Over gin and tonic at Julie's, beer and chili-burgers at The Trojan Barrel, coke and hamburgers at The Grill—the in-places around the University of Southern California campus—you can find people who still love to talk about Morley Drury and the tribute 70,000 people gave him when he played his last game for USC in 1927. But even more—especially on sunny Saturdays in the fall—they love to recall what Morley Drury did: how he played with his broken jaw wired together and carried the ball more times (223) for more yards (1,163) in one season than any other USC man; how he captained the Trojans and ran, punted, tackled, passed and blocked as few have since. He was called The Noblest Trojan of Them All. Nobody has ever surpassed him at USC.
Morley Drury performed in an era of unrestrained prose. Wrote one journalist: "He was omnipresent, smart, powerful and positively brutal in the way he banged and whanged at Stanford's line. His defense against passes was phenomenal, his generalship above reproach." Drury was often compared with Ernie Nevers and just as often referred to as "a living legend." No matter which position he played, halfback or quarterback, Drury always called the signals, because, as his coach, Howard Jones, said: "He had that instinct." Nate Barrager, a center who blocked for Drury, recalled recently, "Morley was older than the rest of us. He was more mature, more settled and better adjusted. He was a great leader. He was superb under pressure."
Drury was born February 5, 1903 in Midland, Ontario, Canada and went to Long Beach, Calif. as a child. He worked in the shipyards to put himself through high school. He graduated from prep school at 21 and reached USC in 1925 with 10 letters in football, basketball, water polo and swimming. Besides football he won letters in hockey, basketball and water polo at USC. As a 6-foot, 185-pound sophomore, Drury led USC to an 11-2 record in 1925. The following year he had his team headed toward an unbeaten season when he injured his knee and, on crutches, watched Southern Cal fall to Stanford 13-12. He longed to play in the Rose Bowl and would have in his final year had the Trojans managed to do better than tie Stanford. That they did not was no fault of Drury's. He gained 163 yards rushing and intercepted five passes.
The Noblest Trojan played his last game in the Los Angeles Coliseum in the sunshine of a December afternoon, 1927. As the Trojans continued to punish Washington late in the third quarter, the public address announcer told the crowd, "Morley is coming off the field for the last time, folks. Give him the hand he deserves." Drury had run for 180 yards and had scored three touchdowns. The crowd rose and clapped and cheered and threw programs into the air, and Drury trotted toward the tunnel. "As I reached the track I looked up at all those people," he recalls. "I tried to wave, but my hand jerked so it wasn't much of a wave. My knees got weak even if I did feel fresh as a horse. And I bawled like a baby."
There have been brilliant Trojans since Morley Drury—Orv Mohler, Gus Shaver, Cotton Warburton, Frank Gifford and Jon Arnett—and there is a senior this year who ranks with, if not ahead of, them. He is Mike Garrett, a stocky, soft-spoken Negro halfback who needs only 248 yards to break Mohler's alltime USC career rushing record of 2,028 yards. Unlike Drury, Garrett does not pass or punt or call the plays. He just runs—like no USC man before him. "There may be better ones around," says Tommy Prothro of UCLA, "but I can't name you two real quick. His broken-play patterns are hell for a defensive man." USC's John McKay will never forget a run his halfback made against Michigan State two years ago. Garrett dipped, dodged, whirled and sidestepped some 60 yards to advance the ball 24 yards, leaving tacklers sprawled in the grass behind him. "It was incredible," said McKay. "There was no way that run could be made, yet Mike made it."
A 5-foot-9 185-pounder with a sprinter's speed, Garrett could very well have his finest year in 1965. His determination to succeed was illustrated when, after USC defeated Colorado 21-0 in 1964, Garrett rushed from lineman to lineman, apologizing for the holes he missed during the game. Quarterback Craig Fertig understood completely. "Mike's the whole player," he said. "He's all out, even when he's not carrying the ball. Why, he knocks himself out faking for you."
It is doubtful that Mike Garrett will receive a standing ovation when he leaves the field for the final time this fall—in this age of two-platoon football who will know he is out?—but he is a Trojan of the Drury mold and, like Drury, too noble to be soon forgotten.
For SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA the party was over before it began. About 30 players, their wives and girl friends had gathered at Enoch's Steak House in suburban South Gate last November 28 to celebrate the Trojans' 20-17 upset of Notre Dame and await the vote of conference officials that would send the team to the Rose Bowl. Then, about 10 p.m., a voice broke in over the radio with the news that Oregon State had been given the bid. Enoch's steak suddenly tasted like the football USC and Notre Dame had kicked around the Coliseum that day.