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Dick Butkus a Force in College Football

Oct. 23, 1963 - You could hear the groans all the way from the Los Angeles campus of UCLA when Bob Nicolette, varsity trainee at the University of Illinois, cheerfully announced that Dick Butkus (pictured) would be able to tackle with TWO arms Friday night when the Illini shoot for their fourth victory. Butkus, a gang on defense whose tackles have been the keynote of Illini success this season, played against Minnesota last week with an inflamed left elbow. “I hardly used my left arm at all,” the 237-pound junior reported afterward. “I had to go at them with my shoulder.” All Butkus did with one arm was rack up 17 tackles, six of them solo stops, and jar two Gopher ball carriers so hard they fumbled. Illinois’ recovery of four Minnesota fumbles was a big item in its 16-6 victory. Coach Pete Elliott can’t say enough about the big, quiet Chicagoan who plays with grim intensity and even practices that way. “One of the great things about Dick is his attitude toward the game,” Elliott said. “He not only plays hard every second of every game, he practices that way. He came back from summer vacation in perfect shape and was one of our leaders in the intensive running program of September. He’s always seeking to improve. You can well imagine the effect he has on the rest of the squad. They know he’s a bonafide All-America, he’s getting tons of publicity — all of which he deserves — and yet he works like a rookie trying to make the squad.” Dick, who followed his brother Ron to Illinois, makes no bones about his future. “Pro football,” he says. “I’ve played football about as long as I can remember. I hope to play it a long time yet. When I’m through as a player, I hope I can stay in the game in some capacity.”


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