Roosevelt Leaks

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Roosevelt Leaks
No. 48
Position: Running back
Personal information
Date of birth: (1953-01-31) January 31, 1953 (age 62)
Place of birth: Brenham, Texas, United States
Height: 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)
Weight: 255 lb (116 kg)
Career information
High school: Brenham High School
College: Texas
NFL draft: 1975 / Round: 5 / Pick: 105
Career history
Career highlights and awards

High School

  • 2× Texas All-State running back and linebacker
  • Parade High School All-American
  • THSCA All-Star game participant
  • Texas Sports Hall of Fame inductee (2009)


Career NFL statistics
Rushing yards: 2,406
Rushing Average: 3.6
Rushing Touchdowns: 28
Stats at

Roosevelt Leaks, Jr. (born January 31, 1953 in Brenham, Texas) is a former All-American running back and 2005 inductee to the College Football Hall of Fame. He was the first black All-American player in University of Texas history and went on to play in the NFL for the Baltimore Colts and Buffalo Bills.

Early life[edit]

Leaks grew up on a farm in Brenham, Texas where they raised, among other things, cotton and corn. His father was a farmer and day laborer. Leaks was an all-state running back and linebacker for Brenham High School in 1969 and 1970,[1] and a star hitter and outfielder for the baseball team and helped Brenham win its first state championship in that sport in 1970.[2] Heavily recruited, he had his mind set on going to the University of Houston, until he realized that the Cougars had three other running backs in his recruiting class. Instead he signed with his second choice, the University of Texas.[3]

College career[edit]

Roosevelt Leaks arrived at Texas in 1971, only one year after the Longhorns football team had their first black Letterman. He sat out the 1971 season, as freshmen weren't eligible to play varsity at the time. But in 1972 and 1973 he emerged as one of the country's top running backs.

In 1972, he was the team's leading rusher, running for 1099 yards and 8 touchdowns, making him only the 2nd Longhorn to rush for 1000 yards in a season. He earned All-Southwest Conference honors as a running back and helped his team to a 10-1 record, #3 ranking and a win over Alabama in the 1973 Cotton Bowl. In that game he rushed for 120 yards, which, at the time, was the 3rd best performance by a Texas running back in the Cotton Bowl. Quarterback Alan Lowry also ran for more than 100 yards in that game, making it the first time Texas had two 100-yard rushers in the same bowl game.

As well as Leaks did in 1972, he was even better in 1973. He was again the team's leading rusher, but this time setting a school and Southwest Conference record by rushing for 1415 yards. He also set or tied 7 other school records that season, including the conferenece record for most yards in a game when he ran for 342 yards in a 42-14 win over SMU. This was only 8 yards short of Eric Allen's NCAA record of 350 yards set in 1971. He was again named All-Southwest Conference, as well as a consensus All-American. He finished in 3rd place in Heisman balloting that year, which made him only the 5th Longhorn Heisman finalist and tied him with James Saxton's 1961 performance for the best Longhorn Heisman finish. That season Texas went 8-3 and won another Southwest Conference Title, but lost the 1974 Cotton Bowl to Nebraska to finish ranked #14.

Going into the 1974 season, Leaks was the early favorite for the 1974 Hesiman Trophy. But in spring drills, he suffered a serious injury when he leaped into the air and another player's helmet hit his knee. The injury required surgery and Leaks was given the option to either play in 1974 or take a redshirt season. He chose to play, but he missed the first game and was hobbled by injuries all season. Freshman Earl Campbell was given the majority of carries and was the team's leading rusher and bowl MVP that year.[3] Leaks carried the ball 96 times for 409 yards and 4 touchdowns. The Longhorns went 8-4, came in 2nd in the Southwest Conference and lost to Auburn in the Gator Bowl, in which Leaks did not play.


  • UT Record - Most rushing yards, game (342), surpassed by Ricky Williams in 1998
  • UT Record - Most rushing yards by a junior, game (342)
  • UT Record - Most rushing yards, road game (342)
  • UT Record - Most rushing yards, season (1,415), surpassed by Earl Campbell in 1977
  • UT Record - Most touchdowns, season (14), tied Byron Townsend, Steve Worster and Donnie Wigginton, surpassed by Campbell in 1977
  • UT Record - Most 100-yard games, season (7), tied Chris Gilbert, surpassed by Campbell in 1977
  • UT Record - Most 200-yard games, season (2), tied Gilbert, tied by Campbell in 1977, surpassed by Ricky Williams in 1997
  • UT Record - Most 300-yard total offense games, season (1), tied Eddie Phillips, surpassed by Donnie Little in 1980
  • UT Record - Most 300-yard total offense games, career (1), tied Eddie Phillips, surpassed by Donnie Little in 1980
  • UT Record - Highest Heisman voting finish (3rd), tied James Saxton, surpassed by Campbell in 1977
  • SWC Record - Most rushing yards, game (342), surpassed by Tony Jeffery of TCU in 1987
  • SWC Record - Most rushing yards, season (1,415), surpassed by Campbell in 1977

Candidate for Heisman[edit]

1973 Heisman Trophy Finalist Voting
Finalist First place votes
(3 pts. each)
Second place votes
(2 pts. each)
Third place votes
(1 pt. each)
Total points
John Cappelletti 229 142 86 1,057
John Hicks 114 64 54 524
Roosevelt Leaks 74 80 100 482
David Jaynes 65 68 63 394
Archie Griffin 45 63 65 326
Randy Gradishar 47 53 35 282

NFL and later life[edit]

Roosevelt Leaks was drafted in the 5th round of the 1975 NFL draft by the Baltimore Colts. He played 5 years for the Colts, putting up 1268 yards and 14 touchdowns, but he spent most of his fifth season on the sidelines after the Colts added former first-round choice Don Hardeman. At the end of that season he was waived by the Colts and picked up by the Buffalo Bills, where he spent four years carrying the ball and blocking for Joe Cribbs. He was considered one of the best blocking backs in the NFL and went to the playoffs 5 out of 9 years.[5] At training camp of his 10th year he was cut by the Bills. At that point, only one running back from his class, Walter Payton, was still playing.[3]

Leaks and his wife had been working in the real estate business for several years before his football career ended and he transitioned into it full time.[3] In 1987, he began working with Texas General Land Office in Austin, eventually becoming the Director of Veterans Land Board Appraisals. He retired from that job in 2013.[6]