AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — The 2023 NFL Draft is set to begin on April 27, here’s a look back at the top drafted players from the Texas Panhandle.
This list is compiled of 12 NFL-drafted athletes that were born or attended high school in the Texas Panhandle. These athletes are not listed in any order, the Panhandle has birthed plenty of great NFL athletes this list is a way to honor them.
Drafted NFL players from the Texas Panhandle include:
- Ryan Tannehill (2012) RD: 1, Pick: 8
Ryan Tannehill was born in Lubbock and grew up in nearby Big Spring. He attended Big Spring High School, where he was an all-star playing football and basketball and running on the track and field team. He began playing 10 games as a defensive back in his sophomore season before becoming the three-star quarterback recruit as a junior, he passing for 2,510 yards and rushing for 922. He took his team to the playoffs as a senior, passing for 1,258 yards and rushing for another 617. He graduated from Texas A&M where he began playing wide receiver during his freshman and sophomore year before becoming their star quarterback. Tannehill would be drafted in the first round and has played 10 seasons for the Titans and Dolphins. He has thrown for 33,265 yards and 212 touchdowns. He was selected to play in one Pro Bowls and has won one Comeback Player of the Year award.
- Zach Thomas (1996) RD: 5, Pick: 154
Zach Thomas was born in Pampa. He attended White Deer High School until he was a sophomore then transferred to Pampa High School in his junior year. He was a standout high school football player and was named a first-team all-state selection as a senior. Thomas would stay in the Panhandle attending Texas Tech University, where he was a three-year starter at linebacker for the Texas Tech Red Raider football team. He garnered plenty of awards including unanimous first-team All-American, the Big 12 Conference Defensive Player of the Year, and a finalist for the Butkus Award and more. Thomas was drafted in the fifth round playing 13 seasons for the Dolphins and Cowboys. He had 682 solo tackles, 400 assists, 20.5 sacks, 8 fumble recoveries, and 17 interceptions. He was selected to play in seven Pro Bowls. He was also recently inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame.
- Ziggy Hood (2009) RD: 1, Pick: 32
Ziggy Hood was born in Amarillo and attended Palo Duro High School as a top performer in both football and track and field. In his senior year, he was named 3-4A Defensive Player of the Year with a total of 93 tackles, including 13.0 sacks, and scoring three defensive touchdowns. He would play the next level at the University of Missouri, finishing with 170 tackles 98 solos, 15.5 sacks, 22.5 tackles for loss 22 quarterback pressures, and five forced fumbles. Hood was drafted in the first round and played 10 seasons for five teams, including the Steelers and Redskins. He had 141 solo tackles, 90 assists, 14.0 sacks, and five fumble recoveries.
- William Thomas (1960) RD: 4, Pick: 104
William Thomas was born in Amarillo and attended Palo Duro High School after a dominating career in high school he later attended Texas A&M University. He would earn a draft spot in the fourth round being selected by the Philadelphia Eagles where he would play nine straight seasons. Thomas played a total of 11 seasons for the Eagles and Raiders. He had 730 solo tackles, 37.0 sacks, 12 fumble recoveries, and 27 interceptions. He was selected to play in two Pro Bowls.
- Crockett Gilmore (2014) RD: 3, Pick: 199
Crockett Gillmore was born in Amarillo and attended Bushland High School where he was teammates with Weston Richburg. Gillmore was named first-team all-district for both wide receiver and defensive end, he was named the Golden Spread 2A-3A Player of the Year. Gilmore would gon to be drafted in the third round playing three seasons for the Ravens. He had 51 catches for 604 yards and scored six touchdowns.
- Ron Shanklin (1970) RD: 2, Pick: 28
Ron Shanklin was born in Hubbard Texas however he attended Amarillo Carver High School where he dominated the track running a blistering fast quarter mile earning him a scholarship to the University of North Texas. UNT is where Shanklin would pick up a football, Shanklin caught 131 passes for 3,018 yards and 35 touchdowns during his time at UNT. Shanklin set a school record with three touchdowns in a game during his 13-touchdown season, which was also a school record. Shanklin earned all-Missouri Valley Conference honors in 1967 and 1969. He would later play six seasons for the Steelers and Bears. He had 168 catches for 3,079 yards and scored 24 touchdowns. He was selected to play in one Pro Bowl and was a part of winning one championship.
