ESPN college football analyst Craig James will file to run as a Republican by Thursday's filing deadline in the race to replace retiring Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, according to the Dallas Morning News.
James had flirted with a run for months, but few expected him to actually get into the race.
James starred on the football field as a running back for Southern Methodist University in the early 1980's. He played for the NFL's New England Patriots for five seasons and has worked in broadcasting since retiring from football.
It's hard to view James as anything but a long shot in a race that already features three established Republican candidates -- Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert and former state Solicitor General Ted Cruz.
But James will enter the race as a well-known figure to some Texas voters thanks to his football and broadcasting careers. In college, James teamed with Eric Dickerson to lead SMU's vaunted "Pony Express" rushing attack.
Some college football fans in Texas also might associate James with the 2009 firing of former Texas Tech head coach Mike Leach. One of the factors in Leach's firing was his alleged mistreatment of James' son, who was a wide receiver for the Red Raiders at the time.