Troy’s first 1,000-yard back returns to Troy for T-Day
Published 1:47 pm Thursday, March 30, 2023
Ted Horstead was the first running back in the history of Troy University Football to eclipse 1,000 yards in a season and on April 15, the Trojan legend will return to Troy as a part of Second Annual Lunch with Legends event ahead of T-Day.
Horstead will be one of five Trojan legends to take part in the question and answer panel, which will see Horstead joined by former Troy quarterback Levi Brown, defensive lineman Steve McLendon, kicker Ted Clem and linebacker Boris Lee.
“I thought it was a great idea,” Horstead said of being asked to take part in the event at his alma mater. “It’s another way to reach fans at Troy and another way to reach potential donors. Troy is a growing university and we need people to donate and be interested and involved and engaged in the athletic programs. It seems like we have a great panel of legends that will be participating this year, so I’m excited about it and excited to be a part of it.”
Horstead grew up in Elba and was a star running back for the Elba Tigers before earning a scholarship to Troy, where he quickly became one of the most feared fullbacks in all of Division II. Horstead was a pivotal part of Troy’s 1984 Division II National Championship, the school’s first Division II Title and first national title of any kind since 1968. Horstead is proud of the legacy that he and his teammates have left at Troy.
“It’s a good thing because it means we established something that created interest in Troy Football,” Horstead said of he and his teammates being asked to do legends events. “It’s carried on through the years and the school continues to grow. People are engaged and I’m a big participant in that myself.
“I go to every home game and some road games here and there. I love being in Troy and I love being around the alumni and the fans and I love going to those football games and basketball games and baseball games. It’s good to see the growth there and experience the happiness that we provided and started all those years ago.”
Horstead was a part of a freshman class that won just two games but would also build the foundation of a national championship winning team. During that 1984 season, Horstead also became the very first running back in the history of the program to eclipse 1,000 yards rushing in a season after he tallied 1,123 yards and five touchdowns. He said that milestone wasn’t something he thought about too much as it happened but is something he’s grown to cherish since.
“At the time, I didn’t really think about it,” Horstead recalled. “I was just doing what I could to try and assist the team and win. We had a great offensive line that made it a lot easier for me.
“I’ve watched film over the years and I never once saw where our offensive line didn’t move the line of scrimmage. So, that made it so much easier for me. That first yard was given and then you just had to make the right cuts and do what you needed to do to gain more. That was the key. I didn’t think about it a lot then but over the years I thought about it being a great accomplishment. It’s definitely something I’m proud of but I had a lot of help doing it, too. It was definitely a team effort.”
As much as that personal accomplishment means to Horstead, it could never surpass the feeling of a national championship. Horstead said the relationships he built at Troy also stand out when he thinks about that time.
“My favorite memory is, of course, the national championship,” Horstead emphasized. “It’s by far the accomplishment I’m most proud of, but also being able to meet so many great people (at Troy) that I’m still friends with to this day is so special to me.
“Just hanging out on the quad and meeting people and meeting in the cafeteria was a lot of fun. That’s where you met a lot of people because that’s where everyone assembled throughout the day. The relationships that were built at Troy are really something I’ll always love.”
Horstead’s success on the gridiron began in his hometown of Elba where he and his older brother, Don Horstead, created a legacy in the backfield that is still remembered fondly to this day. While the younger Horstead went on to be a star back at Troy, Don Horstead paved the way on the field and would become a part of one of Bear Bryant’s final signing classes at Alabama.
“Me, being the younger brother, I always wanted to be able to perform half as good as Don could,” Ted recalls. “He was an outstanding athlete and he had the opportunity to go anywhere in the country he wanted to. Being able to go to school and have a career and graduate and move on to the real world was great for us and it’s good to be able to look back at the things we were able to accomplish – and the interest we were able to create for the younger athletes and students that looked up to us – and be a positive influence on the community. That’s the objective, to help the community grow and do some positive things.”
Horstead was a two-time All-Conference fullback as the centerpiece of Troy’s feared “wishbone” offense of the 1980s. Despite missing much of his senior season, due to a knee injury, he still finished his Troy career as the school’s all-time leading rusher with 2,926 yards. That record stood for 17 years before it finally fell and he still ranks third all-time at Troy in rushing. He would later go on to be inducted into the Troy Sports Hall of Fame.
As Horstead is still a regular face at Troy football games, he’s excited about the future that he sees.
“(Jon Sumrall) has done a terrific job,” Horstead said. “Any time you can go out and win 11 games in a row, in this conference and against this competition, that’s a major accomplishment. I’m proud of the job he’s done and I’m glad he’s our coach.”
Horstead and the other Trojan legends will be on hand for the Lunch with Legends event ahead of T-Day on April 15. Tickets for the event are $25 and include lunch, drinks and admission to the legends panel. Lunch with Legends begins at 11 a.m. at the Stadium Club of Veterans Memorial Stadium. Tickets for the event are still available by visiting, troytrojans.com/lunchwithlegends.