Halfback Roger Grimes of Penn State is the kind of player central casting might have dreamed up to play the All-American boy in a football film. Says Coach Rip Engle, who does not make his pay as a Hollywood agent: "He's a very down-to-earth boy—polite, studious, good character, religious, wonderful home life, small high school, good athlete—simply one heck of a fine boy." This answer to a movie coach's prayers, or Rip Engle's, for that matter, grew up within a long forward pass of Penn State, in the old iron-mining hamlet of Cornwall. ("I'm the first graduate of Cornwall ever to play big-time football," says Grimes. "Football is second to education for me, but I wanted to prove I could make it.") At Cornwall High, Grimes was the State Class-B shotput champion, the football captain and, of course, class and student council president. As a senior he gained 1,132 yards in 135 tries and scored 102 points. In last year's Big 33 game between the best Pennsylvania and Texas schoolboys, he averaged nine yards a carry and, in Penn State's only two freshman games last fall, rushed for 214 yards, caught two passes for 65 more yards and scored three touchdowns. Slightly below six feet and weighing 210 pounds, Grimes has good speed and plenty of power, as well as an ability to find a hole in the line and get through it quickly. But what makes him something special on the football field is his exceptional balance. "Roger can be knocked off stride and sent stumbling from a would-be tackier, keep his feet and on the very next step be going full speed again," says Backfield Coach Joe Paterno.
A back who may be as good as Grimes is Boston College's Brendan McCarthy, but he is more in the Frank Merriwell mold. McCarthy was a high school All-America in both football and basketball at DeMatha High in Washington, D.C. and was considered such an outstanding prospect in each sport that he received 170 scholarship offers in football and 35 for basketball. No one else really had a chance at him, though, since his father played football for BC—in the mid-'30s—and Brendan wanted a Jesuit education. A 6-foot-3 215-pounder, McCarthy was listed as BC's fourth fullback when spring training started, but by the time it was over, he was No. 1. "Brendan's biggest assets," says Boston College Coach Jim Miller, "are his size and his strength. He's very strong and he has that power step to move him away from a tackier when he's getting hit. It often takes two or three men to haul him down."
Among those who will try to bring down McCarthy and Grimes this season will be Linebacker Larry Csonka of Syracuse. Other sophs worth watching are Pittsburgh's split end, Bob Longo, Tackle Don Roberts of Army and Penn Quarterback Bill Creeden.