Texas Tech will induct one of its first greats into its Football Ring of Honor this year.
Elmer Tarbox, a 1938 Cotton Bowl 10-1 half-back and whose 11 interceptions are still the single-season school record, is the final selection, Tech said on Wednesday.
In addition to dominating the country in interceptions in 1938, Tarbox placed in the national top 10 in rushing yards and yards per game. He was an honorable mention from all over America.
To illustrate how he was viewed at the time, Tarbox garnered more votes than TCU Heisman Trophy winner Davey O’Brien as the 1938 “Wheaties Cereal Champion”.
“Elmer Tarbox’s legacy lives on to this day, making him an ideal candidate to join the Ring of Honor,” athletic director Kirby Hocutt said in Tech’s announcement. “He really was the Texas Tech version of Jim Thorpe. On the pitch he could do it all, whether as a rusher, a pass catcher or a defensive back where he is most appreciated. We can’t wait to recognize. the Tarbox family this season and have their name permanently engraved on Jones AT&T Stadium. “
Tarbox died in 1987. He was inducted with wide receiver Michael Crabtree in the Tech-Florida International game on September 18. They are the sixth and seventh inductees since Hocutt began the Ring of Honor in 2012.
The name and number of each member of the Ring of Honor – Tarbox was number 21 – are engraved on the west wall of Jones AT&T Stadium facing the pitch.
With Texas Tech playing their 1,000th football game in 2015, AJ made Tarbox a first-team pick on the program’s all-time squad.
He came to Tech from the small Panhandle community of Higgins, never having played football. He ended his career being named the Cotton Bowl Co-MVP. Tech lost to St. Mary’s 20-13, ending the season 10-1.
Tarbox’s 17 interceptions, second on the school career roster, were the technical record until Tracy Saul selected 25 from 1989 to 1992. Tarbox was selected 18th overall in the 1939 NFL Draft. He never played in the league, instead enlisting to serve the country in World War II and flying B-25 bomber missions.
He was awarded an Air Medal, a Silver Star and a Purple Heart during his military career.
In 1966, Tarbox was elected to the Texas House of Representatives. His work on the credits committee helped establish both the Texas Tech School of Law and what is now the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center. Tarbox was also president of the Texas Tech Alumni Association.
He founded the Tarbox Parkinson’s Disease Institute in 1972 at the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center to develop a treatment for the disease that ended up costing him his life.