FORMER SUBWAY ALUMNI LEADER REFLECTS ON HIS "NOTRE DAME ODYSSEY"


Herb Juliano
(1922-1998)

Herb's Archive will feature Paul Hornung's news release, published by Charles Callahan, ND's Sports Information Director at the time.

Longtime Irish trainer Gene Paszkiet gives Paul a checkup midway through the 1955 season.

 

Herb's Archive will feature Paul Hornung's news release, published by Charles Callahan, ND's Sports Information Director at the time.

Paul Hornung, Notre Dame's deadly efficient All-American quarterback, has taken his place as a worthy successor to the great Notre Dame field generals of past years. During the 1955 and 1956 seasons, Hornung was a consensus all-american choice, and if the records are any criteria, he was the most valuable player on both the 1955 and 1956 Notre Dame squads.

This season, (1956) while playing for the "losingest" Notre Dame team in history, Hornung received the Heisman Trophy, given annually by the Downtown Athletic Club or New York to the outstanding college football player. He became the fifth Notre Dame player chosen, following Angelo Bertelli in 1943, John Lujack in 1947, Leon Hart in 1949 and John Lattner in 1953.

He also received the Walter Camp Memorial Trophy, given by the Washington (D.C.) Touchdown Club to the outstanding college back of the year; was the bonus choice in the National Football League draft by the Green Bay Packers; was named the outstanding back in the Hula Bowl; and finished second in the nation in total offense.

Since the fourth game of the season, when he made a touchdown-saving tackle, he was bothered by a dislocated left thumb. And in the last three games, he also had a dislocated right thumb. Still, he scored all 21 point's in Notre Damels 21-14 win over North Carolina, directing the team 63 yards in the final quarter for the last touchdown. In the season's finale against Southern Cal, he had one of his greatest days as the Irish lost, 28-20. Playing at left half because of the condition of his thumbs which would not allow him to handle the ball at quarterback, he returned a kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown and kept the Irish in the game all the way.

Hornung received acclaim as the most versatile back in the country. He played at three different backfield positions, led Notre Dame in eight statistical categories and in addition to his national second place finish in total offense, he was second in the country in kickoff returns, 15th in passing and 16th in scoring.

He led the team in rushing, passing, scoring, kickoffs returned, punts returned, punting, playing time and passes broken up, and was second in tackles made and pass interceptions. The only department in which he did not place among the leaders was pass receiving, and that would have been next to impossible since he was the team leader in passing. In the final game of the season with Southern Cal, however, he played at left halfback and did catch three passes, good for 26 yards.

He carried the ball 94 times for 420 yards and completed 59 of 111 passes for 917 yards, three touchdowns and a completion percentage of .532. This gave him a total of 1,337 yards on the ground and in the air. He scored 56 points on seven touchdowns and 14 conversions. He accounted for more than half the Irish scores with his seven tallies and three touchdown passes.

Paul also averaged 50 minutes a game playing time, including 30 minutes as a fullback and 48 minutes as a right halfback. He returned 16 kickoffs for 496 yards and one touchdown, punted 33 times for an average of 37.6 yards, returned four punts 63 yards, broke up seven passes, made 55 tackles, and returned two interceptions 59 yards.

Hornung stands 6-2, weighs 205 pounds and is enrolled in the College of Commerce at Notre Dame. As a high school athlete at Flaget in Louisville, Paul was voted the outstanding high school football player in Kentucky in 1952 and was elected to both the all-state football and basketball teams. In high school, he set a tournament record in basketball in the Louisville Invitational by scoring 32 points in a game. As a sophomore at Notre Dame he won his basketball monogram, appearing in ten games and scoring 61 points. He is the son of Mrs. Loretto Hornung.

Because of his curly-blonde hair, Paul receives much kidding about his good looks. When he came out of the Purdue game last year with a bloody nose and sort of messed up generally, one of his teammates greeted him with the sympathetic statement: "You'll never get to Hollywood now." His teammates also kid him as being "the best looking player to ever play for Notre Dame," and one of them often introduced him in this manner at the Friday night football rallies in the old gym. The good-natured kidding on his looks goes on all the time.

While he was still a freshman at Notre Dame, Paul competed in the annual spring Varsity-Old Timers game and threw for three touchdowns as he led the Varsity to a 49- 26 victory. Hornung thus began his sophmore season, 1954, as a very promising quarterback candidate, but with all-american Ralph Guglielmi holding forth at this position, Hornung was switched to fullback in order that he might acquire some game experience. He performed extremely well as a replacement for Don Schaefer and finished fourth on the 1954 squad in individual rushing with 159 yards in 23 carries, an average of 6.9.

During the 1955 season, Hornung returned to his quarterback post with incredible ease. In his junior and senior years, he was a powerful runner from the quarterback spot, turning the quarterback sneak into a perennial scoring threat. His passing continually improved, and when there was a clutch pass to be completed, Hornung more than likely completed it. His play calling was above reproach and his ruggdd frame enabled him to be a steady, sometime brilliant defensive back.

By actual count, he came through in the clutch in 36 key third or fourth down situations his junior year, and 31 his senior year. This takes into account the number of times on third or fourth down he ran or passed for a first down or touchdown.

In 1955, he was the fourth ranking total offense leader in the nation; led the Notre Dame squad in four statistical categories, and was runner-up in three others. He led the Irish in passing, pass interceptions, scoring and punting, and captured second place in kickoff returns, fumbles recovered and rushing.

He completed 46 of 103 passes for 743 yards and nine touchdowns; intercepted five passes for 59 yards; scored six touchdovms, five extra points and two field goals for 47 points; punted 30 times for a 33.9 average; returned six kickoffs 109 yards; recovered two fumbles; carried the ball 92 times for 472 yards, a 5.1 average. Incidentally, one of his field goals was a 38-yard boot, against SMU, and the longest for an Irish athlete since post war days.

In the final game of the 1955 season with Southern Cal, Paul passed and ran for 345 yards, the single game collegiate high of the season, although Notre Dame lost the game 42-20. Throughout the season he was responsible for 1,215 yards on 195 plays and also responsible for half the Notre Dame touchdowns by throwing nine touchdown passes and scoring six times himself.

Hornung's performance in the 1955 Iowa contest was sufficient in itself to earn him a niche in football's Hall of Fame. The Irish were trailing 14-7 with ten minutes remaining when Hornung caught fire. He returned the Iowa kickoff 23 yards to the ND 38. Then he completed three of four passes, the last a 40 yard heave to Jim Morse for the touchdown. He then booted the placement to tie the score. With five minutes remaining, the Irish regained possession of the ball. Hornung again threw to Morse, this time for 35 yards and the Irish were on the Hawkeye 9. Three plays and a fifteen yard penalty later, Hornung calmly booted a fourth down field goal from the 26 to give Notre Dame a 17-14 victory.

To read previous installments of Herb's archive please click below:

1998 1999 2000 2001
September 1998
October 1998
November 1998
January 1999
March 1999
May 1999
July 1999
August 1999
October 1999
December 1999
January 2000
February 2000

March 2000

April 2000
May 2000
June 2000
July 2000
August 2000
September 2000
October 2000
November 2000
December 2000
January 2001
February 2001
March 2001
April 2001
May 2001

June 2001
July 2001
August 2001
September 2001

Back to Irish Reveries