Tradition of number 60 lives on at Texas

Ross Burkhart

Countless Texas football players have stepped onto the field since the program was established over a century ago. But only a select few have been given the opportunity to wear a burnt orange jersey with the number 60 sewn in.

From Bobby Goodwin in the late 1950s, Tommy Nobis and Johnny Treadwell during the ‘60s and Britt Hager in the late ‘80s, the number is one that has carried on a legacy of its own at Texas.

“I put my blood, sweat and tears into it, and they were proud the number gets to live on,” Britt said. “It’s cool to have something retired, but it’s another thing to have something that’s living. Every time it got passed down — the same thing happened with Johnny — he said, ‘Look, to keep this thing going, you’ve got to live up to the number.’”

Britt’s time with the Longhorns was largely defined by a number of stellar performances and record-setting seasons, but Texas’ team success never quite matched his level of play.

When Breckyn Hager brought the jersey number out of retirement for this year’s game against Oklahoma, he was faced with the opportunity to do something his father’s Longhorn squad never accomplished — win a game against OU.

“One of our mottos is ‘Going all in,’ and I told Coach Herman how I felt about wearing this number and how I needed to sanctify my father’s legacy and the legacy of number 60,” Breckyn said after the win.

During the third quarter, with Texas leading by one score, Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray struggled to find space in the pocket after receiving a snap out of the shotgun. As Murray fell to the ground, Breckyn capitalized on a fumble and emerged from a scrum of players, holding the football high above his head with two hands.

Among the 92,300 fans in attendance at the Cotton Bowl that day was Lynn Nobis, the wife of the late Texas great, Tommy Nobis.

“It was so nice to see number 60 on the field playing for Texas again,” Lynn said. “That was certainly exciting for us and I’ll tell you, this Oklahoma game that we just had, I think I shed more tears through that whole game … I was so excited. Especially when Breckyn recovered that fumble, I was so proud of him.”

Tommy Nobis, who’s often regarded as one of the best Longhorn athletes of all time, contributed to the program’s first national championship in 1963. He gained All-American status twice in his career at Texas and was a three-time All-Southwest Conference member as well.

As a result of his immense stature at the University, longtime Texas coach Mack Brown retired Tommy’s number in 2008.

It wasn’t until Lynn gave Breckyn her blessing to wear her husband’s number during last year’s Texas Bowl and again in the win over Oklahoma that a Texas player wore the number again.

“That was for Lynn Nobis and Tommy Nobis and basically all the football angels out there who blessed me,” Breckyn said. “It was also for my father who never won at the Cotton Bowl in number 60.”

Across decades, many athletes who have worn the number for Texas have cemented a tradition unlike many others at the University of Texas — one that many fans won’t soon forget.

“I think today in the world we live in with news cycles going every 24 hours, people move on,” Britt said. “It’s good to take a breath, to see something like 60. And I think real fans really like it because they can say ‘We do have a tradition at Texas. We do have a tradition of excellence.’ The number 60 is that.”