61 Days Away from Bama Kickoff: Sam Gellerstedt
Each day counting down to Alabama's Week 1 matchup with Utah State, I will highlight one former player whose jersey number coincides with the amount of days until the game. The Crimson Tide kicks off in just 61 days, so let's look at the career of former defender Sam Gellerstedt.
Sam Gellerstedt is one of very few players to don the No. 61 and start for the Crimson Tide, having done so for just one season under Paul Bryant in 1968.
In his lone year with the team, the Montgomery native was the leader of Alabama's defensive front as the starting nose guard despite standing only 5-foot-8, 196 lbs. The Crimson Tide went 8-3 in 1968, finishing the season with a loss to Missouri in the Gator Bowl, but Gellerstedt was named both an All-SEC selection and All-American for his excellent play.
Possessing more than enough heart to overcome his physical shortcomings, the undersized defender made the most of what he had, and coach Bryant loved him for it.
The legendary leader of Alabama's football program frequently referred to Gellerstedt as one of the best nose guards he had ever seen, and was devastated when he was forced to kick the defender off the team for off-the-field issues.
After his season with the Tide, Gellerstedt transferred to the University of Tampa where he helped guide the Spartans to a No. 1 ranking in 1970. In his final year, 1971, Gellerstedt was given All-Conference honors and named team MVP and is now a member of the University of Tampa Sports Hall of Fame.