Ara consoles himself. "Well, they're great kids. They're handling it real good. That's the thing—they're such great kids. But, geez, the stuff going on. Everybody wants 'em to pose for a magazine cover, everybody wants a private interview. I'm tripping over television cable right here on my own practice field!
"Hey," Ara continues. "That goofy Klosterman called the other day. [Don Klosterman, general manager of the Oilers]. He wanted to know if Roger couldn't rig up a morals charge on Seymour so he could sign him."
"A lot of the pros think Seymour could start for them right now."
Ara says, "Well, he's a good one, all right. We knew he was good. We knew Hanratty was good, too. But we were afraid to think how good. I'll tell you, I still don't know how good they are. Hanratty doesn't throw a perfect ball, by any means. He's strong, as you've seen. But he throws a hard, tight spiral, a heavier ball than most passers. It's a ball that most receivers think is hard to catch. He has a tendency to throw too low. We're working hard on him to come up here with it. The best thing he has is strength and accuracy on the long ones. You can teach a kid to throw short, as they say. But you can't teach him to throw long if he hasn't got the arm."
Ara goes on, "You can stop that, though. You don't have to let us hit the long one. In football you can stop anything you want to stop, but you have to give up something else. North Carolina wanted to stop Seymour. They doubled and tripled him. So we ran. Eddy and Conjar saw it open up for them. The one time North Carolina singled Jimmy, we had the right play called. And that's when Terry hit him for 56 yards."
So far it has all worked beautifully. Hanratty has completed 51 passes for 972 yards and five touchdowns, and Seymour has caught 34 of them for 675 yards and five touchdowns, and when the defenses have chosen to concentrate on The Baby Bombers the running game has knifed out 1,229 yards. Even when the two sophomores haven't been trying to connect, their mere presence has worried their opponents into shock.
Who are they, anyway, these two teenagers who have pumped so much unexpected drama and excitement into the 1966 collegiate season? Basically, they are just a couple of kids who have nothing more startling to reveal in their characters than politeness and wonderment, and nothing more dome-shaking to say than, "No, sir, I sure didn't expect anything like this to happen."
The receiving end of this pass-and-catch sensation, Jim Seymour, comes from Berkley, Mich. There are enough Seymours to choose up for a game of backyard touch—four brothers and one sister besides Jim, one of whom, John, played halfback at Army for three years. Fortunately, the father, Bart, is well off, the vice-president of a company called Imperial Metallic Lubricants, Inc., a Detroit firm that sells oil products to industry. Bart appears to have sold a lot. The Seymour home is large, elegantly furnished and has a swimming pool.
Jim Seymour is so impressive an athlete that simply stating what he is and what he can do comes out almost like lies. Take the size and speed. He is 6 feet 4 and weighs 208 pounds and can run the hurdles. Now, really. Then you put him at his position, end, and you give him an acrobat's moves and leg spring and, quite frankly, the damndest pair of hands any pro scout has ever seen on a sophomore, and what you wind up with is instant touchdown, the perfect receiver for Hanratty.
Seymour has proved that he can run all the patterns Ara can chart, and that he is exceptionally dangerous on the long ones, where his smooth, powerful speed leaves a defensive man alone and embarrassed. But then, while he's in open throttle, looking like a 440 man on the backstretch, here comes the ball from Hanratty, and Jim simply sort of brings it in—a man taking a can of peas off a shelf. He has done it at least once against every team he has met, and twice or three times against most. In the Purdue game alone he pulled down 13 for 276 yards and three touchdowns.