AUSTIN (KXAN) — Julius Whittier, the first black letterman in Texas football history, died at on Tuesday at the age of 68, according to the university. He had been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
He graduated with a degree in philosophy before earning his Master’s Degree from the LBJ School of Public Affairs and then his law degree from Texas. He spent most of his career as a senior prosecutor in the Dallas County District Attorney’s office before he retired in 2012.
For his accomplishments on the field, he was inducted into the Longhorn Hall of Honor in 2013 and into the San Antonio Independent School District Hall of Fame in August.
While he missed the 1969 undefeated national championship season due to NCAA rules preventing freshman to play on varsity, he was a member of the 1970 championship team as a back-up offensive lineman.
Consequently, the Longhorns ’69 title team is the last segregated national championship team in college football history.
As a three-year letterman, Whittier was a part of three straight Southwest Conference championships. The Longhorns went 28-5 during that stretch from 1970-1972 and 20-1 in conference play.
Whittier was a versatile athlete for head coach Darrel Royal, playing three different positions — linebacker, o-line and tight end.
While Whittier was neither the first black player for the Longhorns, that was walk-on E. A. Curry in 1967, nor the first black scholarship football player, Leon O’Neal a year later, both failed to earn a varsity letter, paving the way for Whittier to be the first black player to earn that distinction, according to the New York Times.
Whittier’s family is involved wih a lawsuit with the NCAA over brain injuries. In 2012, he was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.