Throughout the 1955 season Herman Hickman, himself an ex-All-America guard, has been closely watching his favorite football players, the seldom-sung heroes of the line. Largely on the basis of personal observation, he has picked those he considers outstanding—men whose names rarely make the headlines, but whose deeds most certainly help to produce them.
Today's line play is a far cry from the days when a guard was classified as "a fullback with his brains knocked out." The requirements of modern day football may be more demanding, mentally at least, for linemen than backs. This is especially true in the past few years since the demise of the offensive and defensive specialists. Offensive line play is unnatural, and only through continuous drills and incessant work on fundamentals can the proper habits be established.
Individual defensive play is more simple and natural, but team defensive play has become complicated to the nth degree. I used to have a Hickman original that went: "The ultimate in defensive line play is to attain and maintain a specified position until the ball is definitely located, then go to it with the least possible delay and make the tackle for a minimum gain." After exploding this rather verbose pronouncement, I would turn and walk away. But in essence it is the basis for all defensive line play.
Linemen of the present are for the most part larger and more agile than their counterparts of even 25 years ago. The current crop of linemen must be rated the best yet. Enough time has elapsed to weed out the specialists of the two-platoon era and develop the all-round player who can go equally well on offense or defense.
Most of the linemen I have selected have been seen in action, in practice, and have been studied in game films. These observations have been confirmed by scouts and coaches during the past week. I have not attempted to select a so-called All-America line by position. Many of these men are strangers to the preseason prognosticators (some of the best preseason prospects have since been hampered by injuries), but with November here they have stood pretty sound testing and have not been found wanting in any department of play.
Here's to the unsung boys up front:
No—here's to the men who bear the brunt!
Ron Beagle, End, Navy: Last Season Ron won about every honor extant, including the Maxwell Trophy as the season's outstanding player. With Michigan's Ron Kramer suffering from early season injuries and Army's Don Holleder shifted to quarterback, there is little doubt that he is the outstanding end in the country. He has all the requisites: great competitive spirit, excellent blocking, vicious tackling; he runs his pass patterns as diagrammed and is a tricky decoy. Beagle is a first classman, weighs around 190 pounds and is 6 feet tall.
Pat Bisceglia. Guard, Notre Dame: The backbone of the rugged and underrated Notre Dame line this season is Bisceglia. Older than most college players at 25 and not so large as linemen go these days, his play and spirited determination have been an inspiration to the entire squad. Offensively, his in-line blocking is explosive, and downfield he is always harrying the secondary. Defensively, he moves with catlike grace and has the happy facility of "being where the ball is at."