UT Knoxville, ’53
By Jim Haslam (Knoxville ’52)
Part of the Tennessee Alumnus’ 100 Distinguished Alumni feature.
Hank Lauricella was my best friend.
We met when we were both 17 years old and freshmen at the University of Tennessee in September 1948. Until he died in 2014, never a week passed that we didn’t talk.
We both played football. We both majored in business. We both went to Korea. We stayed in constant contact all of our lives.
Hank’s legacy has three strands: First, as a great football player—a tailback on a national championship football team and runner-up for the Heisman Trophy. Second: A great career in business and public service. Third: A great family man.
At 5 feet 11 inches tall and 175 pounds, he was the prototypical tailback for Gen. Robert Neyland’s single-wing offense.
Hank was one of Tennessee’s great football players and a true triple threat. He was an outstanding passer, a great runner and a very accurate punter. His 75-yard run in the 1951 Cotton Bowl was one of the greatest Tennessee plays of all time. In addition to running, passing and kicking, back in those days, the tailback called all of the plays. He was also a punt returner and a kickoff returner. His great college football career earned him induction into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1981.
Hank Lauricella truly was “Mr. Everything” in Tennessee football.
After graduating from UT, Hank played professional football for the Dallas Texans before serving the U.S. Army as a first lieutenant from 1953 through 1955, including a one-year tour of duty in Korea. Hank then was a long-time Louisiana legislator, serving eight years as a member of the Louisiana House of Representatives and 24 years as a Louisiana state senator. At the same time, he was manager and general partner of Lauricella Land Company.
Hank was a great football player and an even better person. He was a true credit to the University of Tennessee, both as a superb athlete and an outstanding student.
Jim Haslam is founder of Pilot Corporation; a former, 24-year member of the UT Board of Trustees; and a philanthropist who has given generously to the university.