| FTBL Hall of Fame Spotlight: Harry Gilmer



Hall of Fame Spotlight:
Harry Gilmer, University of Alabama

1993 College Football HOF Inductee
Installment one in a series honoring SEC greats in the College Football Hall of Fame.

Written by - It Takes Eleven


Harry Gilmer was a standout halfback for the Crimson Tide from 1944-47. A four year letterman who started every game of his career, Gilmer was a second team All-SEC selection his freshman year, and a three-time first team All-SEC selection. Taking direct snaps, Gilmer also functioned as the Tide’s passer. A jump passer, Gilmer exhibited a graceful passing style by leaping into the air before releasing a pass. His 64.8% completion rate in 1945 is second only to Kenny Stabler’s 1966 record of 64.9%. He also returned punts, kickoffs, punted, kicked and played defensive back.

Gilmer’s best year as a collegian was his sophomore year in 1945, when he led the undefeated Tide to an SEC championship and a 34-14 Rose Bowl victory over Southern Cal. That year, Gilmer was recognized as a first team All American, the SEC Most Valuable Player, Rose Bowl MVP and finished fifth in the Heisman balloting. In a standout game against Kentucky, Gilmer rushed 6 times for 216 yards and passed twice for 50 yards against the Wildcats. His 33 yards-per-play average remains a Bama record. As a junior, Gilmer led the Tide in rushing, passing, interceptions, punt returns, and kickoff returns. His 4,657 yards of total offense (2,894 passing, 1,763 rushing) remain among the top ten career efforts in Crimson Tide history.

As impressive as Gilmer was in the offensive backfield, his special teams and defensive exploits were noteworthy as well. As a punt returner, Gilmer holds the single season (18.1 yard per return) and career (13.5 yards/return) yards per return records. His 92 yard punt return in 1947 against LSU is an Alabama best, and his career kickoff return average (29 yards per return) is another record. As a kicker, his nine PATs in a single game as a freshman is tied for the third best in Bama history. As a defensive back, his 18 career interceptions are second only to Antonio Langham.

Gilmer’s contributions on the field have stood the test of time. Despite over 60 years of Alabama offensive and defensive efforts since his time at the Capstone, Gilmer’s name still appears an astounding 56 times in the Alabama Record Book. His 52 career touchdowns remain an Alabama best. It is this record that perhaps best captures the versatility of Gilmer’s contributions. Gilmer scored touchdowns in five different ways, tallying 29 through the air, 19 by rushing, two from punt returns, one kickoff and one interception.

After his playing days at Alabama, Gilmer played nine seasons in the NFL for the Redskins and the Lions. He went on to coach another 27 seasons in the NFL, including a two year stint as the Lions’ head coach in 1965 and 1966, and another 11 years as an NFL scout. Gilmer had a reputation for toughness that carried over into his coaching career. Lions offensive line coach Lou Rymkus once remarked, "Harry has a wonderful intellect for the game. His only fault is that he expects grown men to behave like grown men and not like babies."

Gilmer was selected as a member of Alabama’s Team of the Century as a defensive back.

What SEC great would you like to see highlighted in a future spotlight? Let us know in the comments below.
Top Bottom