Grenny Lansdell

December 09, 1999

John Hall

The living legacy of one of the last of the truly great all-around

triple-threat stars in college football history is very much in evidence

at Newport Harbor High these particularly glorious gridiron days for the

unbeaten (12-0-1 and counting) 1999 Sailors.

Senior tight end-nose guard-defensive end and student body president

Brad Lansdell Craig and his younger brother, sophomore reserve


quarterback Morgan Earl Craig, both members of Coach Jeff Brinkley's

high-rolling varsity which duels Irvine Friday night for the CIF Division

VI championship, are grandsons of USC legend Grenny Lansdell.

Grenville Archer Lansdell Jr., WWII hero and All-American tailback in

the old Howard Jones Thundering Herd power-plus single-wing offense in

1939. And today a member of the Daily Pilot's Sports Hall of Fame,

celebrating the millennium.

Lansdell died in 1983 of complications from Alzheimer's, but his name

lives on in Southern California. Mary Lansdell, his widow and grandmother

of the Craig brothers, as well as mother of their mother, Brett, still

resides in her and Grenny's longtime home just around the corner from

Newport Harbor High.

To say he was "one of the last of truly great all-around triple-threat

stars" is hardly an exaggeration as the triple-threaters vanished with

the dinosaur shortly after 1940 when Coach Clark Shaughnessy reintroduced

the T-Formation at Stanford and it swept all of football as Frankie

Albert led the Indians to a 21-13 victory over Nebraska in the Rose Bowl

New Year's Day 1941.

Although Lansdell was listed as a quarterback by Jones, he was clearly

a "tailback in the single-wing, taking every snap to run, pass or punt

(the classic triple-threat).

He was also the deep safety in the standard 6-2-2-1 defense of the day

and returned punts. Simply enough, football was another game prior to the

1940 revolution and the monumental interruption of WWII.

There were no free substitution, no facemasks, the helmets were

primitive pieces of thin leather and you could enter and exit only once

each quarter.

Lansdell was the master combination of power runner, passer, punter,

especially adept at the then popular and often employed "quick kick," and

he was a sure tackler and extremely dangerous in the open field returning


"Grenny Lansdell is the best all-around player the Trojans have had in

the history of the university," wrote Hall of Fame sportswriter Braven

Dyer for The Times in 1939, the ultimate bouquet from a journalist who

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