It started slowly, because freshman games in the Ivy League are viewed with as much indifference as the well-organized cheer. First came the furtive whispers. "He's everything that Albie Booth was," said one graduate, looking nervously over his shoulder. "Reminds you of Larry Kelly, doesn't he?" said another in hushed conspiratorial tones.
By the time the Eli freshmen had played—and won—three games, curious alumni, students, a professor or two and any number of people who just admire good football players wherever they may fall, were coming to see Brian John Dowling run, pass, kick, intercept passes and tie his shoelaces. And by the time the last three games were played—and won—the varsity coaching staff was busy scribbling diagrams with an emphatic red circle around the quarterback.
It was that kind of season for Dowling. When the big, tough yard was needed, Quarterback Dowling simply called on Quarterback Dowling to get it. He usually did, plus seven more. But plunging was the least of the talents of the cool young fellow from Cleveland. Passing was more to the point. Dowling threw 11 touchdown passes and six of those came against Harvard and Princeton. Nor could anyone take great comfort when he went back to punt. In one game last fall, with fourth down and 11 yards to go on his own 28, Dowling managed to give every indication that all he had on his mind was putting foot to ball. So what happened? Dowling tore off 20 yards for what appeared to be a first down. It wasn't. Yale was offside. When Harry Jacunski regained enough of his composure to ask his prodigy why in the world he had run in the first place, Dowling answered, "Saw something in the defense, Coach." Jacunski sent him back on the field to punt, really punt. So he ran again, this time for 35 yards. "Saw the same thing, Coach," said Dowling.
Before anyone had a chance to recover from his football exploits, Dowling reported to the Yale freshman basketball team and casually scored 343 points, which averages out to 24.5 a game. With nothing to do in the spring, he went out for tennis, won his first two matches, then gave it up because his game was "not too good." He reported forthwith to the baseball team and drove in the winning run in his first game.
Ask any new coach what he wants most and there is a high probability he will vote for a stout lad who can run like a fullback, weighs in at about 240 and is inclined to be mean. That is exactly what Joe Paterno has in Mike Reid, middle guard at Penn State and Dowling's chief rival for sophomore honors.
Another who could be as good is a 6-foot 5-inch end with the ability to catch anything he can reach and then run away from defenders. Gary Steele, the first Negro to play varsity football at West Point, is what Tom Cahill got in his first season at Army, and if Cahill can find someone to get the ball to Steele, look out, Navy. Not that the Midshipmen are without their own bundle of destruction. Tom McKeon, a 6-foot-4, 230-pounder, will be right in the middle of things at defensive tackle.