Holy Cross To Honor Six Former Football Players

Gill Fenerty

WORCESTER, Mass. – The athletic department at the College of the Holy Cross has announced that six former football standouts will be honored this fall, as the inaugural class of the Crusader Football Legends Ring of Fame. Gill Fenerty (Class of 1986), Gordie Lockbaum (Class of 1988), Edmund Murphy (Class of 1943), Bill Osmanski (Class of 1939), Vince Promuto (Class of 1960) and John Provost (Class of 1975) will all be honored in a ceremony at the 2010 homecoming game against Fordham on Oct. 2, and receive permanent recognition at Fitton Field.

Only former Crusader football players who have been elected to the Holy Cross Varsity Club Hall of Fame are eligible for this honor. The inductees were selected by a committee including representatives from the Holy Cross Athletic Department, the Gridiron Club Leadership Council, the Holy Cross Varsity Club and the Holy Cross Development Office, along with fan voting on www.goholycross.com.

Fenerty was a threat to score from anywhere on the field every time he carried the ball. He graduated as the all-time leader at Holy Cross with 3,670 yards gained which also stood as the New England record at that time. The complete list of the records he held upon graduation are too numerous to mention, but beyond the all-time yardage record he also was the career leader in yards per game (118.4), yards per carry (5.8), rushing touchdowns (27), all-purpose yards (4,826), 100-yard games (18) and 200-yard games (four). He also held numerous single season and single-game records. Chosen as All-New England and All-East each of his three seasons, Fenerty was a third team All-American as a sophomore and junior, and made several first team All-America squads as a senior. His most spectacular game as a Crusader came in his sophomore season against Columbia, when he ran for 337 yards and six touchdowns in a Holy Cross victory. He was drafted in the seventh round by the New Orleans Saints, but initially played for the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League, earning the league's Most Outstanding Rookie Award in 1987. He eventually would spend two seasons in the National Football League with the Saints, and started 12 of 16 games for the team during the 1991 season.

Lockbaum was a two-way standout for the Crusaders, in an era when the two-way player was a thing of the past. In his junior season he was named ECAC Player of the Year, New England Offensive Player of the Year, and WTBS National Player of the Year. He finished fifth in the Heisman Trophy balloting. In his senior season he finished third in the Heisman Trophy balloting, second in the Maxwell Award voting, and was named the Football News Division I-AA Player of the Year. He was a two-time first team All-America selection, receiving recognition on offense, defense and special teams. The only full-time two-way performer in major college football during 1986 and 1987, he was in the game for 143 plays against Army in 1986 and scored six touchdowns in a Holy Cross victory over Dartmouth that same season. He graduated with his name on top of many Crusader record lists, including points in a season (132) and a career (264); touchdowns in a season (22) and a career (44); all-purpose yards in a season (2,173); receptions in a game (15), season (78) and career (135); and receiving yards gained in a season (1,152) and career (2,012). He was selected to play in the Senior Bowl, East-West Classic and the Blue-Gray game, and was an NCAA Scholar-Athlete "Top Six" Honoree. Chosen as Crusader of the Year in 1988, his teams won two Lambert Cups (1986 and 1987) and went undefeated in 1987 (11-0), with that squad being selected as the national champion in the NCAA and Sports Network polls. He was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the ninth round, and was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2001.

Murphy captained the 1942 Holy Cross football team that achieved perhaps the program's most famous victory, the 55-12 upset over Boston College, which also snapped Holy Cross' three-game losing streak in the series. His efforts during his career were also instrumental in victories over Carnegie Tech in 1940 and Temple in 1942, and he was recognized with an invitation to the East-West Shrine Game in California. He was honored as All-East and All-New England in his senior season. Also a competitor in five events on the track team, Murphy became a teacher and coach at Dracut High School. Two of his sons, Ed (Class of 1970) and Dave (Class of 1982), also played football for Holy Cross.

Osmanski was the starting fullback for some of the greatest teams in Holy Cross history, using his bursting speed, instinctive balance and awesome power to bolster one of the finest offensive threats in Eastern football during the late 1930s. The Crusaders posted a 23-3-3 record during his career, with the three loses coming by a total of five points. In 1936, his 85-yard run gave Holy Cross a 7-0 victory over Dartmouth. He had other runs of 92, 68, 65 and 45 yards, was given the nickname "Bullet Bill" and was named an All-America in 1938. In 1939, he won the Most Valuable Player trophy in the College All-Star Game, before being drafted in the first round (sixth overall) by the Chicago Bears. He played for the Bears from 1939-1943, and again from 1946-1947. In between his two terms with the Bears, he served in the Marines in World War II. The Bears won four league championships in his time, and he led the league in rushing yardage in 1939. In addition to playing with the Bears, Osmanski earned a dental degree from Northwestern University. He briefly returned to Holy Cross as a head coach from 1948-1949 before returning to his dental practice full-time. He passed away in 1996.

Promuto never played football until his junior year in high school, but by the time he was a sophomore in college he broke into the starting lineup at guard at Holy Cross and would remain in the lineup for three years. He earned first team All-New England and honorable mention All-America honors as a senior. In his most famous game as a Crusader, Promuto recovered eight fumbles in a 14-0 victory over Boston College in 1957. He was also a star on the track team, as he graduated holding the Holy Cross outdoor shot put record of 50 feet, 8-1/2 inches set at the Eastern Intercollegiate meet in 1960. After graduating from Holy Cross, he was drafted in the fourth round by the Washington Redskins, and played 11 seasons in the National Football League. He became one of the franchise's best linemen, making the Pro Bowl twice (1964 and 1965). Promuto captained the Redskins and in 1968 received the Outstanding Redskin Award as the player who made invaluable contributions to the team and the Washington, D.C., community. In 2002 he was honored as one of the 70 Greatest Redskins, and has a spot on the Redskins Ring of Fame.

Provost was a first team All-America selection by the Walter Camp Football Foundation. He was also voted the New England Major College Player of the Year by United Press International, while he was picked by the New England College Coaches as the most outstanding football player in New England and was the recipient of the Coca-Cola Gold Helmet Award. In 1974 he led the nation in interceptions with 10 and finished his collegiate career as the all-time leader in interception return yardage with 470 yards and was second on the all-time national list of career interceptions with 27. His one man show against Brown in 1974, when he returned punts of 85 and 59 yards for scores and intercepted four passes, led Harvard coach Joe Restic to say that there was not a better safety man in the country. He was selected to play in the East-West Shrine game and in the All-American Bowl Game in Florida. He was also picked All-East and All-New England for three years.