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A meat judging special feature

Texas Tech has the meats.

Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

So way back when, as in almost a year ago, we sent a written interview out to a few meat judging folks. Colton Cambell (@WreckEmColt) sent us back an extremely detailed response that I did not quite know what to do with. I debated having him on the podcast and just releasing this for so long it fell by the way side. BUT now, I have finally decided to let you all read his responses, and get a good look at the meat judging program.

What year did you compete for Tech?

I judged on the 2013 team. Our team was the first to complete a three peat in national championships. To this day, even though we’re all scattered across the country living our own lives and don’t see each other much anymore, I love my teammates and would do anything thing in the world for all 20 of them. At that time we were the largest meat judging team to be assembled. We all went through ups and downs as a team, but in the end, we all made each other better judges and better people. This is a team competition and it takes the whole team to be successful. I was blessed to be on the team I was and I want to thank every single one of them for the memories we made together.

Walk us through a regular practice, what were the hours like and how do you get better?

The meat judging team practices and works countless hours. Every Saturday during judging season we would have what we call “Super Saturday” practices. Super Saturdays began at 4 AM sharp and varied in length depending on how much product there was in the meat lab for our coaches to set up classes. We would judge every class we could and write reasons for every class. Our coaches would grade our reasons and give us scores to gauge where we were in performance. Most Saturday practices would last into the early afternoon but I do remember one practice we weren’t performing well and that one lasted most of the day. The week before a contest we would travel to Friona every day to the beef plant and spend all day grading beef carcasses and judging beef classes. A lot of those days we would walk into the beef plant before the sun came up and would walk out when the sun was already down. We traveled thousands of miles in 15 passenger vans and got to practice and compete in some of the largest beef plants in the nation.

What makes Tech so dominant in this competition?

In my opinion, there are several reasons Texas Tech is so dominant in meat judging. These aren’t in any particular order, but first is support for the program. Just like donors for athletics, there are donors to this program and that gives Tech the ability to provide a lot of product for us to practice on and state of the art facilities to practice in. One of the keys to success is to see as many things as possible in practice that could show up in a contest. If we saw it in practice we were expected to get it right in the contest. The next reason is Dr. Mark Miller. Dr. Miller has been coaching the meat judging team for a long time and he has graduate students that help him coach every team. I have never met a person who has the ability to bring out the potential in a group of people like Doc does. He believes in what he does and he put us in positions to succeed not only in meat judging but in all facets of life. That man is an influential figure in our lives even today. Like Nick Saban or Dabo Swinney in college football, Dr. Miller has developed a formula for a dynasty of success in college meat judging.

When did you start competing and what got you interested in the competition?

I started competing in meat judging my senior year for my high school FFA chapter. Meat judging isn’t usually something you can start in one year and be good at, since there are so many parts of the contest. I started and fell in love with it and I decided I wanted to go to Texas Tech to judge for the best program in the nation. I was blessed with the opportunity to do just that.

What’s your advice to any young kid out there who wants to have a shot at playing for the best program in the competition’s history?

I would tell anybody who wants to pursue meat judging at the collegiate level first of all, go to Texas Tech. There isn’t a program in the nation where you will receive more support or be put in a better position to succeed than at Tech. Also, be willing to step out of your comfort zone and be prepared to work the hardest you ever have in your life. If you are willing to do that, you will be rewarded with the best friends you will ever have, the chance to travel and visit places you may never get to again, and you will have the chance at winning a national championship.