It was hard not to notice the table across the way at Royers Round Top Cafe last Friday night.
With one exception, the seven diners' backs were very broad and their necks only slightly less so. There were smiles all around the table as the hungry crew waited patiently for their meals at the popular cafe in the tiny town (pop. 90) best known for its art and antique shows.
Royers has built a reputation for its idiosyncratic decor and its hefty portions over the years. It must have been the latter that drew the group of UT football players to the restaurant a good 90-minute drive from Austin that evening. At the table were linemen Kyle Kriegel, Mason Walters, Trey Hopkins, Sedrick Flowers, Luke Poehlmann, Josh Cochran and wide receiver Jaxon Shipley. At least, I'm pretty sure it was them.
Their fellow diners were respectful of the players' privacy -- for a while. Then the autograph requests began, followed by the hopeful pleas for photo opportunities. The players were very good-natured throughout, accommodating all their fans of all ages, and they even managed some time to tuck away all the food the Royers staff brought to the table. Except for maybe a slice or two of the cafe's outstanding pie collection.
A single brave Aggie in the restaurant made himself known, but all the exchanges in the ancient rivalry were pleasant ones on this night.
I was most impressed by the way the young men handled themselves and the bond that exists between them and the UT football fans, even in this crossroads cafe many miles from the screaming crowds in the massive stadium. It was a very good night.