Don Trull played football for the Baylor Bears from 1961 to 1963 where he was one of the top quarterbacks in the SWC, if not the nation. He set SWC records for completed passes (174) and yards (2,157) in one year. He capped his 1963 season with 2,157 yards and 22 TDs (which led the nation) and a 14-7 win over LSU in the Bluebonnet Bowl. A smart and alert quarterback, Trull excelled at calling plays and audibles at the line of scrimmage.
Don was selected by the Houston Oilers in the 1964 NFL Draft. He’d be groomed to be the heir apparent of the Oilers behind ageless George Blanda for the next 3 years. In 1966, Don saw action in 5 starts, posting 1200 yards and 10 TDs to just 5 picks, however he finished 0-5. He also rushed for 7 TDs on 38 carries. After 3 more games in 1967, he’d be traded to the Boston Patriots for the remainder of the season.
Trull returned to the Oilers in 1968, where he really had the best season of his career as a starter- posting a 3-1 record, with 864 yards passing, and 10 TDs and 3 interceptions.
After a down year in 1969, Don played in the Canadian Football League the next two years for the Edmonton Eskimos. Allowed to take the starting reins for the Esks, he threw for 2455 yards and 12 TDs on 364 attempts to 185 completions. After one last season in the CFL, Don was off the football grid coaching at Arkansas until he was lured back by the WFL in 1974, where he saw limited action for the Houston Texans/ Shreveport Steamer.
Don lives in Houston now where he is an ambassador for the NFL Houston Texans organization. In 2013, he was elected into the College Football Hall of Fame, and he was involved with the Houston Livestock and Rodeo Show for many years. I got Don’s card after I found out he was an ambassador for the Texans. I hoped to catch him at one of the team functions where they sign for fans, but since nothing every popped up, I just went ahead and sent this out right at the beginning of the COVID crisis.
Earl Okine is a giant of a physical specimen clocking in at 6’8″, 290. He played defensive end and tackle for the Florida Gators from 2009-2012. Over that period he managed 27 tackles and a sack. He’d go undrafted in 2013- later signing with the Houston Texans, and then briefly joining the Calgary Stampeders of the CFL. In 2014, Earl played for the Orlando Predators of the Arena leagues, where I saw him play against the San Antonio Talons that year. He notched 28 total tackles, 5.5 sacks, 3 pass blocks, and a forced fumble. Later he hopped over to the FXFL to join the Brooklyn Bolts.
Earl finally found a home in the NFL with the Colts in 2015, spending nearly the entire season on and off the Colts regular season roster and practice squad. He then spent the next year on the Kansas City Chiefs on the bubble of the roster as well at OLB. After a short stay on the Lions, he’d spend the entire 2017 season on the practice squad of the Cardinals.
He’d join the Alliance of American Football in 2018- signing with the Orlando Apollos. The Apollos decided to put Earl’s strengths to best use at outside linebacker. Earl started 7 games for the 7-1 Apollos. He finished with 26 tackles, 5 sacks, and a critical tipped ball interception that he made to seal the win against the Memphis Express in Week 8.
Samkon Gado is one of those rare athletes who wasn’t really on the radar of scouts going into his final year playing college ball. In fact he was looking forward more to becoming a doctor than playing football, but as fate would have it, nearly the entire Liberty runningback corps was depleted, and Samkon stepped in and ran for 901 yards on 138 carries, scoring 11 TDs in 9 games.
It was all about being at the right place, at the right time for Samkon, and it seemed that scouts identified his intangible talent for rising to the occasion. After going undrafted in 2005, he was signed to the Kansas City Chiefs practice squad for a brief time. A month or two later, he was signed by the Packers. Then nearly the entire runningback stable went down one by one due to injury. First Ahman Green, then Najeh Davenport, and then finally Tony Fisher.
Gado saw extensive playing time in their absence after taking the starting runningback role. He’d have 3 100 yard efforts during the season, and set a franchise rookie record rushing for 171 yards against the Lions. Ultimately he too would end his season on injured reserve.
With new management in town for 2006, the Packers traded Gado to the Houston Texans after Week 1 of the season for Vernand Morency. The Texans were shoring up their runningback depth behind Ron Dayne and Wali Lundy. During the season he’d pitch back to back 60 yard efforts against Jacksonville and Buffalo.
In 2007, Ahman Green also joined the Texans runningback committee, and was the starter above Dayne. Gado beat out Lundy to make the final squad, scoring his first TD with the Texans in the season opener against the Colts.
He’d be cut at the end of October, and signed with the Miami Dolphins, after starting RB Ronnie Brown went down. Again, backup Ricky Williams, then himself also was fallen by injury, so Samkon had to step in again. He’d help contribute to the Dolphins only win on the 2007 season.
Samkon then played for the St. Louis Rams over the next two seasons, but saw little action outside of special teams. In 2010 he signed with the Tennessee Titans but did not make the final roster.
Samkon finished his medical degree and now is a doctor at Saint Louis University Hospital as part of the Otolaryngology program.
Celebrating the game, the players, the cards, and the autographs for over 25 years.