It is not difficult to understand why the entire state of Florida is anxious to see what sophomore Larry Smith of the University of Florida will do against Northwestern this Saturday. What is difficult is deciding whether Smith is as good right now as Tucker Frederickson, a Florida high school boy who was at Auburn two years ago. Frederickson made All-America in his senior year, and he is a star for the New York Giants now. His talents are great and proved, but appreciative people in Gainesville are saying there doesn't seem to be a thing Smith cannot do. Smith's coach, Ray Graves, wants desperately to reduce the publicity buildup—at least until after Smith's first game—but even he has to admit, "You know, Larry does have unlimited ability."
He does. The most sought-after high school athlete in the history of the state. Smith is an exceptional runner, pass receiver, punter, punt returner, kickoff returner and—you guessed it—passer. Smith, who can carry his 6-foot-4, 216-pound frame over 100 yards in 10.1 seconds, was a high school All-America at Tampa's Robinson High. While there, he averaged eight yards every time he carried the ball, amassed a total of 960 yards rushing and 21 touchdowns. In addition, he caught 42 passes for 799 more yards and eight touchdowns and passed eight times for 227 and two scores.
Predictably, college offers poured in—and then flooded in after Smith scored 465 out of a possible 495 points on Florida's Senior Placement Test. Smith narrowed his choice to Florida or Princeton, but settled on Florida because of his deep admiration for Graves—and because he plans to be a doctor or a lawyer in his home state when he has finished with football.
In his first year as a tailback with Florida's Baby Gators, Smith averaged almost five yards per carry and was easily the outstanding back in the spring game. "He simply does it all," marvels Graves. "He could play anywhere on the offensive or defensive teams, and his attitude, combined with his skills, makes him an almost sure bet to be a star." In a Florida offense that appears to have only the passing of Steve Spurrier, Smith is bound to get his chance.
Another Southeastern sophomore, Richmond Flowers Jr. of Tennessee, will not find it so easy to make the varsity, but then challenges have never frightened him (SI, March 14). Bear Bryant practically revamped his entire track program at Alabama in attempts to lure the 6-foot-1, 185-pound two-sport wonder out of Sidney Lanier High of Montgomery, Ala., but Flowers, who always seems to know where he is going, chose Knoxville, where the climate is more temperate and the track program more advanced. A resentful Alabama freshman team clobbered Flowers but the hurdler cum sprinter cum football player was not disturbed. As a wingback this spring, he gained 250 yards in 50 carries. Should Larry Smith ever falter, Richmond Jr. is ready to take over in the South.