STEPHENVILLE —Tarleton State University’s Rodeo Hall of Fame inducted four new members — Billy Bob Brown, Kody Engle-Granado, Pat Yancey and Rex Bland —at the organization’s annual steak dinner and auction Nov. 4 at the Tarleton Rodeo Arena.
Proceeds benefit the rodeo scholarship fund. About this year’s inductees:
Billy Bob Brown
When it comes to rodeo, Billy Bob Brown is the ultimate early starter. How long has he been competing, you ask?
“Ever since I can remember,” he said. “They used to tell me I was born with a rope in my hand. I won my first dummy roping when I was 1.”
Between that childhood success and his time on the Tarleton rodeo team, he competed in junior rodeos and team roping jackpots, eventually taking the Texas State High School Rodeo title in both calf roping and team roping.
As a Tarleton freshman he qualified for the College National Finals Rodeo, finishing the season in the nation’s Top 10. Two years later, in 2013, he dominated his event, winning the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association Southwest Region crown in team roping as a header and earning a spot in the CNFR, where he won a national title in his event as well as the All-Around crown.
He and his roping partner, Logan Medlin, became back-to-back national champions in 2014, when Billy Bob was Reserve Champion in the All-Around competition. After graduating he went on to win 2014 PRCA Rookie of the Year.
Now back home at the family ranch in Carbon, he continues to rodeo and produce roping and rodeo events.
“I grew up in a rodeo family,” he said. “There’s nothing else out there like the rodeos and the friends you meet along the way. It just gets in your blood. If you’re an adrenaline junky it’s the perfect sport.”
Kody Engle-Granado was rodeoing before she turned 5, and she hopes to pass her love for the sport down to her own kids someday.
She was a two-time National High School Finals qualifier in goat tying, which earned her a spot on Tarleton’s rodeo team, where she qualified twice to the College National Finals Rodeo — as a junior in breakaway roping and barrel racing, then as a senior in breakaway roping and goat tying.
Her high school senior season, 2011, she was CNFR All Around Champion Cowgirl and CNFR National Champion Breakaway Roper. On her way to the multiple honors, she tied the Casper, Wyo., arena record in goat tying.
“The coaches were tough on me but also very supportive,” she said. ”The pushing and the motivation allowed me to come together and become successful in the real world outside of college.”
Kody graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business, an associate degree in radiology and her master’s in radiologic sciences. Now a mom to one and with another on the way, she has paused her career, although she continues part time as a CT and X-ray tech.
She never tried pro rodeo, but she doesn’t rule it out. “When I got out of college in 2011, breakaway had not become what it is now. Starting a family put that on hold, too, but who knows? Maybe when my kids get a little bigger, I can jump back into it.”
Bull rider Pat Yancey has been successful at every level.
At Tarleton he qualified for two appearances at the College National Finals Rodeo, finishing fifth in 1987 and ninth as a senior, two years later. That 1989 season saw him win eight of 17 rodeos in the highly competitive Southwest Region of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association on his way to a regional title.
As a professional he was the Texas Circuit Rookie of the Year in 1988 and a four-time Texas Circuit finalist and a qualifier to the Dodge National Circuit Finals Rodeo in 1995. He was a Professional Bull Rider world finalist and a National Finals Rodeo qualifier in 1996. All of which earned him induction into the Cowboy & Arena Champions Hall of Fame in 2021.
Today the 1990 graduate still bleeds purple as a member of the Tarleton Rodeo Chapter of the Tarleton Alumni Association.
A partner at TexCap Insurance in Dallas, he uses his rodeo achievements to help promote Sky Ranch Christian Camps at its annual fundraiser, the Cowboys and Cowboys Gala, where he and other rodeo stars partner with Dallas Cowboys players to support scholarships and summer camp opportunities for at-risk students.
The legacy of rodeo accomplishment at Tarleton makes his inclusion in the university’s Rodeo Hall of Fame quite an honor, he said.
“Because of the school and the rodeo history and the champions who have come out of Tarleton, just being associated with that group, to be recognized as one of the best who came through there, is huge.”
Rex Bland qualified for the College National Finals Rodeo three times as a steer wrestler on the Tarleton rodeo team. His career wearing the purple vest featured a National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association Southwest Region steer wrestling title and four top-20 finishes as a calf roper.
“I arrived at Tarleton in the fall of 1967 as an 18-year-old freshman,” he said. “The first two years were growing up years, even though I placed at most rodeos.” He also was part of Tarleton teams that captured second and third at the CNFR.
Rodeo success was nothing new for Rex, who hails from Abilene. At Big Lake he entered his first rodeo at the age of 12, taking top honors in goat roping and placing in steer riding.
That early taste of winning set his course for a lifetime of competition. He picked up championship buckles and saddles as a regular participant in American Junior Rodeo Association events.
His time in junior events and in college proved a springboard to three straight Professional Rodeo Cowboy National Finals Rodeo qualifications, 1971-1973. He was inducted into the Texas Rodeo Hall of Fame in 2009.
Rex and his brothers, Steve and John, are the only three-brother set in history to qualify for the NFR in three events — John as a bull rider, Steve as a tie-down roper and Rex as a steer wrestler.
“The years run together now,” Bland said, “but I had some good wins. I would love to do it all again!”