High school football season is underway in Corpus Christi, and there are already players people are watching.

Football is just one of the high school sports that the community traditionally supports and celebrates. And Coastal Bend is no stranger to seeing student-athletes advance to the major leagues.

Below are 12 professional athletes born or raised in the Corpus Christi area, including an Olympian, NFL Hall of Famer, and NASCAR Cup Series champions.

Amy Acuff – athletics

Born in Port Arthur, this graduate of Callallen High School was the salutatorian in 1993. She competed for the United States in track and field five times between 1996 and 2012. She is a six-time United States Outdoor Champion and a five-time United States Indoor Champion.

Acuff’s personal best indoor high jump was 1.97 meters in Indianapolis in March 1995. His best outdoor high jump was 2.01 meters in Zurich in August 2003.

She participated in 27 international competitions between 1992 and 2012.

John Michael Adams – relief pitcher

Adams grew up in Sinton and played baseball and basketball at Sinton High School. He attended Texas A&M University-Kingsville, where he continued to play both sports before being signed by the Milwaukee Brewers in 2001 as an undrafted free agent.

Philadelphia Phillies #37 Mike Adams throws in the eighth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals during an MLB baseball game April 21, 2013 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  The Phillies beat the Cardinals 7-3 as Adams recorded the win.

He played for the Brewers from 2004 to 2006, the San Diego Padres from 2008 to 2011, the Texas Rangers from 2011 to 2012 and the Philadelphia Phillies from 2013 to 2014.

Throughout his MLB career, his win-loss record was 21-20 with a 2.41 ERA and 409 strikeouts.

Roberto Elizondo – boxer

Born in Corpus Christi, the former professional boxer twice fought for the World Boxing Council’s lightweight title but came up short both times. Elizondo competed in professional boxing from 1977 to 1987 and is a member of the Corpus Christi Boxing Hall of Fame.

Boxes by Roberto Elizondo at the Memorial Coliseum.

He made his debut in April 1977 at the Lantana Sports Complex against four wins and eight losses from boxer Rodolfo Perez. In December 1980, Elizondo made his Las Vegas debut and had 13 wins, 11 losses and three draws against Jesus Salcedo.

Elizondo retired in 1987 with a record 31 wins and six losses in 38 professional boxing bouts, with 23 wins and five losses by knockout.

Clint Gresham — long snapper

Born and raised in Corpus Christi, Gresham graduated from Ray High School in 2005. He began his college career at the University of Oklahoma, then transferred to Texas Christian University and graduated in 2009.

Seattle Seahawks No. 49 and No. 4 Clint Gresham and kicker Steven Hauschka, respectively, celebrate with the George Halas Trophy after the Seahawks' 23-17 win over the San Francisco 49ers in the 2014 NFC Championship at CenturyLink Field on Jan. Dec. 19, 2014, in Seattle, Washington.

He was the only long snapper invited to the 2010 NFL Draft, but he was not selected and was signed as an undrafted free agent for that year’s season by the New Orleans Saints. After being picked up by the Seattle Seahawks in August 2010, Gresham resigned in 2015 but was released by the Seahawks a year later.

During his NFL career, he played 96 games and won Super Bowl XLVIII in 2014.

Burt “Happy” Hooton – pitcher

Hooton was born in Greenville in North Texas and graduated from King High School in 1968. While at King, he led the Mustangs to a 4A State Championship in the second year of operation. school in 1967.

Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Burt Hooton raises his hands as if to say:

After attending the University of Texas at Austin, Hooton made his MLB debut in June 1971. He only appeared in three games before the end of the season, where he struck out 15 in one game. He was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1975 and played his final season with the Texas Rangers in 1985.

After hanging up his glove, Hooton returned to his college to earn a degree in journalism, then began a career coaching pitchers with the Salem Dodges, San Antonio Missions, Albuquerque Dukes and San Diego Padres.

Brooks Kieschnick – pitcher/outfielder

Born in Robstown, Kieschnick graduated from Carroll High School and attended the University of Texas at Austin, where he played three seasons of baseball.

