By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. — Tommy Lorino will be remembered as one of Auburn's best, though his football career had an inauspicious start.
Lorino, who passed away Sunday, fumbled against Tennessee.
"After that Tennessee game, Coach Jordan never lost confidence in him, his teammates never lost confidence in him, he never lost confidence in himself, and he turned out to be one of the best Auburn ever had," said former Auburn athletics director David Housel on Monday.
Lorino was the running back on Auburn's famous teams of the 1950s. He averaged 8.44 yards a carry in 1956, still one of the SEC's best marks. He was the running back on the 1957 national championship team and the undefeated 1958 Tigers.
That wasn't all.
"He was probably a better defensive player than offensive player," Housel said.
Lorino 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 led the nation in rushing average in 1956. He also punted, played defense and was an outfielder for Auburn's 1958 SEC champion baseball team.
He and his 1957 national champion teammates were honored last September at Jordan-Hare Stadium. He was back on campus in April when Auburn recognized all its football captains through the years.
He lived in Panama City, Fla. Funeral arrangements were pending Monday.
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine