10 best Texas football football NFL careers

Earl Campbell
Earl Campbell / George Gojkovich/GettyImages
7 of 11
Ricky Williams
Ricky Williams / Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Ricky Williams. . Ricky Williams. Ricky Williams. 5. 59. . NFL: 1999-2011. Teams: New Orleans Saints, Miami Dolphins, Baltimore Ravens. player

The running back who arguably had the best individual rushing season in Texas program history, Williams, was amazing in the NFL, too. He had an NFL career that spanned over a decade with three different teams. He was a superstar during his four-year-career at Texas, which featured two AP First-Team All-American nods and a Heisman Trophy in 1998.

Williams was selected by the New Orleans Saints with the fifth overall pick in the first round of thet 1999 NFL Draft. The Saints essentially mortgaged their future to draft Williams in 1999, as New Orleans traded all their remaining draft picks to move up and select him in the first round.

Unfortunately for Williams, the Saints were pretty bad at the time, and he didn't get much help on offense during his rookie campaign in 1999. The Saints were already in the midst of a bad run on the field in the 1990s. And the fact that the Saints gave up so much to get William meant there wasn't much talent elsewhere on the roster.

Despite the Saints ranking in the bottom 10 in the NFL in offensive efficiency and yards per play, Williams still rushed for nearly 900 yards and tallied up over 1,000 total yards of offense during his rookie season in 1999.

Williams had his first 1,000-yard rushing season as he broke out for the Saints after the turn of the century during the 2000 season. He was very instrumental in the Saints' turnaround under head coach Jim Haslett, which helped New Orleans make the playoffs in 2000 after winning just three games the year prior.

Williams' last seasons in New Orleans were in 2000 and 2001. He tallied at least four yards per carry, while registering over 1,000 rushing yards in the 2000 and 2001 seasons for the Saints. Williams also developed into a legitimate receiving threat, tallying nearly 1,000 receiving yards and two touchdown catches in those two seasons.

It was abundantely clear that Williams deserved more consideration than he received for All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors in 2000 and 2001 with the Saints.

At least he finally got that level of recognition after having a career campaign with over 1,800 rushing yards and 16 rushing scores when he was traded from the Saints to the Dolphins ahead of the 2002 season. Williams led the league in rushing yards and rush yards per game for the Dolphins in 2002, leading to his first career All-Pro and Pro Bowl nods.

While he didn't post the same numbers in 2003 that he did the year prior, Williams was still among the league's best running backs for the Dolphins. He registered over 1,300 rushing yards and double-digit total touchdowns while helping to lead the Dolphins to a 10-win season. Miami still missed the playoffs, despite winning double-digit games in 2003.

Due to a combination of choosing to retire in 2005 and a violation of the league's substance abuse policy in 2007, Williams' prime years in the NFL were cut way short in the mid-2000s.

He only played a dozen games, starting in just three, for the Dolphins between the 2005 and 2007 seasons.

Williams returned to the Dolphins to perform at an extremely high level out of the backfield, despite being over 30 years old, in the late 2000s and early 2010s. He had another 1,000 rushing yard season with double-digit rushing touchdowns in 2009.

It makes you wonder what Williams could've done in the NFL production-wise had the prime years of his career not been cut short in the mid-to-late 2000s. Nonetheless, Williams is one of fewer than 30 NFL running backs with at least 10,000 career rushing yards and 60 rushing touchdowns. He is also the only Texas running back to ever accomplish that feat in an NFL career.