SI Vault
James Murray
September 26, 1955
UCLA Tailback Ronnie Knox, billed as the hottest thing in football by his hustling stepfather, looked the part as the Bruins defeated Texas A&M 21-0
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September 26, 1955

Three Touchdowns For Harvey

UCLA Tailback Ronnie Knox, billed as the hottest thing in football by his hustling stepfather, looked the part as the Bruins defeated Texas A&M 21-0

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What the Knox come-through poses for Bruin opponents should keep their coaching staffs up far into the night and their heads between their hands on Saturday afternoons. Unless some desperate lineman can shatter the golden arm, the enemy is confronted with an impossible tactical situation. If they deploy to stop Knox's passes, the best fullback in the country, 210-pound Bob Davenport, and the best second-string fullback in history, the 202-pound Oakland Negro, Doug Peters, can be counted on to shred the undermanned line and secondary. For the first time in Sanders' history he has a team that can either go over 'em or through 'em. It was almost an anticlimax when Knox, a short time into the second quarter, ran spiritedly as though to sweep end, then on the dead-run fired a perfect pass to End Johnny Hermann for the Bruins' first touchdown. He was to throw three touchdown passes, more than most Sanders' tailbacks throw in a season.

The passes were enough to gladden the heart of a Paul Brown—soft, easy to catch, yet so accurate as to be un-interceptable. These were the passes Ronnie learned playing catch-football with his stepfather in a Beverly Hills public park when he barely was in grammar school, the passes which so caught the eye even of the great Frank Leahy in the East-West high school game that he went out of his way to seek out Ronnie as possible Notre Dame material, confessing that "When the game started I thought Ronnie threw the hall so soft he would have many interceptions but soon saw he wouldn't."

To be sure, Texas A&M, green and overmatched, was no true test of Knox as an All-America—or even as a big-league halfback. Ronnie will get his most corrosive test—as will all the Bruins—at College Park, Maryland this week when the Terrapins, coached by Jim Tatum, still smarting at the slickering he got from Red Sanders last year, will probably try everything including mayhem to stop Ronnie's success if not his career. But if Ronnie and Red get by the Terps, only Iowa stands in the way of a great season.

One man who sees no chance for Maryland—or anyone else foolish enough to run up against Ronnie Knox—is Harvey Knox. Standing outside the dressing room (to which parents are wisely not permitted by Coach Sanders), Harvey waxed expansive as usual. "Where would that game have been without Ronnie?" he demanded after hailing a friend. "Where? I'll tell you. Right here! [And he smacked his open palms together ferociously.] Right here! [Smack!] Nuthin' to nuthin' to nuthin.' Zero. Period.

" Maryland?" exclaimed Harvey scornfully. "That Goose [sic] Tatum. Why, if Ronnie doesn't throw for five or six touchdowns, I'll disown him. I'll cream him.

"Why, my goodness?" exclaimed Harvey who was off and running. "I didn't see nuthin' I haven't seen before. What did you expect? Tell me, what did you expect? You ol' son of a gun, did you think ol' Harvey was bulling you?...I'm not taking the credit. I started the kid off but Jim Sutherland [Ronnie's high school coach] is the one who taught Ronnie how to do it. Jim Sutherland, mind what I'm telling you." And Harvey Knox stepped back, waving an imaginary football, which he sent flying out in an imaginary trajectory after shifting his eyes from right to left like a tailback faking the end and the defensive secondary.


In the dressing room, the cause of all the commotion, Ronnie, unconcernedly showered himself endlessly, remaining in the steaming room until long after almost the entire team had showered, dressed and drifted off to their homes or frat houses. "Ronnie always does that," grinned a newspaperman. "He stays in there hoping the press and all the well-wishers would disappear. It embarrasses him."

In a corner, surrounded by excited newsmen, Coach Sanders wearily put the finishing touches on the evening. What did he think of his team as a whole, he was asked. "That was about as good an opening game as any team I have ever had," he allowed sincerely. "We're very thrilled."

A reporter asked whether, during ail the spring and preseason practice, there had ever been any doubt that Knox would be UCLA'S No. 1 tailback.

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