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THE SOUTHWEST
Mervin Hyman
September 18, 1961
Baylor's Ronnie Bull may not be the only authentic All-America in a section of the country where fleet backs are almost as plentiful as jack rabbits. The teams are so evenly matched it is unlikely that any one of them can finish undefeated
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September 18, 1961

The Southwest

Baylor's Ronnie Bull may not be the only authentic All-America in a section of the country where fleet backs are almost as plentiful as jack rabbits. The teams are so evenly matched it is unlikely that any one of them can finish undefeated

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1960 record: Won 5, lost 5

Sept. 16

at E. Texas State, N

(9-6)

Sept. 23

at Howard Payne, N

(6-0)

Sept. 30

Lamar Tech, N

(20-7)

Oct. 14

at Hardin-Simmons, N

(no game)

Oct. 21

at Memphis State

(6-55)

Oct. 28

at Miss. Southern, N

(8-34)

Nov. 4

at Arlington St., N

(6-29)

Nov. 11

at Fresno State, N

(19-20)

Nov. 18

Trinity U.

(34-6)

Nov. 25

McMurry

(26-0)

Even by Texas standards, Ronnie Bull, the brilliant Baylor back pictured at the left with his wife Connie, is something special. Sam Boyd, Baylor's coach when Bull was recruited, had a file on him that reached back to his 10th birthday. It looked more like an FBI dossier on a man applying for a job at Los Alamos than notes on a boy just out of high school.

In his first game as a college sophomore Bull demonstrated to everybody's satisfaction, including his own, that all that paper work was not wasted. "I was more than nervous for that game," Bull said not long ago. "I was plain anxious to find out if I could make it in college ball." Bull did more than make it in his first college game. He won it, scoring two touchdowns on runs of 74 and 10 yards as Baylor beat Colorado 15-7. By the end of the season he had gained nearly 400 more yards, scored 30 points to lead his team in scoring and traveled a few hundred more yards with passes, interceptions—he is a superior defenseman—and most of his team's punt returns.

As might be expected in a land where football has become a crusade, Ronald Bull has been idolized so much by so many that an outsider begins to wonder if Bull actually has a kind of religious vocation for football. He has, but, paradoxically, there is something a little commonplace about him. Like many other Texas players, he looks inordinately young and callow, more like the junior tenor in the choir than the All-America football player that he is.

But on the field he plays with the ribsplattering drive that one automatically associates with a Southwest Conference game. Play doesn't stop after a runner has been brought to a struggling halt in the line. If the referee's whistle hasn't blown, the war is still on all over the field. Just as in a pasture of young bulls, players seem to hurtle at one another for the pure fun of knocking each other down.

Ronnie Bull grew up in the south Texas town of Bishop (pop. 3,000), and Southwestern coaches will tell you to a man that they always prefer boys from the small towns and ranches. "This kind of boy," says the present Baylor coach, John Bridgers, "is accustomed to hard work and accepts the pain of bruised muscles and lumps without special notice. And when you talk, he listens, wide-eyed and alert."

Bull listened and let his actions on the field speak for him. He played all the major sports at Bishop, but mostly football. "My dad always encouraged me," he says. "When I was a kid, we lived in the country and Dad would race with me. He's a fine athlete and has good speed, but he never killed my spirit by running away from me. One day—I don't remember when but I remember the feeling—I beat him."

He beat everybody else, too. For four years he was a regular on Bishop High School football teams and in his senior year he was the highest-scoring player in the state. He also was a high school All-America.

A willing decoy

After Bull's marvelous sophomore year, Bridgers realized that every team in the Southwest would be out to stop him first and the rest of the team later. Accordingly, he switched his offense to make Bull a decoy, a role that Bull accepted willingly. Surprisingly, even with far fewer opportunities to run with the ball, Bull scored more points than any other conference back. On defense he was, if possible, even better, not allowing a single pass completion all season in the zone he was covering.

This year Bull will go to fullback, a position he is looking forward to playing. "What I like to do best," he says, "is run, run, run." If not this season, then next, he will have ample opportunities to run as a pro. "I wish Baltimore had him right now," the Colts' Ray Berry said not long ago. "I never saw a back cut like he does."

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