Alabama Football: 10 greatest quarterback-receiver duos of all time

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Alabama Football
Green Bay Packers receiver Don Hutson. Syndication: USATODAY /

In coming up with the top 10 quarterback-receiver duos, 21 QBs were considered. Three are listed below in an Honorable Mention category. The other eight quarterbacks considered, but not chosen are Riley Smith, Steve Sloan, Walter Lewis, John Parker Wilson, Brodie Croyle, Greg McElroy, Andrew Zow, and Gary Hollingsworth.

The three Honorable Mentions have in common that they are members of the College Football Hall of Fame. Not only were they passers, but they were also key runners for the Crimson Tide. Two of them, in the single-wing era, were listed as halfbacks, but they received most of the snaps from center and did almost all the passing.

Few of their stats can be compared to college football’s current era. The game is so different today. For the record, Riley Smith was not added to the trio below despite being a member of the College Football Hall of Fame. Though a quarterback, Smith was known for his leadership and blocking, rather than as a passer.

Three Alabama Football QB-Receiver Duo Honorable Mentions

  • Pooley Hubert and Johnny Mack Brown – Hubert began his college football career as a tackle and was moved to fullback and quarterback. Brown was a superstar halfback that got the most attention as a runner and as the Tide’s leading receiver. In the 1925 season that culminated in Alabama’s upset Rose Bowl victory, Pooley Hubert was the Crimson Tide’s best player. Both players are in the College Football Hall of Fame.
  • Dixie Howell and Don Hutson – If ‘Howell to Hutson’ is not forever remembered in Alabama Crimson Tide lore, it should be. The duo was sensational. Howell was the star of the 1935 Rose Bowl, passing for 160 yards and running for 111 yards. Though stats from Don Hutson’s Alabama career don’t compare to today, a claim can be made he was one of the most explosive receivers in Crimson Tide history. Both men are in the College Football Hall of Fame.
  • Harry Gilmer and Rebel Steiner – No offense to Steiner who caught most of Gilmer’s passes, but Gilmer did not need much help. In the 1945 season, Gilmer led Alabama in passing, rushing, kick returns, interceptions and punt returns. He was also the Tide kicker and one of its best tacklers. Years later a college coach remarked Gilmer ruined a generation of potential star, college football QBs. Many tried to match Gilmer’s ‘jump pass’ technique but did not have his athletic ability to execute it. Gilmer is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.