COTTON BOWL LEGEND HANK LAURICELLA DIESHank Lauricella, Tennessee’s great single-wing tailback and the star of the 1951 Cotton Bowl Classic, has passed away at the age of 83 in his home state of Louisiana.
It was 63 years ago when Lauricella found a way to place his name among the legends of the Cotton Bowl without scoring a touchdown as he sparked the fourth-ranked Volunteers to a 20-14 victory over No. 3 Texas.
The 5-11, 175 pound triple-threat tailback set up the game’s first score with an electrifying 75-yard gallop to the Texas five-yard line. What made the play so special was that Lauricella reversed his field three times and slowed only to allow his blockers to catch up to lead interference downfield. He weaved his way through Longhorn defenders while en route to the longest run in the Classic’s 15-year history.
Lauricella’s first-quarter dash proved to be an omen of good things to come for Tennessee. He rushed for 131 yards on 16 attempts and was a guiding force in what many college football observers consider as Tennessee’s greatest bowl victory. One year later, Lauricella earned All-America honors, was the runnerup to the Heisman Trophy, and played a major role in the Vols’ national championship season as a senior.
He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1981 and the AT&T Cotton Bowl Hall of Fame in 2005.
After football, Lauricella became a real estate executive in his hometown of Harahan, La., and served for 32 years in the Louisiana state legislature.
Lauricella is survived by his college sweetheart Betty, who also has a tie to the Cotton Bowl as Miss Tennessee in the 1953 Classic.