Iowa was losing to Michigan State 15-14 in the closing moments of the game three weeks ago when an Iowa fullback picked off a State fumble in midair and ran 67 yards for a touchdown and victory. The fullback was Joe Williams, a sophomore. Two weeks ago, against Wisconsin, Iowa was tied 21-21 with less than a minute to play. Then a halfback made a sprawling catch of a forward pass over the goal line to score the winning touchdown. The halfback was Sammie Harris, another sophomore.
Last week, with Iowa leading Purdue 7-0, Purdue moved deep into Iowa territory. Purdue's Bernie Allen tried to pass, was hit and fumbled. Iowa's center caught the ball in the air and ran 84 yards for a touchdown. Iowa won the game 21-14. The center who scored the touchdown was Dayton Perry, still another sophomore.
Iowa's heroic sophomores are by no means isolated cases. This season, more than ever before, it seems, sophomores are playing important roles in Saturday's results—Charlie Mitchell of Washington, for example, Bert Coan of Kansas, Bobby Dodd Jr. of Florida.
"The whole country seems to have come up with good sophomores," says Michigan Coach Bump Elliott. "I think one reason for it is the excellence of high school coaching today. But another is the trend toward larger squads. Coaches use more players nowadays, and that gives the sophomores more opportunity to play. The liberal substituting rules help, too. We can run a lot of kids into a game and get them out again fast if things go wrong."
Elliott himself has two good sophomores on whom he has depended heavily this season: Halfback Dave Raimey and Quarterback Dave Glinka. Both boys selected Michigan as their college with almost professional care. Raimey comes from Ohio, but he would have no part of Ohio State. "That pound and crush stuff Mr. [Woody] Hayes teaches isn't for me," he said. "I want to get out where I can run. I love to run." The first time Raimey got the ball this season he ran—25 yards for a touchdown.
Glinka is the first sophomore to quarterback a Michigan team in over 20 years. "I looked the situation over at other places," he said, "and I decided this is where they'd have use for a sophomore quarterback. The other places were set with juniors and seniors. I just didn't want to wait."
Texas Christian has a sophomore quarterback, too, probably the largest quarterback in the country. He is Sonny Gibbs, a 6-foot 7-inch, 230-pound Texan who wears contact lenses. "I was so nervous before my first game I couldn't put the lenses in," he said. "But once I got in there I forgot about the crowd and just played." He is being called the best TCU passer since Sammy Baugh.
Charlie Mitchell of Washington is another sophomore who was nervous before his first game. The second time he got the ball he ran 17 yards, brushing off two tacklers, only to trip and fall flat on his face two yards short of the goal. "I was real nervous," he said afterward. "I just tripped over a blade of grass." Mitchell hasn't tripped since. Against Idaho he ran back a kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown. Against Stanford he took a punt and went 59 yards for another touchdown.
Terry Baker of Oregon State was wanted by dozens of colleges, for basketball and baseball as well as football. As a matter of fact, Baker as a freshman decided to give up football and concentrate on the other two sports. This year, happily for Oregon State, Baker changed his mind and went back to football. Playing tailback in State's single-wing attack, last week against Washington, Baker passed for 215 yards (he's a right-handed pitcher in baseball but in football he passes left-handed) and ran for 87 more, including two touchdowns. That set a new school record for total yardage in one game and put Baker second in the nation in total offense.
When Ron Miller of Wisconsin went out for football, he was out with the scrubs. In the second scrimmage he led a team of substitutes to a 39-6 victory over the regulars. Since then he has been the starting quarterback. He passed for 203 yards against Purdue, setting a school record against Big Ten competition. Miller is now third in the nation in total offense, just behind Baker. His roommates consider Miller's greatest asset his mother, who cooks and sends him delicious Bohemian food.
There are plenty of good sophomore linemen around, too, although, like most linemen, they have not made the big headlines. Mississippi has a 238-pound sophomore tackle named Jim Dunaway, a quiet, diligent Baptist with a devout appetite. Dunaway's high school coach tells of the morning the two of them were driving to a game. Not long after breakfast, they stopped for coffee. As they were leaving, Dunaway asked the waitress for some pie. She started to get him a slice, and he said no, he meant the whole pie and he'd take it with him. A short mile and a half up the road the coach heard the empty aluminum piepan hit the highway.
Michigan State, too, has a boy who likes to eat. In prep school Dave Behrman weighed 285 pounds, but in college he was put on a diet. He now weighs a feathery 247. "He looks like a starved giant," says MSU Coach Duffy Daugherty. "I knew he could be our finest defensive lineman, and he hasn't let us down." Behrman displayed his awesome strength at the Pan American wrestling trials last summer, when he was just out of high school. Matched against an older, more experienced opponent, Behrman wrestled on even terms for seven minutes, then shocked the gallery by standing suddenly, lifting his opponent and slamming him to the mat.
There are many other fine sophomores around the land. Bobby Dodd Jr. of Florida was instrumental in beating Georgia Tech, where his father is head coach. Kansas' Bert Coan, a high school sprint champion, is tied for second in Big Eight scoring. An 18-year-old lineman from Ohio named Dave Meggysey has been one of the big reasons why Syracuse, otherwise disappointing, has been so rugged on defense.
These and the dozens of other top sophomores can look forward to two seasons more of college football glory, but they should lend an ear to the cautionary advice of Texas Christian Coach Abe Martin: "One of the big things coaches must watch for these days is the older player getting complacent, particularly if he's done well. He gets a little tired of college football. He's thinking about the pro offers and he wants to get married and all sorts of things. He still plays good ball, of course, because he has pride. But sometimes he won't give you the enthusiasm he would have a year earlier—that extra step or powder in a block."
In short, this year's sophomores must remember that they won their jobs because older players weren't good enough. Next year and the year after they'll be the older players, and there'll be new crops of sophomores eager to make the starting team.