Former state legislator Lauricella dies at 83

Francis “Hank” E. Lauricella, a star football player for the Tennessee Volunteers who later served in the Louisiana Legislature from Jefferson Parish from 1972 to 1996, died Tuesday. He was 83.

Lauricella was born in Harahan and attended Holy Cross High School in New Orleans, starring on the team that won the city football championship in 1947.

Picking the Volunteers over home state schools LSU and Tulane, he played under legendary coach Robert Neyland at the University of Tennessee from 1949 to 1951.

He was a member of the 1950 and 1951 national championship teams. At a time when most schools had switched to the T formation, the 5-foot-11, 175-pound Lauricella won fame in the Vols’ single-wing offense, doing most of the rushing and passing.

On the defensive side, he started at safety and also was Tennessee’s primary kick and punt returner and handled the punting duties. Due to his many skills, he was known as “Mr. Everything.”

In 1951, Lauricella was named an All-American and was the first runner-up in the Heisman Trophy voting. He was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1981.

After spending eight years in the Louisiana House of Representatives, he served as a state senator for many years.

“I was fortunate to have the opportunity to be around Hank on a number of occasions over the past two years,” Tennessee Director of Athletics Dave Hart said. “He was a gentleman’s gentleman with the competitive edge of a Heisman Trophy contender. Hank was all Vol and will be missed.”

A wake will be held from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday at Lake Lawn Metairie Funeral Home. There will be a visitation, with a Mass to follow, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 2 at St. Rita Catholic Church in Harahan.