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College Football: As the Pros See Them

7 minute read


Sportswriters voted for Notre Dame. So did college coaches—reluctantly. The folks at the National Football Foundation couldn’t seem to make up their minds at all, decided that they would award their version of the national college-football championship—and the MacArthur Bowl that goes with it—jointly to the Fighting Irish and the Spartans of Michigan State. Since there is only one MacArthur Bowl, however, that created a certain problem in logistics. Each college will keep the trophy for six months, and the flip of a coin will be used to determine which school gets it first.

Only the pros were left to be heard from. So last week, when representatives from both the National Football League and the American Football League met in Manhattan to work out details for a common draft, their scouts out in the field voted for the 22 players whom they rate as the best of this year’s collegians. The scouts turned out to be as divided in their judgments as everybody else. When the ballots were tabulated, the question of who plays the best football was still up in the air: Notre Dame and Michigan State each landed four players on TIME’S pro-picked All-America.



∙ QUARTERBACK: Steve Spurrier, 21, Florida, 6 ft. 2 in., 203 lbs. Playing for a team that one pro scout called “the worst unbeaten team in the country” when it won its first seven games this season, Heisman Trophy Winner Spurrier was practically the whole offense. He completed 61% of his passes for 2,012 yds. and 16 touchdowns, punted 45 times for a 40.8-yd. average, kicked off and booted field goals. Mainly be cause of Spurrier’s size, the pros rate him above Purdue’s Bob Griese, who is one inch shorter and 20 Ibs. lighter—but they also agree that “no college quarterback can play first string unless he gets with some club that is in last place or so.” Which is exactly where Spurrier seems to be headed—for the National Football League’s hapless New York Giants, who have won only one game while losing nine so far this year.

∙ HALFBACKS: Mel Farr, 22, U.C.L.A., 6 ft. 2 in., 212 Ibs., and Clint Jones, 21, Michigan State, 6 ft. 1 in., 201 lbs. If anybody wonders where the old-fashioned 165-lb. scatbacks went, he might take a look at all those 275-lb. defensive tackles playing football these days. “We will always sacrifice quickness for weight,” says one scout, but in the case of Farr and Jones, there is nothing to sacrifice—they both run the 100 in under 10 sec., have “the strength to break tackles” and “an eye for the goal line.” The pros are also high on Notre Dame’s Nick Eddy: “He’d be on our list,” says one, “except for the fact that he can’t be drafted.” The reason: since he missed a semester because of illness, Eddy was eligible for the draft last year, when he was still a junior, and was snapped up by the Detroit Lions and the Denver Broncos.

∙ FULLBACK: Ray McDonald, 22, Idaho, 6 ft. 5 in., 242 Ibs. A bulldozing runner with amazing speed (9.9 sec. for 100 yds.) for his size, McDonald was the leading rusher in college ball, gained 1,329 yds. in 259 plays for an average of better than 5 yds. per carry. “We thought we had a sleeper,” moans one scout, “until he scored five touchdowns in one game and got a lot of publicity.”

∙ ENDS: Gene Washington, 22, Michigan State, 6 ft. 3 in., 219 Ibs., and Jack Clancy, 22, Michigan, 6 ft. 1 in., 192 lbs. Washington, who caught five passes for 123 yds. in Michigan State’s 10-10 tie with Notre Dame, is also the Big Ten high hurdles champion and “a cinch to make it big in the pros”—either as a split end or a tight end. Clancy is too light to play anything except split end, but he caught 76 passes for 1,079 yds.—almost two-thirds of Michigan’s total passing yardage this year.

∙ TACKLES: Maurice (“Mo”) Moorman, 22, Texas A. & M., 6 ft. 5 in., 252 lbs., and Ron Vary, 20, Southern Cal, 6 ft. 6 in., 265 lbs. One scout calls Vary “the best offensive blocker in college ball in a long, long time.” While the pros see the pair as the best college tackles around, they will have to wait. Both Moorman and Yary are juniors.

∙ GUARDS: Tom Regner, 22, Notre Dame, 6 ft. 1 in., 245 Ibs., and Bob Hyland, 20, Boston College, 6 ft. 5 in., 258 Ibs. A few seasons ago, most pro teams would not consider drafting college guards, simply because they were too small. No longer. Regner, say the scouts, is “the finest guard in the country,” and Hyland was a stick-out despite the fact that he played for a team that compiled a 4-6 record against mediocre competition.

∙ CENTER: Bill Carr, 22, Florida, 6 ft. 4 in., 233 Ibs. “A pro center has to be able to pick up the blitz,” says one scout. “He has to be able to move out and block the middle linebacker, and when the guard pulls to lead an end sweep, the center has to be able to move across and take out the defensive tackle too.” Carr fits the bill, and besides, “He blocked for Spurrier for three years, so that’s an indication of what he can do.”


∙ ENDS: Charles (“Bubba”) Smith, 21, Michigan State, 6 ft. 7 in., 283 Ibs., and Alan Page, 21, Notre Dame, 6 ft. 5 in., 238 Ibs. Smith’s size alone is enough to earn him raves, but the cheers are muffled by doubts: “He is a mauler. But his trouble is that he fails to go all out all the time. Maybe for money he will—but in college he would kill you for three plays, then rest for two.” Page’s problem, if any, is just the opposite—overeagerness. “He is so quick that he’s in the enemy backfield when the ball is snapped.”

∙ TACKLES: Kevin Hardy, 21, Notre Dame, 6 ft. 5 in., 270 Ibs. and Loyd Phillips, 21, Arkansas, 6 ft. 3 in., 241 Ibs. “A stud” is the way admiring pros describe Hardy, a draft-eligible junior who not only bulwarked the Irish defense but also punted for an average of 42 yds., and is the only athlete in 20 years to letter in three sports (football, basketball, baseball) at Notre Dame. Phillips is “too light to play tackle in the pros—he’ll probably be switched to linebacker.” But his attitude is strictly professional: “Football is his whole reason for living.”

∙ LINEBACKERS: George Webster, 21, Michigan State, 6 ft. 4 in., 212 Ibs., Bob Matheson, 22, Duke, 6 ft. 3 in., 235 Ibs., and Jim Lynch, 21, Notre Dame, 6 ft. 1 in., 225 Ibs. Michigan State’s “monster man” (meaning roving linebacker), Webster, in one scout’s opinion, is “the best all-around college athlete in the country. In a pinch, he can even play defensive safety or cornerback.” Matheson is also adaptable (“He has the ability to play tight end on offense”), and Lynch is “a real leader who is always conscious of the clock and tries to tackle the ball, not just the man.”

∙ CORNERBACKS: John Charles, 22, Purdue, 6 ft. 1 in., 195 Ibs., and Henry King, 22, Utah State, 6 ft, 4 in., 213 Ibs. Injured in October, Charles probably will be back in action when Purdue meets Southern Cal in the Rose Bowl Jan. 2, and that spells trouble for U.S.C.’s pass receivers. He “oozes confidence,” has the speed to keep step with the fastest ends. King is “a big, rangy boy who fights for the ball and just loves to hit people.”

∙ SAFETY MEN: Nate Shaw, 21, Southern Cal, 6 ft. 2 in., 192 Ibs., and Rick Volk, 21, Michigan, 6 ft. 3 in., 192 Ibs. Shaw, say the scouts, is “outstanding all the time; he was outstanding even when his team lost to Notre Dame 51-0.” Volk is “a wheel horse” whose specialty is the open-field tackle—the safety’s toughest job. A miss is worth six points, but “Volk doesn’t miss.”

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