After watching Notre Dame's Ross Browner discard blockers two and three at a time and control a football game like he does, one has the feeling he must one mean dude.
He isn't. The stereotype of defensive lineman, frothing at the mouth, does not hold true in Browner's case.
He wreaks havoc on oppenents all right, but he does it with a certain calmness. He is rough, but not nasty, Cordial, but not friendly. He reminds one of a high-priced hit man: he may like his victims, "but this is business."
Tending to business like he does has made this 6-foot-3 247 pound defensive end porbably the best lineman in collegefootball today.
He will be one of Navy's biggest problems when the Mids play the Irish here at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.
Last season Browner won the Out-land Trophy. He is just as good this season. Running backs try to run away from him more now, but Browner still catches up to most of them. He has the perfect blend of speed, strength and grace.
Along with Earl Campbell of Texas and Terry Miller of Oklahoma State, both running backs, Browner is a top candidate for the Heisman Trophy.
He will tell a listener that end Leon Hart in 1946 was the last lineman to win the award, given to the year's best college football player, and that a defensive player has never won it.
Southern California caoch John Robinson, whose Trojans were drub-bed 49-19 by Notre Dame last week, said the Irish "are the hardest team to run against I've ever seen."
Navy coach George Welsh says, "Their defense is frightening."
Both coaches point to No. 89, Browner, as the reason.
So does Notre Dame coach Dan Devine.
"Ross Browner is a super player and a super kid," said Devine. "We have an extremely close relationship. His dad died a year or so ago and I'm very close to hismother. She asked me to treat him like my son. I would have even if she hadn't asked me. That's the effect Ross has on you."
Most professional scouts agree that Browner will be the first player selected in the college draft and, although Browner said he is looking forward to a career in professionalfootball, something else is important to him, too.
"I want to go into labor relations," he said. "I'm from a working-class family and I've worked in factories. My father was a steelworkers and I understand the problems the working people have. I know I can help his teammate-brother, junior safety Jim Browner, make All-America. "Not just because he's my brother, but because he's good," Brownersaid.
A third brother, Willard, was a starting running vback for the Irish until he flunked out of school before the season.
He is now a sophomore at Tulane and will play football next season.
Navy is 4-3 and hasn't beaten Notre Dame in its last 13 tries.
In order for the Irish, 5-1, to do that, they must win the remaining five games and then be matched against the right team in the right bowl games. The way things are going now, that could be Texas and the showdown would be in the Cotton Bowl.
The undefeated and No. 1-ranked Longhorns can take a big step toward the Southwest conference championship Saturday with a victoy over second-place Texas Tech. The conference title would put Texas in the Cotton Bowl. And if the Longhorns are unde-feated, the Irish say they will accept an invitation from the Cotton Bowl and settle the national championship on the field.
The Pacific-Eight title and an automatic trip to the Rose Bowl is a scramble among USC, 3-0, Washington, 3-0, UCLA, 2-0,and California 1-2. The Bruins and Huskies do battle Saturday while the Trojans take on the Golden Bears.
I. M. Hipp of Nebraska, the nation's fourth-leading rusher, and Terry Miller from Oklahoma State, the nation's third-leading rusher, will see who can get the most yards in theirhead-to-head meeting in Stillwater, Okla.
In the Big 10, Michigan will try to rebound, against Iowa, from its embarrassing defeat to Minnesota and Ohio State takes on Wisconsin.