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The Rebirth of a Legend
Dan Jenkins
September 20, 2006
JUST THREE SEASONS INTO HIS 11-YEAR TENURE IN SOUTH BEND, COACH ARA PARSEGHIAN HAD NOTRE DAME'S LOYAL SONS AND DAUGHTERS FILLED WITH FIGHTING IRISH PRIDE AGAIN
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September 20, 2006

The Rebirth Of A Legend

JUST THREE SEASONS INTO HIS 11-YEAR TENURE IN SOUTH BEND, COACH ARA PARSEGHIAN HAD NOTRE DAME'S LOYAL SONS AND DAUGHTERS FILLED WITH FIGHTING IRISH PRIDE AGAIN

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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.

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 6'4" and weighs 208 pounds and can run the hurdles. Then you put him at his position, end, and you give him an acrobat's moves and leg spring and, quite frankly, the damnedest 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 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.

The pro scouts are the best judges, and Seymour already has driven many of them out of their usual nonchalance, not to mention their rented cars.

"I'll tell you what," one of them says. "There has never been a kid at his position who has his size, his speed, his moves, his hands and his attitude. He's got to be the most unreal thing that's ever come along. I can't think of a pro club he couldn't start for right now. The only guy who remotely resembles him in the pros is Boyd Dowler. And he's pretty good, isn't he? You know what? I'd take Seymour."

At such praise, the Notre Dame split end is mystified and aghast, although I must tell you that he can wrap a neat four-in-hand knot in his tie, centered, without the aid of a mirror. He has also taught himself to play the guitar and cook almost any dish he wants to eat. There are a lot of people who might rank these talents up there with catching touchdown passes.

"I've dropped too many for everyone to get so excited," Jim says, smiling easily. He is handsome and personable in a Roger Staubach kind of way--scrubbed, wide grin, white teeth, neatly dressed. "There are a lot of things I've got to learn. I haven't even begun to see any variety of defenses yet. And I think I have trouble catching the low passes. I'm working on that."

Seymour also has an uncanny ability to take the ball away from people, which, incidentally, is how he got hurt in the Oklahoma game. He went up between three defenders and came down with a sprain. The only serious wound he ever suffered before this was a cleated eye in high school. "That was kind of bad," he says, neglecting to mention that when it happened, during the opening game of his senior season, he left the field, had 10 stitches taken and came back--one-eyed--to lead his team to victory.

Seymour's partner, Terry Hanratty, comes from an entirely different background than Seymour--a separated family in Butler, Pa. His mother has not yet seen him play, except against Purdue on television, but it is not because she always hoped that he would become a baseball player. "I pushed him in sports all my life," she says. "I wanted him to play baseball, but I always told him, If you want something out of life, you can get it through sports."

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