- Junior Coffey (1965) RD: 7, Pick: 94
Junior Coffey was born in Kyle, Texas, he attended Dimmitt High School where he would be known as one of the fastest athletes in the state of Texas at that time. He was the anchor to Dimmitt’s offense and defense, during his junior season he rushed for 1294 yards on 165 carries while also leading the defense with 185 tackles from the linebacker position. Coffey was an All-State football and basketball player. Coffey was the first black athlete ever to play in a Texas UIL state basketball tournament. He was not able to go to college in Texas due to integration, so he attended Washington University finishing with a three-time all-conference selection and Honorable Mention All-American all three seasons. Coffey was drafted in the seventh round and played 5 seasons for the Falcons, Packers, and Giants. He had 535 carries for 2,037 yards, 64 catches for 487 yards, and scored 15 touchdowns. He won 1 championship.
- Donny Anderson (1965) RD: 1, Pick: 7
Donny Anderson was born in Borger and he graduated from Stinnett High School. He was an All-state athlete in both football and basketball, in the summer he played baseball and he also placed in the All-State track meet running the relay and hurdles. He went on to attend Texas Tech University where he played halfback nicknamed the “Golden Palomino.” The Golden Palomino finished fourth in the 1965 Heisman Trophy race, held records for TTU, and is also part of the TTU Hall of Fame as well as the College Football Hall of Fame. Anderson would go on to get drafted in the first round, playing 9 seasons for the Packers and Cardinals. He carried the ball 1,197 times for 4,696 yards, with 209 catches for 2,548 yards, and 56 touchdowns. He was selected to play in one Pro Bowl and won two championships.
- Lawrence McCutcheon (1972) RD: 3, Pick: 70
Lawrence McCutcheon was born in Plainview where he attended Plainview High School. The 6′ 2″ 215 pound running back only played one year at Plainview High rushing for 589 yards. He would make Colorado State his home by rushing for 2,917 yards in three seasons and setting more than 20 records. McCutcheon was then drafted in the third round and played 10 seasons for four teams, including the Rams and Bills. He recorded 1,521 carries for 6,578 yards, 198 catches for 1,799 yards, and scored 39 touchdowns. He ended his career with five Pro Bowls selections.
- Jerry Sizemore (1973) RD: 1, Pick: 3
Jerry Sisemore was born in Olton, Texas in 1961. He attended Plainview High School where he played Varsity football as a sophomore, he also played basketball and threw shot put. The second-all-state offensive lineman would eventually attend the University of Texas and become a two-time All-American offensive tackle along with being selected as a three-time All-Southwest Conference player. Sisemore would dominate his college stint and be drafted in the first round and played 12 seasons for the Eagles. He appeared in 156 games. He was selected to play in two Pro Bowls.
- Kenneth Leon King (1979) RD: 3, Pick: 72
Kenny King was born in Clarendon, Texas in 1957. He would attend Clarendon High School where he became known as one of the best running back in Texas. He was a two-time all-state running back who ran for 2,000 yards and 20 touchdowns during his senior season. At the next level, King would attend Oklahoma University and become one of the first players to run the Wishbone offense in the 1970s. He immediately became an impact at the university rushing for 839 yards his sophomore year, Billy Simms would later join OU and King took the back seat to finish his collegiate career. After college, King would be drafted in the third round and played seven seasons for the Raiders and Oilers. He had 579 carries for 2,477 yards, 89 catches for 715 yards and scored 8 touchdowns. He was selected to play in one Pro Bowl and won two championships.
- Weston Richburg (1991) RD: 2, Pick: 43
Weston Richburg was born in Bushland in 1991. He attended Bushland High School as a two-sport athlete in football and track. He played both sides of the ball as an offensive and defensive lineman, and he earned a state title in track and field as a thrower. He was not regarded among the best offensive lineman, only being rated a two-star he only received two offers. He would attend Colorado State and by his senior year, he was touted as one of the best center prospects in the draft. Richburg would go on to get drafted in the second round and played six seasons for the Giants and 49ers. He appeared in 79 games.