Fall 2016 - Articles

Two of the Best

By April 23, 2018 No Comments
Photo collage of 1957 football team

The Auburn Family has lost two of its 1950s Auburn football legends in recent months. Frank Thomas “Tommy” Lorino Jr. died on May 22 at the age of 79. Roger Duane “Zeke” Smith died on July 22, also at age 79.

Both Lorino and Smith played on Auburn’s 1957 championship team.

Lorino was the running back on the 1957 championship team and the undefeated 1958 Tigers team, leading the nation in rushing average in 1956 at 8.44 yards a carry, still one of the SEC’s best marks.

He was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 1999 after a high school career in Bessemer, a college career at Auburn and becoming a familiar face around the SEC as a football official for more than 25 years. He also punted, played defense and was an outfielder for Auburn’s 1958 SEC champion baseball team.

Lorino lived in Panama City, Fla.

In addition to playing lineman on the 1957 championship team, Zeke Smith won the Outland Trophy in 1958 as the top lineman in the country. Each year, Auburn’s top defensive player is given the Zeke Smith Award.

“He set a high bar for Auburn football players to try to obtain, and very few have reached a level in college football that he did,” said Jay Jacobs, Auburn’s Director of Athletics. “The great thing is that as great a football player as he was, he was a finer man and always an inspiration to be around. The Auburn family will miss him, but his legacy and his expectations for all of us will never be forgotten.”

Lorino posing with football

Smith played in the NFL in 1960 and 1961 and in the CFL in 1962 and 1963. He was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 1982.

“Those were the toughest of the athletes because they played both ways,” Jacobs said, “and they didn’t have the benefit of the equipment we have today, the nutritionists and the sports medicine and the training. Those guys just gutted it out. They created an opportunity for those behind them.”

Charles Goldberg