Texas Tech Football: 50 Greatest Red Raiders of all time

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Sep 5, 2015; Lubbock, TX, USA; A general view of the Will Rogers statue outside the Jones AT&T Stadium prior to the game between the Texas Tech Red Raiders and the Sam Houston State Bearkats at Jones AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

No. 28 – Elmer Tarbox (Defensive Back 1936 – 1938)

A true pioneer of Texas Tech football is No. 27 on the list of the 50 greatest players in Texas Tech history.

Considering that the forward pass had only been legal in college football for 30 years prior to Elmer Tarbox’ first season at Texas Technological College, it is hard to comprehend that the school’s second-all-time leader in interceptions is a man who played in the 1930’s.

Tarbox was born in Bishop, OK but was raised in the small Texas Panhandle town of Higgins. At Texas Tech, he lettered in basketball, football, and track, and was named the Co-Outstanding Player of the 1939 Cotton Bowl Classic.

Despite being selected 18th overall in the 1939 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Rams, Tarbox decided not to play professional football.

While Tarbox was an accomplished athlete, his life after football was far more remarkable. As a pilot in World War II, Tarbox earned an Air Medal, a Silver Star and a Purple Heart.

In 1966, the former Tech standout was elected to the Texas House of Representatives. During his time in office, he served on the Appropriations Committee that established the Texas Tech University School of Law, and what is now the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC).

 After being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, from which he would die in 1987, Tarbox established the Tarbox Parkinson’s Disease Institute in 1972. Elmer Tarbox is one of the most successful Red Raiders to play football but his accomplishments after his playing career far overshadow what he did on the gridiron.

Next: Colby Whitlock