Father's Day: Chips off the 'OL' block
Scott, Sendlein and Studdard. While most Longhorns fans may instantly recognize those names as key elements to the offensive line of the National Champion Longhorns, to fans of a different generation, they may hold additional meaning.
Playing alongside Hall of Fame names such Namath, Marino and Elway were those three names, only they belonged at the time to Ray, Robin and Dave, as in Ray Scott, Robin Sendlein and Dave Studdard, the fathers of Jonathan, Lyle and Kasey, respectively.
The bloodlines run deep and what all three father-son relationships have in common is a lack of pressure for the sons to follow in the fathers' footsteps. However, it seems they are on a track to do just that.
Robin Sendlein was a linebacker for the Minnesota Vikings (1981-85), Miami Dolphins (1986-87) and Houston Oilers (1988), and also played for the Longhorns from 1977-80. He recalled a time when the family was living in Florida. Following a knee injury in 1986, his rehab routine included a morning swim across the lake behind their home. At the time, Lyle was not even three years old.
"I was just about to the other side, which was substantial, and I could hear screaming and yelling," Robin described. "I got to the other shore and I looked back and it was my wife yelling, 'Lyle's following you!'
"He must have just followed me and decided he was going to go swimming too. I kind of swam out toward him, and instead of encouraging him to go back, I figured he was further than halfway, I'll just have him come. He got over there with me, and we both swam back."
Much like following his dad across the lake, Lyle was never told to play football. He picked up the sport on his own initiative. It was inherent in him. He does not have many memories of his father playing, but he was in a football atmosphere at a young age, grew up around film and memorabilia and was able to meet greats such as Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino and head coach Don Shula.
"I started playing football at about six, and (my dad) never pushed me, I just always wanted to play after growing up around it," Lyle said. "He never pushed it on me, it just grew on me."
Lyle and his brother Austin, who was a defensive end at UT, were talented in all sports, but once Lyle had a taste for football, his father was available with guidance, including coaching his Pop Warner football team. However, Robin is still quick to give full credit to Lyle for his achievements and the dues he has paid to reach them.
"Lyle is going to succeed no matter what he does," Robin said. "It's a coincidence that it's kind of in my footsteps, but he's making his own path, too, and I think he's going to be very successful."
Kasey also got to have the experience of his father coaching him, and just like Lyle, his coaching came from a former Longhorn. Dave Studdard was an offensive tackle at Texas from 1975-77, went on to play 10 seasons with the Denver Broncos from 1979-88 and was a member of two Super Bowl teams.
The Studdard basement is a monument of pictures, helmets, game balls and jerseys, many of which were obtained alongside John Elway, whom to this day, Kasey is still in awe of.
"All he ever heard was 'John Elway, John Elway, John Elway,' and he thought that John's name was not just, John, but John Elway," Dave recounted with a laugh. "John would say, 'Hey Kasey, how are you doing?' And Kasey would say, 'Good, John Elway. How are you doing?' So he called him John Elway until he grew up and realized he didn't need to do that."
Kasey was never forced into football, but the environment was there. Dave describes his playing days as a close-knit fraternity, something he believes Kasey sensed and one of the reasons he pursued the game. Once involved, Dave became one of his greatest influences, coaching him at Highlands Ranch High School in Colorado.
"As far as seeing what was going on in my life, I think he thought it was exciting and rewarding, and it was a lot of fun," Dave said. "He saw it did take a lot of work, and basically, after he got into high school and I started coaching and showing him how much time he really had to dedicate to that side of it, it was something he wanted to pursue. I think it's something that's in his blood."
"He was a big influence," Kasey said. "He only stayed there for the four years I was in high school. He wanted me to have the best. He took me under his wing and taught me everything I know.
"Every game I've ever played, he watches it and calls me. He lets me know what he thought and asks me what I did on this play or that play. He watches me in depth. He's my biggest influence and makes sure I get my stuff done. He's always there for me."
In the Scott household, it was a long period of time before Ray would even allow Jonathan to play the sport that led him to be a seventh-round selection of the New York Jets in 1967, a year after he led the nation in punting at Prairie View A&M. He also played as a talented defensive end in college.
"I played soccer, baseball, tee ball, basketball, everything," Jonathan recalled. "(My dad) definitely knew I liked sports, he just wanted to entertain me the best he could with every other sport that's not as risk-prone. He let me have a mind of my own. He knew I was going to like football, and I do, so he never had to force me."
Jonathan never got to see his father play, but much like Lyle and Kasey, he didn't have to look far for inspiration with his father associated with names such as Joe Namath. Once that inspiration came and Jonathan was of age, the support and guidance was there from Ray, just as it was from Robin and Dave.
Even before he played his first junior high game, Ray bought Jonathan shoes and headgear and gave him a glimpse of what it would take to succeed in the sport. Jonathan learned quickly why his father was afraid of a burnout had he started at too young of an age.
That summer, Ray trained and conditioned Jonathan with running, calisthenics and agility drills, while conveying his message of the merits of hard work through his motto, 'No pain, no gain.' A moment of decision came one afternoon when Ray could see Jonathan's fondness for the 'pain' diminishing and frustration setting in.
"He was dragging, and I told him, 'Hold up, stop,'" Ray recounted. "He stopped and looked back at me. I said, 'I want you to take off my stuff. You're wasting my time and wasting my money if you don't want to pay the price for what it takes to play. I don't have the time to waste, because I told you it was going to be tough.' He looked at me really strangely, and he picked it up, and we completed that day of practice."
The lesson was learned and what has emerged in the years following is one of the top offensive tackles in the nation, a first-team All-Big 12 selection and a 2005 preseason All-American. And while Ray taught Jonathan to excel on the football field, it was his mother, Louise, who did the same for him in the classroom, according to Ray. As Jonathan enters his senior season of eligibility, he has already graduated with a degree in radio, television and film.
"He's been a blessing," Ray said. "If there's a dad walking around who's more proud of his son that I am of Jonathan, I just don't know who that guy could be. He's never given me any trouble. He has developed by my pushing and by his mother's pushing. We would push to a certain level and then know when to pull off, but be there to give him the support or stability that he needed. It's been a true blessing for us."
And the sentiment is returned.
"That's my man. That's my buddy," Jonathan says through a grin. "We laugh about everything and we talk about everything. Just as he's a provider, he's my best friend. He's a great man, a top-of-the-line person, an ideal man."
While Lyle and Kasey return to the Longhorns as seniors, Jonathan has already taken the first step in his father's footsteps when he was drafted by the Detroit Lions in the fifth round of the 2006 NFL Draft. In all three cases, it isn't football that is truly at the heart of the relationships, it's the bond of fathers and sons.
"He's like my brother," Dave said of Kasey. "He pretty much did everything with me when he was up here (in Colorado). I don't see him that much, so it's kind of tough. I miss him. You can tell that."
"Away from football, we're best friends," Lyle said of Robin. "We're always talking and always doing things together like riding motorcycles or going to the lake. We're always hanging out or playing sports. He's a fireman, so on any off day, we would always spend time together."
And in all three cases, as you speak to the three teammates, the word 'idol' tends to consistently come up, but it's never in reference to Namath, Marino or Elway.