Francis “Hank” Lauricella was widely known as Mr. Everything during one of the most prominent stretches in University of Tennessee Football history. By his 1950 sophomore campaign, Lauricella called all the plays as the tailback and also played safety.
A native of Harahan in Jefferson Parrish, Louisiana, Lauricella lettered in football, baseball, basketball, and track at Holy Cross High School in New Orleans. His football team won the city championship in 1947, and he was named All-City and All-State Halfback. His team utilized the single-wing offense, which led him to Tennessee as General Robert Neyland was one of the few college coaches who continued to use the single-wing attack.
In the 1951 Cotton Bowl against Texas, Lauricella provided one of the most memorable runs in school history. From the Volunteers’ 20 yard line, Lauricella knifed his way through the Longhorns defense and reversed field three times to allow for blocking help before finally being brought down at the Texas 5. The 75-yard run led Tennessee to their first touchdown in a 20-14 win, an undefeated season, and the National Championship. Lauricella was named All-SEC and All-America, averaging 7.9 yards per carry.
In his three year career, Lauricella helped Tennessee to a 28-4-1 record, ran for 13 touchdowns, passed for 16 touchdowns, and led the team in passing, rushing, total offense, and punting during his junior and senior years. After graduating with a degree in Business Administration, Lauricella played in the NFL with the Dallas Texans in 1952, before serving two years in the U.S. Army.
When he returned from Korea, Lauricella became General Partner and Manager of the Lauricella Land Company, a family real-estate operations and home builder in New Orleans, a role he continues to serve today. In 1964, Lauricella was elected to the Louisiana House of Representatives, where he served two terms before moving to the Louisiana Senate. He served six terms in the State Senate and retired from public office in 1996.
In 2008, Hank and his wife Betty were honored at the University of Tennessee with the dedication of The Hank and Betty Lauricella Center at Neyland Stadium, which provides a place for former Tennessee varsity athletes to gather before football games. Lauricella has been elected to the College Football Hall of Fame (1981), Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame (1982), Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame (1983), and the Louisiana American Italian Sports Hall of Fame (1986).
Lauricella was inducted into the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame in 2013.