Men's Longhorn Hall of Honor were recognized at a banquet Friday night at The Four Seasons. The group will be enshrined into the Longhorn Hall of Honor at ceremonies during the Texas-Texas Tech game on Saturday. The class honored on Friday evening included baseball's Jim Ehrler (1949-51) and Calvin Murray (1990-92), basketball's Lance Blanks (1989-90), football's Priest Holmes (1992-96), Randy McEachern (1977-78) and Charlie Talbert (1961-63) and track and field's Hollis Gainey (1957-59).
Blanks, Holmes, McEachern and Murray were selected by a panel of 50 Longhorn lettermen from a current-era athlete ballot that included 16 representatives from all men's sports. Ehrler, Gainey and Talbert were chosen by the Hall of Honor Vintage Committee, which surveys those athletes who completed their careers at least 40 years ago.
The four new current era inductees were the top vote getters in a ballot that included former baseball players Ron Gardenhire and John Langerhans; basketball player Terrence Rencher; football players Raul Allegre, Mike Baab, Alfred Jackson and Herkie Walls; golfers Brandel Chamblee and Brad Elder; swimmer Chris Jacobs; tennis player Steve Bryan; and track runner Robert Primeaux.
Blanks transferred to Texas after playing two years at Virginia and became part of the famed "BMW" Longhorn backcourt that included Blanks, Travis Mays and Joey Wright. In his two seasons at Texas, he helped the Longhorns post a 49-18 mark. Blanks left Texas as the eighth-leading scorer in school history with 1,322 points, the highest total by a two-year player in school history. He concluded his career as the all-time leader in steals (198), and his career scoring average (20.0 ppg) still ranks fourth in school history. During his junior season, Blanks ranked second on the team in scoring (19.7 ppg) while leading Texas to a 25-9 record and the NCAA Tournament Second Round. He was tabbed the SWC's Newcomer of the Year and set school single-season marks for minutes played (1,295) and steals (111). As a senior, Blanks ranked second on the squad in scoring (20.3 ppg) while pacing Texas to a 24-9 mark and a trip to the "Elite Eight." Blanks earned a spot on the five-man NCAA All-Midwest Regional team and the USBWA All-District 7 squad. After earning his bachelor's degree in radio/television/film, Blanks was selected by the Detroit Pistons as the 26th overall pick in the first round of the 1990 NBA Draft. He played two seasons with the Pistons (1991-92) and one year with the Minnesota Timberwolves (1993). Blanks served as the head scout and later Director of Scouting for the San Antonio Spurs for five seasons and is now an assistant general manager with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
"It is hard to explain," Blanks said. "Pardon the pun, but I feel honored to come back and be recognized for my efforts while I was there. It means a lot that my time at UT mattered to someone outside of myself."
Ehrler played on Texas' 1949 and 1950 National Championship squads. In 1950, he pitched the first-ever no-hitter in the College World Series and it stands as one of two no-hitters ever pitched in the tournament. Ehrler carved his gem against Tufts on June 19, 1950, fanning 14 Jumbos in a 7-0 win. He is also the only pitcher in the history of the College World Series to post wins in two separate championship games as he was on the mound for UT's 10-3 win over Wake Forest in 1949 and its 3-0 win over Washington State in 1950.
"I'm excited to see my picture up on the wall and just getting that honor," Ehrler said. "It has been a long time, and I never thought I'd get it, so I'm really happy. It was a great surprise."
During Gainey's tenure on the Forty Acres, UT took home the Southwest Athletic Conference Championship from 1957-59. The two-time conference relay champion (1957 and '59 in the 440-yard relay) finished sixth in the 100- and 200-yard dashes at the 1957 NCAA Championship in Austin. A stellar sprinter in his time, Gainey ran on two world-record-setting Texas relays (440-yard and 880-yard) and led the Longhorns to a gold medal finish in the 440 relay at the 1957 Penn Relays. He also ran on the first team to run the same relay under 40 seconds (39.9 seconds at the 1957 Kansas Relays). After graduating from Texas with a degree in science, health and physical education, the Colorado City, Texas native went on to serve in the military and later worked in education where as he served as a teacher, football and track & field coach and athletics director.
"I was completely surprised and caught off guard when I was notified about it," Gainey said. "I had no idea what the call was about, it just caught me by surprise. I was just in awe of it, actually. It's a great, great feeling."
