Pat Trammell (1940-1968) was the quarterback for the University of Alabama (UA) Crimson Tide football team from 1958 to 1961. A member of Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant's first freshman class, Trammell earned All-American honors and led Alabama to a National Championship in 1961. UA had a 26-3-4 record in his three years as a starting quarterback. Trammell lost a battle with cancer only two years after earning his M.D. degree from the Medical College of Alabama (now the University of Alabama School of Medicine).
Born in Scottsboro in Jackson County on July 11, 1940, to Dr. and Mrs. E. L. Trammell, Trammell attended Scottsboro High School, where he earned All-County, All-State, All-Southern, and All-American honors as quarterback for the Wildcats. While there, he twice threw five touchdown passes in a game. Trammell also was named the state's most valuable high school basketball player in his senior year. He had planned to attend Georgia Tech to continue his football career. Bryant convinced him to change his mind, however, when he visited Trammell's home just before Bryant's announcement that he would be returning to his alma mater as head coach.
As soon as Trammell arrived in Tuscaloosa to join the team, he immediately asserted himself as a leader of Bryant's first recruiting classes, confidently telling his fellow recruits that he would be the starting quarterback. Trammell, true to his word, was Alabama's starting quarterback for three years. (At this time, freshmen were ineligible to play on the varsity.) During that time, he led his teams to more victories than all but two other quarterbacks (Harry Gilmer and Jay Barker) in Crimson Tide history.
In Trammell's first season as quarterback in 1959, UA posted a 7-2-2 record and earned a spot in the first Liberty Bowl, at the time played in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, losing to Pennsylvania State University by a score of 7-0. In Trammell's second season in 1960, Alabama won the Southeastern Conference (SEC) Championship with a record of 8-1-2 and played in the Bluebonnet Bowl in Houston, Texas, where UA played the University of Texas to a 3-3 tie. Trammell concluded his college career in 1961 by leading his team to a perfect 11-0 record, a 10-3 victory in the Sugar Bowl over Arkansas, and a National Championship. Trammell was named an All-American, SEC Player of the Year, and 1961 Collegiate Player of the Year by the Atlanta Touchdown Club. He also was selected to the All-SEC Academic team. Trammell accompanied Bryant to New York's Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in December 1961 to accept the MacArthur Trophy, an award presented to the nation's best team, at a reception attended by Pres. John F. Kennedy and Gen. Douglas McArthur. According to other players, Trammell was a particular favorite of Bryant's and one of the few players who would argue with Bryant and even reject plays sent in by him from the sidelines.
When Trammell completed his playing eligibility at UA and was approached by Coach Vince Lombardi of the Green Bay Packers to play professional football, Bryant advised Trammell that he would be better served by attending medical school instead. Trammell graduated from the Medical College of Alabama in 1966. He chose dermatology as his specialty and, ironically, diagnosed and successfully treated Auburn University's head football coach Ralph "Shug" Jordan, who had skin cancer. Trammell, however, was diagnosed with testicular cancer in the summer of 1968. He aggressively fought the cancer, taking several trips to New York for experimental treatments. Although his cancer went into remission for a short time in the fall, it soon returned. Trammell nevertheless saw his alma mater play one more time, a 24-16 victory over Auburn on November 30, 1968. He was presented the game ball in Alabama's locker room after the game. Trammell lived only 10 more days, dying on December 10, 1968, at the age of 28. He was survived by his wife, Clayton "Ba" Smith Trammell, and two children.
Trammell's funeral in Scottsboro was attended by thousands, and the family received condolences from many dignitaries. Shortly
after his death, the Alabama "A" Club, which consists of current and former players, established an educational and charitable
foundation in Trammell's memory to provide support for families and children of former Crimson Tide football players in times
of need. The Jefferson County chapter of the University of Alabama Alumni Association annually presents an award in his name to an outstanding Alabama
football player who demonstrates the merit, leadership, and high standards embodied by Trammell during his life. Trammell
was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 1975.
Robinson, Bill. "Paying Tribute to a QB." Talladega Daily Home, December 21, 2005.
Scott, Richard, and Jay Barker. Legends of Alabama Football. Champaign, Ill.: Sports Publishing, 2004.
Herbert J. "Jim" Lewis
Published February 11, 2009
Last updated December 1, 2014