Stokley Fulton will be awfully unhappy if his HAMPDEN-SYDNEY Tigers are not Mason-Dixon champs in 1965. "This team could be one of our best ever," he says flatly and emphatically. He is probably right. Whitey Lipscomb is the best small-college quarterback in Virginia, and Jimmy Null may be the best linebacker—small or big college. Then there's Ty Tysinger; Ty tries to go all the way every time he gets the ball—and just might do it in 1965. Quarterback Eldridge Dickey, one of 25 lettermen at TENNESSEE STATE, is talented enough to pass the Tigers to the Midwestern Athletic Association title.
Florida A&M is the annual host of the Orange Blossom Classic and nobody argues about that because the Rattlers are always the team to beat among Negro colleges. This is true because A&M Coach Jake Gaither places the emphasis on speed, speed and more speed. The fact that lately he has been getting size with speed has not hurt him either although it has brought him problems—too many pro scouts cluttering up his front lawn. This is a vintage Rattler year, even without Olympic gold-medal winner Bob Hayes, Bobby Felts and Quarterback Ernie Hart, who made sprint-outs really sprint-outs and could throw as well. At Tallahassee, in the face of such losses, they merely ask "Who's next?" Who's next, for the information of pro scouts and unhappy opponents, is a stable of sophomores who can run the 100 in 10 seconds or less. The starters should be Quarterback Elroy Morand, Halfbacks Eugene Thomas and Jim Cambridge and Flanker Back Eugene Milton. The finest, fastest and biggest Rattlers up front are 257-pound Tackle David Daniels and End Arthur Robinson, a 1964 Negro All-America.
Prairie view will be tough to beat again in the Southwestern Athletic Conference, even though Quarterback Jimmy Kearney, the league's total-offense leader, and End Otis Taylor are gone. But if the Panthers are to be beaten, it will happen at GRAMBLING on October 2. Grambling lost six lettermen who signed professional contracts—but the Tigers will be as huge and fast as ever and will make Prairie View hustle plenty. Among players returning to the team this season are Henry Dyer, who was the nation's co-leader in college-division scoring.
That dust billowing from Pritchett Stadium in Huntsville, Tex., on hot autumn Saturdays is nothing to be alarmed about unless you happen to belong to the Lone Star Conference—and are not SAM HOUSTON STATE. The Bearkats of State live up to their name. Last year they called only one time out, and that was to stop the clock on a touchdown drive. There will be no letup this season, and if there is one threat to Louisiana Tech's hopes of finishing first among the country's small colleges, it is Sam Houston.
The perpetual-motion Bearkats won eight of nine regular-season games in 1964, defeated Findlay 32-21 in a playoff and then tied Concordia ( Minn.) 7-7 for the NAIA championship. Only seven men are missing from that team, and all but three of the best ones are back. Among the returnees are Tackle A.J. Veselka, End Lloyd Long and Linebackers Dave Martin and Mike Bobo. Billy Aden and Joe Ed Lynn are 215-pound halfbacks so swift they could rustle cattle on foot, and Halfback Ronnie Menn, a transfer from Texas A&M, is right with them. There is a problem. Norm Peterson, admired for his all-round abilities as a quarterback, is being pushed by a transfer from Rice, Dennis Gann, who throws so well he could wind up with the job. In the eyes of the coach, Dr. Paul Pierce, that is a dilemma.
Should the Bearkats get to squabbling among themselves, the LSC team with an outside chance to catch them is SOUTHWEST TEXAS STATE, otherwise known as the Bobcats. The night of the big confrontation is October 23 in San Marcos. The Bobcats lost a 15-14 thriller to Sam Houston last year (they finished 8-2 for the season), and new Coach Billy Miller hopes to celebrate his first year with a conference championship. He almost has the team to do it. Quarterback Jesse Perkins threw for 699 yards as a freshman, Fullback Reece Morrison averaged 11.1 yards per carry on 39 tries last year and Tailback Lewis Simmons led the team in rushing. Tackle Wilbur Aylor, at a stout 245 pounds, and 220-pound Center Lindy Lyles are two of the finest linemen in the Lone Star, and Corner Back Rich Suffel is the best. Even the kicking is superb. Jon White averaged 40 yards a punt in 1964.
Still farther on the outside, but always a threat to Sam Houston, is STEPHEN F. AUSTIN. The Lumberjacks lost their leading ground-gainer and their top pass receiver from last year's team. But they have 25 lettermen left, among them a healthy Jerry (Hawk) Clement, a 9.8 sprinter who was hurt most of 1964. A Clement for a full season makes the Lumberjack running game better than it was. Both lines are rough, big and quick, with Fred Calhoun, Lynn Graves, Bill Henderson, John Owens and Don Lorenz all among the best in the conference. Backing them at safety is Larry Minter, All-LSC last year.
But there is a fourth good team in this remarkably strong conference, and if TEXAS A&I's Javelinas can escape the injuries that plagued them in 1964 they might surprise everybody. Their chances begin, of course, with Randy Johnson, the LSC's most valuable player in 1964 and sure to make Little All-America in 1965. Johnson's impressive statistics from last season should be equally formidable this year with the return of four receivers, each of whom caught passes totaling 200 yards or more. They are L. J. Rolf, Gerry Pargmann, Terry Oglesby and Jimmy Hill. But Coach Gil Steinke still has not forgotten those injuries and sums it up: "With a good amount of luck we could have a topnotch football team."
East Texas state, expecting big things from Tailback Curtis Guyton (All-America at Wharton Junior College) and Guard Bill Plunkett, is the best of the rest.