Alabama Football: ‘Ten Best Tide WRs of All-Time’ proves Tide is WRU

Mandatory Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports /
1 of 8
Alabama football
(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /

For most of its history, Alabama football has been known for traditional uniforms, tough defense and powerful rushing attacks. Though less known for receivers, the Crimson Tide has had many great ones.

The ten best Crimson Tide wide receivers of all time are measured by their college careers. Divining the best former Crimson Tide, NFL receivers would be a completely different exercise.

The list is subjective but relies heavily on Alabama football statistical records. Players from run-dominated eras are not punished for their relatively modest numbers. Some leeway is given in one case when the position definition of an end was a good bit different from today.

Two Alabama Football Receiving Legends

Rating players from the Crimson Tide’s early decades is difficult. The game played long ago was so different from the one played now. The two players profiled below deserve to be recognized, but coming from past eras, they are not included in the Tide’s Top 10.

Hoyt ‘Wu’ Winslett (1924-1926)

Winslett was a triple threat player. He caught passes, ran the football and also threw passes. In his best season (1926) he was primarily an end and a running back. Being end in the 1920s did not mean being a wide receiver as the position is known today. The most important job for ends of that era was to block on offense.

Winslett was blessed with so much talent he excelled wherever Alabama football coach, Wallace Wade played him. It is a stretch to include Winslett in a wide receiver list but Winslett is one of the best triple-threat guys in Alabama football history.

Don Hutson (1932-1934)

It could be argued Don Hutson is the greatest Crimson Tide receiver of all time. However, most of his notoriety comes from his NFL career.

Don Hutson recorded only modest stats in his sophomore and junior Crimson Tide seasons. In limited play, and inside an offense not much interested in passing, he had only seven catches in two seasons.

In 1934 Alabama head coach, Frank Thomas decided with Dixie Howell’s arm, Don Hutson’s speed (claimed to be 9.7 for100 yards) should be utilized in the passing game. The results not only re-defined the receiver position, but they also led to offensive changes throughout college football.

Don Hutson’s passing route designs revolutionized the game. What could not be replicated was Hutson’s route running talents. He had moves college football had never seen. In the 1935 Rose Bowl, Hutson caught six passes for 165 yards and two TD’s in the win over Stanford. He was named to the 1934 All-American team.

What he achieved as a Green Bay Packer was even more phenomenal. When he was named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, he was credited with creating passing routes that became standard throughout professional and college football.