Hall of Fame running back Paul “Tank” Younger set the measuring standard for Grambling football. The nickname “Tank” derives from abusing any opposition that got in his way. According to most Gramblinites, Younger is remembered as one of the greatest players to put on a Grambling uniform.Paul Lawrence Younger was born June 15, 1928, in Grambling. When Younger arrived on the Grambling campus in 1945, he made an immediate impact. When he came in, he was a tackle; however, with his outstanding athletic ability and quickness, Coach Eddie Robinson placed Tank at running back.
He capped off an outstanding freshman campaign by leading the nation with 25 touchdowns.
When he graduated from Grambling in 1948, Younger had racked up an impressive 60 touchdowns (which was at that time an NCAA record). The same year that Younger graduated, he was also voted Player of the Year by Black College Football and earned a selection on the 1948 Pittsburgh Courier All-American team.
Ironically after a stellar collegiate career, he was not picked in the 1949 National Football League (NFL) draft, but he did sign a free agent contract with the Los Angeles Rams. In his nine years with the Rams, Younger was a part of the Bull Elephant backfield that also featured Deacon Dan Towler and Dick Hoerner. Today, Younger is sixth all-time on the St. Louis Rams rushing list with 3,298 yards.
After a successful nine-year run with the Rams, he signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1958 and retired the following year.
During his 10-year career in the NFL, Tank Younger compiled 4,807 total yards (3,640 rushing and 1,167 passing), 35 touchdowns and three interceptions. He was also voted to four Pro Bowls.
On Sept 15, 2001, Younger died at the age of 73. Tank Younger might be gone, but he leaves behind several outstanding accomplishments. He was a pioneer for breaking down racial barriers in the NFL that had kept African Americans out for years. Tank Younger is a role model for generations to come.