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Elmer tarbox - inductee #193

Elmer Tarbox

Tarbox grew up in tiny Higgins in the northeast Panhandle in the late 1920s and 1930s.  He saw part of one football game in his life when he enrolled at Texas Tech in 1935. Despite that, he went on to become one of the best Red Raider football players in school history and later a decorated World War II pilot, state representative in the Texas legislature and successful businessman.

Tarbox walked onto the football team, and the 190-pounder, while still new to the sport, became an exceptional two-way player at halfback and cornerback. As a senior in 1938, Tarbox led the country in yards per catch while also finishing seventh in rushing yards and 10th in receiving yards.

But it was on defense where he shined. His 11 interceptions that senior year are still a Tech single-season record 84 years later, and his 17 career interceptions are second all-time. Tarbox was named the co-outstanding player of the 1939 Cotton Bowl. He was selected the Wheaties Cereal Champion and the All-College Texas Football Player of the Year.

He was drafted 18th overall by the Cleveland Browns, but didn’t opt for the NFL. He later served as a pilot in the Army Air Corps in World War II and was awarded an Air Medal, Silver Star and Purple Heart for missions in the Pacific Ocean. In 1966, he was elected to the Texas State House of Representatives where he served for 10 years.

Tarbox received the ultimate football honor at Tech in 2021 when he was inducted into the Ring of Honor and his name enshrined at Jones Stadium. Tarbox died at age 71 in 1987 of Parkinson’s Disease which he lived with for more than 20 years.

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