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Duffy Daugherty, Michigan State University's football coach and raconteur, was telling football writers the other day about how he was sitting in his office reflecting on MSU's last-place finish last year in the Big Ten when:
"In walks this young recruit who's so big he had to stoop and turn sideways to make it through the door. He weighs 240 and stands 6 feet 6. 'Son,' I said, sizing him up, I suppose you're an end or a tackle.' 'No coach,' he answered. 'Matter of fact I'm a quarterback.'
"Then he tells me he can run the 100 in 9.7, that he threw 11 touchdown passes and scored 12 himself last year, that he set a state basketball scoring record and was valedictorian of his class. By now I'm almost crazy with anxiety. 'Son, you must be the greatest thing ever to hit sports,' I said. 'You run, you pass, you're big and a good student. Tell me. Isn't there anything wrong with you...just one little flaw?' The kid blushed a little and answered, 'Yes, there is, coach. I'm inclined to lie a little.' "
Well now, it wasn't more than a couple of days later that Duffy was bending the ear of the football writers again, this time extolling a huge MSU freshman tackle named Jim Bobbitt as "the greatest college lineman anywhere today." The newsmen exchanged weary looks of here-we-go-again and waited for the tag line. But for once Duffy was dead serious. His new boy was for real.
"This Bobbitt," said Duffy, "has just finished three years of service ball. He is 5 feet 9 and weighs 240 and he can handle any two men you put on him. He could make any pro squad right now. I tell you, he's the greatest."
Duffy met Bobbitt last year while conducting a coaching clinic at Berchtesgaden, Germany for the Air Force. Big Jim had just been named for the second year to the All-Air Force team in Europe, and a look at some Bobbitt film clips was all the MSU coach needed. "I told him to place his career in my hands, and he did," recalls Duffy.
Bobbitt is pleased he accepted the offer. "I'm at MSU for football and an education," he said recently. "I like this place. I fell in love with it last spring. The flowers and everything were real nice."
Last week the MSU varsity got its first look at this football Ferdinand in a scrimmage. "He's like a mountain out there," said one reserve end. "This is a freshman?" asked a varsity back. "I think the Army sent a tank and kept Bobbitt."
Freshman Bobbitt is still in need of discipline and training, and his coaches are not about to follow Duffy Daugherty out on his All-America-prediction limb just yet. But they also are not writing off his high praise of Bobbitt as another Duffy Daugherty gag.
This boy is no joke.