Julius Whittier, Texas Longhorns football trailblazer, dead at 68

Julius Whittier, the first black athlete to letter in football at the University of Texas, died Tuesday, the Houston Chronicle reported. He was 68. His death was announced by the university on Thursday.

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Whittier, a San Antonio native, was among the first blacks to receive a scholarship at Texas, KSAT reported.

Whittier came to Austin in 1969 and starred for three seasons for the Longhorns (1970-72), playing the offensive line his first two years before moving to tight end, the Dallas Morning News reported. He also played linebacker. During his time at Texas, the Longhorns won three straight Southwest Conference titles and were named the 1970 national champions by United Press International.

The first black player for the Longhorns was walk-on E. A. Curry in 1967, while the first black scholarship football player was Leon O'Neal a year later, KXAN reported. Both failed to earn a varsity letter, the television station reported.

Whittier was inducted into the Longhorn Hall of Honor in 2013 and the San Antonio San Antonio Independent School District Hall of Fame in August, the Chronicle reported.

Whittier earned his bachelor's degree in philosophy from the University of Texas, then a graduate degree from the LBJ School of Public Affairs in 1976, KSAT reported.

He earned his law degree at Texas and worked as a senior prosecutor in Dallas before retiring in 2012 because of failing health, the Chronicle reported.

Whittier was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and his sister, Mildred, filed a class-action lawsuit on his behalf against the NCAA in 2014. The suit in U.S. District Court sought up to $50 million in damages for players from 1960 to 2014, who did not play in the NFL, who have been diagnosed with a brain injury or disease, the Chronicle reported.

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