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Harold "Red" Grange - Coaxed To The Gridiron

Famous Sports StarsFootballHarold "Red" Grange Biography - All-around Athlete, Coaxed To The Gridiron, Fateful Michigan Game, Chronology, Goes Out In Style - SELECTED WRITINGS BY GRANGE:

Coaxed to the Gridiron

When Grange entered the University of Illinois in 1922, he considered participating in basketball and track, rather than football. When, on the first day of practice for the freshman team, he saw that more than 200 young men were competing for spots, he became even more reluctant to try out. His fraternity brothers convinced him to stick with the game, however, and he made the seventh team. His teammates caught a glimpse of the talent entered into their midst when Grange scored two touchdowns during a scrimmage with the varsity team, one of them a sixty-yard punt return.

By the following year Grange had made such an impression that he started at halfback for the varsity squad. He kicked off the opening game against Nebraska on October 6, 1923, by returning a punt for a touchdown from the Illinois 34-yard-line and went on to score three touchdowns and gain 208 yards in thirty-nine minutes of play. Even in this pre-television age, Grange gained national attention for his performance and went on to lead the Western Conference (now the Big Ten) in scoring and was named an All-American. His auburn hair earned him the nickname "Red."

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