Editors Note: This is part of a weekly series looking back at past Texas athletes and where they are now. This week features former cornerback Bryant Westbrook, who played for Texas from 1993-1996.
Not all that long ago, Bryant Westbrook was one of the most feared cornerbacks to ever put on a Texas helmet.
His hit against Notre Dame’s Randy Kinder in 1996 on an option prompted legendary announcer Keith Jackson to say, “The important thing right now is to make sure Randy Kinder can find a place to lay down.”
And when he knocked Virginia Tech fullback Brian Edmonds unconscious in the 1995 Sugar Bowl, ABC announcer Mark Jones said, “Somebody answer the phone because there’s a bell ringing, and it’s Bryant Westbrook.”
Westbrook helped bring Texas football back in the late ’90s, garnering a second-team All-American his senior year in addition to first-team selections in both the last year of the Southwest Conference and the first year of the Big 12.
“[My class] came in and laid down the foundation for Texas getting back on the map,” Westbrook said.
His outstanding college career led the Detroit Lions to pick him fifth overall in the 1997 NFL Draft. Unfortunately, injuries derailed his career and held him back from reaching his potential.
Westbrook was selected to the 1997 All-Rookie team, and, in 2000, he led the NFL in interceptions before a torn Achilles tendon ended his season. Three years later, he tore his other Achilles tendon and was out of the NFL by age 28.
It’s been 17 years since Westbrook made his presence felt in Austin. He now coaches for the Saguaro High School football team in Scottsdale, Arizona.
“We have one of the top kids in the country in [ESPN No. 36 WR] Christian Kirk,” Westbrook said. “In one-on-one drills, I’ll go with him, and I’m good for five yards. My mind says you can do it, but my body can’t.”
When he left the NFL in 2004, Westbrook teamed up with trainer Mike Stojkovic to open a gym called Texas Acceleration & Sports Training in Houston.
But it wasn’t until an ex-teammate from the Lions helped land him a coaching gig in Arizona that Westbrook began to really enjoy his life after football.
“I fulfilled my life after football by coaching high school football,” Westbrook said. “It was my obligation to give back to kids with my knowledge in the game of football. It’s almost as fun as playing.”
Westbrook is currently the secondary coach for Saguaro, but his ventures don’t end there.
He joined fellow Saguaro coach and former NFL kicker Mike Vanderjagt to help run Slapiton, a custom artwork company for athletes.
It’s been a while since Westbrook delivered a bone-jarring hit, but the fact that he is sometimes a forgotten star doesn’t bother him.
“I’m enjoying coaching football, golf twice a week and having to explain to the players how good I really was,” Westbrook said. “I always say, ‘Thank God for Google.’”