Milwaukee Brewers No. 55 Brooks Kieschnick throws during the game against the Houston Astros April 9, 2004 at Miller Park in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  The Astros beat the Brewers 13-7.

He was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in 1993 as part of an amateur draft and made his major league debut in April 1996. Kieschnick was with the Cubs for two years before diving into minor league teams for a few years. He played with the Cincinnati Reds in 2000, the Colorado Rockies in 2001 and the Milwaukee Brewers from 2003 to 2004.

Kieschnick is the only baseball player to twice win the Dick Howser Trophy, an award given to college baseball’s top player.

Bobby and Terry Labonte — stock car drivers

The Labonte brothers were born in Corpus Christi and moved to North Carolina in 1978 to follow Terry Labonte’s advancement in the Winston Cup series.

Terry and Bobby Labonte are brothers inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

They are one of only two pairs of brothers to have won the former NASCAR Winston Cup and Sprint Cup Series, now called the NASCAR Cup Series. In Bobby Labonte’s 25-year career, he’s been in 729 races and his brother’s in 890 over his 37-year career.

Terry and Bobby Labonte were inductees into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2016 and 2020, respectively.

Riley Odoms – tight butt

Odoms was born in Luling, northeast of San Antonio, and graduated from West Oso High School. He played football at the University of Houston before making his debut for the Denver Broncos in 1972.

Riley Odoms, a graduate of West Oso High School, played for the Denver Broncos from 1972 to 1983.

During his 11-year football career, Odoms played for the Broncos, where he had 396 receptions for 5,755 yards and scored 41 touchdowns.

Odoms was a four-time Pro Bowl and two-time All Pro selection in the 1970s.

Johnny Roland – running back

The former running back was born and raised in Corpus Christi and graduated from Miller High School. He played college football at the University of Missouri and rushed for 830 yards in 1962, which was the seventh-best total in the nation.

St. Louis Cardinals fullback Johnny Roland (23) carries the ball against the Philadelphia Eagles at Busch Memorial Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri on October 22, 1967.

Roland was drafted in 1965 by the St. Louis Cardinals and was named UPI NFL-NFC Rookie of the Year in 1966. He played with the Cardinals for seven seasons, then played one season with the New York Giants . He started his coaching career in 1974 and ended it in 2005.

In his 103 NFL games, Roland rushed for 3,750 yards and 28 touchdowns on 1,015 attempts, caught 153 passes for 1,430 yards and six touchdowns, returned 49 punts for 452 yards with two touchdowns, returned 22 kickoffs for 444 yards and completed five of 13 passes for 130 yards and a touchdown.

Jose Trevino – receiver

The new kid on the block, Trevino was born in Corpus Christi and graduated from St. John Paul II High School. He attended Oral Roberts University in Oklahoma and played for the Golden Eagles. In 2013, he played college summer baseball for the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox in the Cape Cod Baseball League.

American League wide receiver Jose Trevino (39) of the New York Yankees during batting practice at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on July 18, 2022.

Trevino made his professional debut with the Spokane Indians in 2014, then played for the High Desert Mavericks in 2016 and for the Frisco RoughRiders in 2017. He made his major league debut in 2018 with the Texas Rangers and was traded to the New York Yankees in 2022.

He was named an American League All-Star reserve at wide receiver in 2022 after racking up the second-most WAR (wins above replacement) receivers in the league.

Gene Upshaw – guard

Upshaw was born in Robstown and graduated from high school there. He played college football at Texas A&I University, now Texas A&M University-Kingsville, in 1963.

Gene Upshaw was born in Robstown before spending more than a decade in the NFL.

Also known as “Uptown Gene” and “Highway 63”, Upshaw played left offensive guard for the Oakland Raiders from 1967 to 1981. During that time, he played in three Super Bowls in 1967, 1976 and 1980, making making him the first player to reach the game in three different decades.

Upshaw was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1987 and also inducted into the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame in 1996.


After:From Robstown to the NFL: Gene Upshaw’s Endless Impact on Football and South Texas

After:Corpus Christi Week 1 Recap, Coastal Bend High School Football Games

John Oliva covers entertainment and community news in South Texas. Contact him at [email protected] or Twitter @johnpoliva.

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