Hank Lauricella – Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame
Holy Cross High School/University of Tennessee
A star football player at Holy Cross and at the University of Tennessee, Francis Edward “Hank” Lauricella won a city championship in 1947 and a pair of national championships with the Volunteers in 1950 and 1951. He finished second in the 1951 Heisman Trophy voting and was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1981.
Holy Cross re-tooled its offense prior to Lauricell’a senior season, opting for the single-wing to ensure the ball would be in the hands of its dynamic 170-pound senior on every play. Lauricella was also given the responsibility to call the plays in the huddle. The Tigers were rewarded with the city championship as they won six games by the margin of Lauricella’s touchdown runs, including a 14-0 win over St. Aloysius’ “floating defense” when the sensational back gained 115 yards on 15 carries and figured into every point.
Hall-of-Fame coach Robert Neyland recruited Lauricella to play the same role for his Tennessee football team. And Lauricella delivered with 16 passing touchdowns and 13 rushing touchdowns in his three-year career as a single-wing tailback. As he was also a standout safety, the team’s primary punt and kick returner and the Vols’ punter (recording boots of 75 yards against Duke in 1950 and 76 yards against Alabama in 1951), he earned the nickname “Mr. Everything.”
In 1949, he threw three touchdown passes against Mississippi. The next season he had a memorable 81-yard run against Tennessee Tech, however, his 75-yard run against Texas in a Cotton Bowl victory is considered by some to be the most memorable run in Tennessee history. From the Vols’ 20-yard line, Lauricella weaved through the Longhorns’ defense and reversed field three times before finally being brought down at the Texas 5. The 75-yard run led to the Vols’ first touchdown in a 20-14 win. Lauricella finished with 131 yards on the day and was inducted into the Cotton Bowl Hall of Fame in 2005. The Vols’ 10-1 regular season mark had them recognized as the 1950 national champions by the Dunkel Index.
In 1951, he averaged 7.9 yards on every rushing play, was unanimous All-America, and finished second in voting for the Heisman Trophy as Tennessee won the national championship – though they fell to Maryland in the 1952 Sugar Bowl in his hometown.
After playing one year of professional football with the Dallas Texans in 1953, he joined the United States Army Corps of Engineers from 1953 to 1955. After a one year commitment to South Korea, he returned to New Orleans and joined the family real estate business.
He served in the Louisiana House of Representatives from 1964-1972 and the State Senate from 1972-1996.
Born October 9, 1930, in Harahan, La., Lauricella was also elected to the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame (1982), the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame (1983), the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame (2013) and the Holy Cross High School Hall of Fame (2015). He was presented with the Distinguished American Award by the Sugar Bowl Chapter of the National Football Foundation in both 1977 and 1981. He died March 22, 2014.