1 Jan 1991: General view of footballs during the Sunkist Fiesta Bowl between the Louisville Cardinals and the Alabama Crimson Tide at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona. Louisville won the game 34-7. Mandatory Credit: Mike Powell /Allsport

One of Alabama's most popular players and its first No. 1 pick passes away


There have been many popular players in Alabama's long and illustrious football history, but perhaps none as popular as Harry Gilmer. While that name is not familiar to many of the younger fans, Gilmer was one of the greatest Crimson Tide players to ever strap on a pair of cleats. He passed away on Saturday at the age of 90.

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The legendary do-it-all Gilmer is still the only Alabama player to be selected first overall in the NFL Draft when he was selected by the Washington Redskins in the 1948 NFL Draft. He then played for nine years in the NFL and then coached the Detroit Lions for two years after.

Hootie Ingram -- a former player and athletic director at Alabama -- spoke to Tuscaloosa News about Gilmer's popularity during his playing career:


"[Gilmer] was No. 52. And that's the first time in my life I remember seeing people walking around in shorts and jerseys with a particular number. You couldn't go downtown and buy a jersey in a store like you do today, but your momma would sew a '52' on your sweater, or kids would draw it in pencil."

While with the Crimson Tide, Gilmer helped the team beat USC in the Rose Bowl and appeared in two Sugar Bowls. He also played quarterback, kick returner and halfback for the Crimson Tide.


[h/t Saturday Down South]