Holmes, an All-Pro running back with the Kansas City Chiefs, rushed for?1,276 yards and 20 TDs during his four years as a Longhorn. His career was highlighted by a 120-yard, three-TD performance in helping Texas upset No. 3 Nebraska, 37-27, in the inaugural Big 12 Championship in 1996. Holmes also was named Most Valuable Player of the 1994 Sun Bowl, which saw Texas defeat No. 19 North Carolina, 35-31, after rushing for 161 yards and four TDs. Holmes won a Super Bowl as a member of the Baltimore Ravens in 2000. In his 10th season in the NFL, Holmes has posted four 1,000-yard seasons. He went to the Pro Bowl from 2001-03, a stretch in which he averaged 1,530 rushing yards and 659 receiving yards a season. In 2001, Holmes rushed for 1,555 yards and caught 62 passes for 614 yards. He rushed for a career-high 1,615 yards and 21 TDs and caught 70 passes for 672 yards in 2002. In 2003, he briefly held the NFL record for most TD rushes in a season with 28. That season he logged 1,420 yards on the ground and 690 receiving yards on a career-high 74 catches. Holmes, who recently returned to action after missing half the 2005 season and the entire 2006 campaign due to injury, has rushed for over 8,044 yards during his NFL career.
"It is an amazing privilege to be inducted into The University of Texas Hall of Honor," said Holmes who was unable to attend do to NFL obligations this weekend. "Having my name associated with so many other accomplished Longhorn athletes and administrators is very humbling. Growing up in San Antonio, I was heavily influenced by the legendary UT tradition. Therefore, this accolade is a fulfillment of a childhood aspiration."
McEachern started 17 games, winning 13, at quarterback for the Longhorns over two seasons. He completed 85-of-185 attempts for 1,564 yards and 15 TDs, while rushing for 348 yards and five TDs during his career. He became a Texas folk hero when he came off the bench as the third string quarterback to lead the 1977 Longhorns to a victory over No. 2 Oklahoma, 13-6, and on to a No. 1 ranking at the end of the regular season. McEachern also matched a 62-year old record when he threw four TD passes to defeat No. 12 Texas A&M, 57-28, during the '77 season. He led Texas in both passing and total offense in 1977 and '78. He threw for 906 yards and eight TDs and rushed for 189 yards in 1977 and passed for 658 yards and seven TDs and gained 159 on the ground in 1978. After finishing his playing career and graduating with a degree in finance from The University, he started an investment company where he still serves as a manager.
"I like to give credit to the other players. I had a great supporting cast, and I was just one of 22 players out on the field," McEachern said. "Any one of those guys could be inducted into the Hall of Honor, so I am so thankful for this honor."
Murray, a first-round draft choice of the Cleveland Indians out of high school in 1989, opted to play at Texas where he became one of the Longhorns' brightest stars. He was a first-team All-American in 1992 and earned Most Outstanding Player honors at the NCAA Regional that year as he helped lead Texas to the College World Series. He finished his Texas career with a .311 batting average, 197 runs, 14 triples and a school record 139 stolen bases. Murray, the Southwest Conference and Texas all-time leader in stolen bases, was responsible for three of the Horns' six 40-steal seasons. Murray was selected as a member of the U.S. National Team and played in the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games. Following the 1992 season, the San Francisco Giants selected Murray with the seventh pick of the first round in the draft. He played 13 years of professional ball, including five seasons in the Major Leagues with the Giants, Texas Rangers and Chicago Cubs.
"When I first walked into Bellmont as a freshman and saw those pictures on the wall, it was pretty cool even though I didn't know exactly what it meant at the time," Murray said. "I knew enough to realize that those men had done something pretty special at this University, and I always had it in the back of my mind that I wanted to be up there someday. For that to actually happen is pretty awesome."
Talbert was a two-way starter at end and receiver during his three years as a Longhorn. He posted 25 receptions for 335 yards and a TD during his career and was the leading receiver on Texas' first National Championship team in 1963. After finishing his career and graduating with a business degree, Talbert enrolled in The University of Texas Law School and earned his second degree. Upon graduation, Talbert attended the naval officer's academy and joined the Navy for three years. After parting ways with the Navy, Talbert moved to Houston and got involved in real estate. He has been occupied with the development of hotels in Houston and Austin since 1980. He is the third member of the Talbert family, joining brothers Don and Diron, to be inducted.
"I was not an All-American performer and I was basically a team person," Talbert said, "so I am extremely flattered and humbled by being selected."