WYLIE — Charles Garland “Bubba” Thornton is one of six members of The Class of 2015 named Friday to be inducted in The Texas Track and Field Hall of Fame.
Thornton earned NJCAA Honorable Mention All-American honors while playing football at Navarro during the 1967-68 season. The Keller, Tx., product transferred ’home’ to play football and run track at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth before he was drafted in the 1969 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills with the first pick of the 14th round.
Thornton joins jumps-coach specialist Sue Humphrey and four Olympians – high jumper Amy Acuff of Corpus Christi, Olympian pole vaulter Dave Clark, sprinter Dean Smith and quartermiler and relays member Early Young — as newest TTFCA Hall of Fame members in ceremony January 9, 2015, at The Crowne Plaza Hotel in Addison, Tx.
Thornton enjoyed diverse success throughout his career.
In his only NFL season, he caught 14 passes for 134 yards, but the rookie also finished third among American Football League kick-returners with a 25-yard average.
After pro football, he returned to Keller, where he doubled as head football coach and athletic director at his high school alma mater. In 1982, he became head track coach at TCU, where he remained for 13 years.
But he was only beginning to establish himself in track and field.
In 31 seasons at the helm of a collegiate program (18 at The University of Texas), Thornton produced 26 NCAA Champions, 1 relay champion, 20 NCAA Top-10 team finishes, and 222 All-American honors. His squads won 12 conference championships. At his retirement in 2013, Thornton’s UT athletes held 18 of 29 school indoor records and 14 of 29 school outdoor marks.
For his accomplishments, he was named as US Olympic Track and Field Head Coach in 2008 and led the delegation to competition in Beijing. At the 2003 World Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Paris, France, he coached Team USA to a meet-high 20 medals, including 10 golds.
Among the athletes that the six-time Big 12 Conference Coach of the Year coached includes jumper/short sprinter Marquise Goodwin, decathlete Trey Hardee, high jumper Andra Manson, middle-distance runner Leonel Manzano, and Jamaican sprinter Raymond Stewart.
…TTFCA Hall of Fame Class of 2015