NFL is next stop for Towson's Vinson

The Inside Stuff

September 28, 1992|By Bill Tanton

Tony Vinson is going to be playing his football on Sundays in a couple years.

That's a flat prediction regarding the sensational running back who's playing his first year for Towson State. He'll be a pro after he plays this season and next for the Tigers.

I've seen Vinson play his past two games. I've watched him in practice. And there's no doubt in my mind. He'll wind up in the NFL.

"Vinson looks like a big-time back to me," says Ernie Accorsi, the former general manager of the Cleveland Browns.

"Tony gets better every week," says his coach, Gordy Combs.

True enough. After sitting out last season as a transfer from Purdue, the 6-foot-2, 215-pound Vinson has worked out the rust and is playing the best football of his life.

In the 24-21 victory over Bucknell two weeks ago, he ran 26 times for 140 yards. In the 37-18 victory over Hofstra Saturday night, he carried 29 times for 255 yards -- a school record. The previous mark (221 yards) was held by Dave Meggett, now of the New York Giants.

Said Vinson: "It's not every day that you break a record held by a guy who's All-Pro in the NFL."

Vinson has it all -- the size, the speed (in indoor track, he beats sprinters 50 pounds lighter than he), the moves, the endurance. Saturday he caught two passes coming out of the backfield, one of them for 27 yards.

"If you knew him, you'd love him," says Combs, the Tigers' first-year coach. "He's a wonderful young man."

He's polite and well-spoken. He's a business major who is serious about getting his degree. He enjoys playing at Towson, where he has led the team to a 2-1 record.

Vinson has really picked up the spirit at Towson. Saturday he was exhorting the crowd to get into the game. He takes pride in the team's motto: "Bring It Back One At A Time," meaning bring back football glory to Towson, which once was a big winner but won only one game last year, over Howard.

"You have to remember," said Towson senior defensive tackle Bob Meehan, "it gets tougher from here on."

This Saturday at 7 p.m. Towson plays host to Liberty. Then the Tigers go on the road to Delaware State and William & Mary. After that come James Madison, Indiana (Pa.), Northeastern and Delaware.

There may be more surprising wins ahead. The main reason to believe that is No. 44 -- Tony Vinson.

* Yesterday was a dreary day at the Yards -- another rain delay, and a 6-1 loss to Boston that eliminated the O's from the AL East race.

The day was memorable, though, because of the sentimental reuniting of two great old Orioles, the battery of Mike Flanagan and Rick Dempsey. The reception given Dempsey, who was activated just before game time, shows once again that the club absolutely must find a permanent job for the Demper. Like no other, he provides the warmth and continuity people say the organization lacks.

* The Maryland Million, for its first few years, appeared to be something that hit the thoroughbred scene fast and, were it not for the involvement of Jim McKay, might die out just as fast. No more.

Saturday at Pimlico the seventh annual Maryland Million was filled with record numbers. A record field of 202 was pre-entered. A Maryland Million record crowd of 24,777 attended and bet a record $2,797,102.

"The Maryland Million is old enough to have a history now," says McKay, the Maryland-based ABC-TV sports commentator. "When all of us are gone, there'll still be a Maryland Million."

One of the best verbal jabs I've ever heard came over the weekend from Jerry Robb, who trains the legendary Little Bold John. It was aimed at Hal C. B. Clagett, who bred the 10-year-old winner of 25 stakes and more than $1.9 million.

At the Maryland Million breakfast at the track, Clagett, a lawyer and former president of the Maryland Bar Association, went on endlessly in his introduction of Robb as winner of the outstanding trainer award.

When Robb finally got to speak, his first words were: "Now you know where Little Bold John gets his wind from."

Little Bold John finished sixth and out of the money in the 11th race, the $200,000 Budweiser Maryland Classic won by Reputed Testamony.

* One of the most delightful sportsmen our town has ever known -- golf pro Jimmy Flattery -- died at 78 last week. Through the many years he ran the annual Flattery Golf tournament for kids as young as 2, he probably did as much as anyone to encourage Baltimore area people to take up the game of golf.

Flattery, who came here from Salem, Mass., as a young pro, spent most of his career at Forest Park. He worked until six months ago at Hunt Valley. Jimmy's lifelong hero was the late, great Walter Hagen, who coined the expression: "I never wanted be a millionaire. I just want to live like one." That tells a lot about Jimmy Flattery.

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