SI Vault
A Wonderful Throwback
Rick Reilly
November 10, 1986
Gordie Lockbaum, the only 60-minute man in major-college football, is evoking another age this autumn at Holy Cross
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November 10, 1986

A Wonderful Throwback

Gordie Lockbaum, the only 60-minute man in major-college football, is evoking another age this autumn at Holy Cross

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Wouldn't it be something if, for $3, you could watch somebody prove that Joe College Athlete doesn't need to spend eight hours a day memorizing playbooks the size of Victorian novels, studying vaults of film and practicing the same play 711 times? Somebody who could play the whole game the way everybody used to, and not just half? A kid who not only played defense and offense but also returned kicks, blocked on punts, was the designated punt blocker, maintained a 3.1 grade point average and limited his hair to one color? To top it all off, wouldn't it be something if the kid's marvelous feats afield helped a school that had been through a tragedy and maybe would even help turn a young, unsure coach into a great one someday?

You got $3?

Spend it in Worcester, Mass., on an autumn Saturday and watch Holy Cross's Gordie Lockbaum, the first Division I player to go both ways since the 1960s. Against Lehigh in the opening game of the season he was the Colonial League's defensive player of the week at cornerback (two fumble recoveries, one for a touchdown, and an interception). Against Harvard two weeks later he was the Colonial League's (not to mention SI's) offensive player of the week at tailback and flanker (147 yards rushing, 83 yards catching, three touchdowns, a quick kick and a quarterback sack). Against Dartmouth he was again the league's offensive player of the week, with six touchdowns, and in a monumental upset at Army he was the planet's player of the week with 22 tackles and 113 total yards. In a 41-7 romp over Massachusetts on Saturday he rushed 12 times for 74 yards and a touchdown, caught five passes for 140 yards and two more touchdowns, returned two kickoffs for a total of 46 yards and forced a fumble as Holy Cross went 8-0 for only the second time in the school's history.

The whole thing started in spring practice last April, when offensive coordinator Tom Rossley gave the 5'11", 195-pound Lockbaum, a junior and the Crusaders' best defensive player, a last-minute, whimsical tryout at tailback. Presto! Lockbaum, first down. Gordo got the call again—and another first down. "By now," recalls head coach Mark Duffner, "the offensive coaches' eyes were as big as spaghetti plates."

The offense was moving, and Rossley called the tailback's number once again. This time he was easily brought down from behind by the cornerback. Only, Rossley noticed the tailback wasn't Lockbaum. "Where's that kid that was at tailback?" Rossley wanted to know.

"We put him back at cornerback," said a defensive coach.

Thus began civil war.

"We have to have him," said the offensive coaches.

"We have to have him," said the defensive coaches.

Duffner was in a staff sandwich. "What we need to do," he said, "is clone him." And that's just what he did. "Nobody wins," Duffner announced. "He's going both ways."

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