24 Jan

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Four Longhorns to play in NFL Pro Bowl

Justin Tucker, now in his second season with the Baltimore Ravens, played at Texas from 2007-2011.

Justin Tucker, now in his second season with the Baltimore Ravens, played at Texas from 2007-2011.

Four former Longhorns will play in the 2014 NFL Pro Bowl Sunday (6:30 p.m. Central/NBC) in Honolulu. RB Jamaal Charles (Kansas City Chiefs), PK Justin Tucker (Baltimore Ravens), DL Brian Orakpo (Washington Redskins) and LB Derrick Johnson (Kansas City Chiefs) will participate in the annual all-star game, which for the first time features drafted players, not an AFC team vs. the NFC.

Earl Thomas (Seattle Seahawks) was also selected, but will not play as he will be preparing for Super Bowl XLVIII.

In the first Pro Bowl Draft, Charles, Orakpo and Tucker were selected by Deion Sanders. Johnson will replace injured San Francisco 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman and play for Jerry Rice's team.

This is the third time in four years that Charles has been selected to play in the Pro Bowl and he is one of the captains of Team Sanders. He finished the 2013 season with 262 carries for 1,305 rushing yards. He finished the regular season tied for an NFL-best 12 rushing touchdowns. The 27-year-old also had 70 receptions for 693 receiving yards and seven touchdowns.

Tucker will be making his first Pro Bowl appearance. He connected 35 of 38 field goals this season, including a career-long 61-yarder against the Detroit Lions in Week 15. He has also made 26 of 26 extra points.

This is Johnson's third straight Pro Bowl. The veteran had 107 tackles, including 4.5 sacks, and two interceptions in 2013.

Orakpo is making his third Pro Bowl appearance. He was originally named an alternate, but will take the place of San Francisco's Ahmad Brooks, who withdrew from the game. Orakpo recorded 60 tackles, including 10 sacks, and an interception this season.

So far this season, Thomas has 122 tackles and five interceptions, along with two forced fumbles. The safety is a key part of Seattle's stellar defense which will be preparing to face Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl. The Broncos defense features former Longhorns Michael Huff and Quentin Jammer.

Texas has had at least one player selected to the Pro Bowl for 13 consecutive years, and at least three in seven of the past nine years. The Longhorns had a school-record five players selected last season – Charles, Johnson, Thomas, place-kicker Phil Dawson (current 49er but then playing for the Cleveland Browns) and Chicago Bears defensive tackle Henry Melton.

Longhorn in the Pro Bowl Notes
• The Longhorns have had 41 different Pro Bowlers representing 23 teams who have made a total of 99 appearances.

• Earl Campbell, Casey Hampton, Bobby Layne, Bud McFadin and Tommy Nobis have the most all-time appearances with five each, while Bobby Dillon, Doug English, Jerry Gray, George Sauer and Harley Sewell each had four appearances.

• The Longhorns have had a Pro Bowl player the last 13 seasons, the longest consecutive streak in school history. They have also had two separate streaks of nine years with a Pro Bowl player.  The first was from 1952-60 and the second from 1967-75. UT also has had streaks of six years (1979-84), five years (1986-90), three years (1962-64) and two years (1993-94/'99-2000).

• The first Longhorn player to reach the Pro Bowl was center Bill Hughes of the Chicago Bears in 1942.

• Since 1952, there have been only 11 years in which a former Longhorn was not selected to the Pro Bowl (1961, '65, '66, '76, '78, '85, '91, '92, '96, '98, 2001).

• The Longhorns had a record five players in the 2013 Pro Bowl. They had four players in the Pro Bowl three times (1957, '68, '10).  Three players have represented UT eight times (1956, '82, '84, '87, '06, '07, '09, '11) and two former Horns have been selected 13 times (1958, '59, '63, '67, '69, '73, '74, '79, '80, '88, 2003, '04, '12).

Part-time journalist turned full-time blogger, Brian is an online staff writer at Horns Illustrated and serves as senior staff writer for digital marketing agency Speak Social. Brian currently resides in Austin and you can read his blog at the following address: briankendall.wordpress.com