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Marty Akins: Reflections from the former Longhorn QB

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Former University of Texas quarterback, Marty Akins, played with the Longhorns from 1972 to 1975 under Darrell Royal.

He was an All-American and the only Longhorn quarterback to start three seasons under the UT wishbone offense.

Being a wishbone quarterback means you’ve got to be tough and have a bulldog mentality. It also means knowing how to play injured.

“You’ve got to be a tough person because you are going to get hit on every play and, through the season, you are going to receive injuries to your elbows, wrists, your knees, your shoulders,” Marty said. “I played with all kinds of injuries those four years at Texas. I even played with a broken big toe or Astroturf toe that got shot up after many, many games just so I could play. You’ve go to have the mindset that you are going to play hurt. If you don’t, you’re never going to play.”

Before he played for Texas, he played under his father Ray Akins. Ray was the head coach at Gregory Portland High School near Corpus Christi. He won 302 games during his career.

“It was a very good experience and I learned a lot, because I lived with my head coach as my dad and we watched films all of the time and from the time I was born until I got to be in high school,” Marty said. “We were always watching films, going over plays, going over defenses, going over situations and games and so it was a great learning experience to get me to college.”

Ray ran more of a pro-set offense unlike the wishbone that Marty ran and mastered at the University of Texas.

“In the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, we threw the ball a lot in high school, which was sort of an apparition, because most people ran the ball. We did run the ball, too, but we threw probably about 40 or 50 percent of the time, which was a lot back then. So, I ran the ball in high school, but mostly I threw the ball,” Marty said. “Coming to Texas and running the wishbone was something new for me.”

When Marty came out of high school, he had a lot of colleges recruiting him, including Notre Dame. Marty said he always wanted to play for them, but wanted to stay close to home where his mother and father could see him play.

“Well, I was recruited by Notre Dame. I really did like the school and I made up my mind that I was going to go to Notre Dame. I was really excited about it, but my dad, being a high school football coach and my mom a school teacher, we sat down and talked about it and they said 'Look, we will never get to see you play a college game in the stadium,'” Akins said.

As a high school football coach, Ray always had “films” on Saturday mornings. Therefore, Marty knew there was no way could he ever come to see him play at the stadium. He knew they’d be able to watch him on the television, but that wasn’t enough for him.

“That was a big decision maker for me,” Marty said. “I decided I wanted them to be able to come and watch me play football in college. So, I decided I was going to stay in Texas. When I did that, I knew I was going to go to Texas.”

At the time, Darrell Royal was running the wishbone offense. That’s not exactly a quarterback-friendly offense, but it was one Marty adopted well.

“I had never run the option before. It was a learning experience, but I picked it up pretty quickly with Coach Royal’s help. I got to where I think I mastered it and got to where I could almost do it blindfolded,” Marty said.

Royal was always pushing Marty to be better.

“Coach Royal used to always tell me, because I would say, 'Let’s throw a little bit more,' and he says, ‘Son, you are throwing every play,’” Marty said. “He said, ‘You are pitching that ball back and that’s a pass and I told you that he counted up that I had 123 touchdown passes backward and forward,’ so he told me that as far as he was concerned, that’s how many touchdown passes I had when I left Texas. He told me not to worry about whether they were forward or backward.”

According to Marty, Royal was a second dad to him because they used to do the same thing he and his dad used to do.

“As far as watching films, going over game plans, talking about strategy, I did the same things with him (his dad) for all of those years,” Marty said.

He said he frequently visited Royal’s house.

“We used to take checkers, literally, and he would put them in a defense and I would have the offense and he would say, ‘Who are you going to read on this play? Who are you going to option off on this play?’ We would go through all of the different defenses with those checkers and make the audibles, because we audibled a lot on the line of scrimmage, because when you ran the wishbone, you always wanted to run where there were five guys instead of six,” Marty said.

To this day, they still have a special relationship.

“I try to go and eat lunch with him at least every week or every three weeks and we still have that really close knit relationship,” Marty said.

Marty was also able to play with both Roosevelt Leaks and Earl Campbell directly behind him in the backfield during his time at Texas.

“Those two guys are very fine men, as well as great football players and I thought that my relationship with Roosevelt was very special and even more so with Earl because of the fact that in the wishbone, the fullback is standing right behind you and you are always putting the ball in his belly and reading the tackle,” Marty said. “Either you are giving them the ball or [you’ll] be pulling out and going to the next option, so I got to be real close to those guys and I was very lucky to have the opportunity to play with guys of their caliber.”

Tuesday night, Marty Akins will share his thoughts about the Horns’ 1973 Cotton Bowl Victory against Alabama. He’ll also discuss his most memorable moment as a Longhorn.

“We had Darrell Royal against Bear Bryant and it was a great experience,” Akins said.

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