|1895 University of Alabama football team.|
This year’s Iron Bowl is set for this Saturday at 2:30 p.m. at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa. Alabama enters the game with an unbeaten record and ranked No. 1 in the nation. Auburn is 8-3 overall, ranked a respectable No. 15 in the country and looking to upset their biggest rival on national television.
According to the all-time lettermen lists at Alabama and Auburn, eight players from Wilcox County have lettered in football at the two schools over the years, six at Auburn and two at Alabama. As you might have guessed, just about all of them played in their fair share of Iron Bowls.
Wilcox County lettermen at Auburn include Chris Browder, Frank McIntosh, Thurston Adams, Gordon Stone, E.A. Pruett and C.A. Pruitt. Lettermen at Alabama from Wilcox County include John Gartman and John Felix Jenkins.
Jenkins, who was a native of Camden, played end at Alabama in 1894 and 1895. During the 1894 season, Alabama got its first ever win over Auburn (then called the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Alabama) on Thanksgiving Day at Riverside Park in Montgomery, beating the Tigers, 18-0. During the 1895 season, the first Iron Bowl ever played in Tuscaloosa was won by Alabama, 48-0, in a game played on Nov. 23 on The Quad.
Pine Hill native C.A. Pruitt played end at Auburn and lettered in 1919, 1922, 1923 and 1924. Auburn and Alabama didn’t play each other during those seasons, but Auburn went 8-1 in 1919, 8-2 in 1922, 3-3-3 in 1923 and 4-4-1 in 1924.
E.A. Pruett, who was also a native of Pine Hill, played tackle at Auburn and lettered in 1925 and 1926. Again, Auburn and Alabama didn’t play during those seasons. In fact, they didn’t play each other between 1906 and 1948. Auburn went 3-2-1 in 1925 and posted a 5-4 record in 1926.
Pine Apple native Thurston Adams played quarterback at Auburn and lettered in 1925, 1926, 1927 and 1928. Adams and E.A. Pruett were apparently teammates in 1925 and 1926, seasons in which Auburn went a combined 8-6-1. Auburn went 0-7-2 in 1927 and went 1-8 in 1928.
Gordon Stone, who was also from Pine Apple, played defensive back at Auburn and lettered in 1985. Playing under head coach Pat Dye, the Tigers went 8-4 that season as Bo Jackson rushed for 1,786 yards on his way to that year’s Heisman Trophy. Alabama won that year’s Iron Bowl, beating Auburn, 25-23, on Nov. 30 at Legion Field in Birmingham.
Camden native Frank McIntosh played quarterback at Auburn and lettered in 1988, 1989 and 1990. In 1988, Dye led Auburn to a 10-2 finish and a 15-10 win over Alabama on Nov. 25 at Legion Field. In 1989, Dye led the Tigers to a 10-2 finish and a 30-20 upset win over No. 2-ranked Alabama on Dec. 2 at Legion Field. In 1990, Dye led Auburn to an 8-3-1 finish, which included a 16-7 loss to Alabama on Dec. 1 at Legion Field.
John Gartman, another Camden native, played split end at Alabama and lettered in 2000. That season, Alabama went 3-8 in its final season under head coach Mike Dubose. In that year’s Iron Bowl, Auburn beat Alabama, 9-0, on Nov. 18 in Tuscaloosa.
Last, but not least, Chris Browder, who was also from Camden, played defensive end at Auburn and lettered during the 2004, 2005 and 2006 seasons. Browder, who went to Wilcox Central High School, was a 6-foot-4, 240-pound sophomore in 2004 and helped lead the Tigers to a 13-0 finish and a 21-13 win over Alabama on Nov. 20 in Tuscaloosa. In 2005, Auburn went 9-3 and beat No. 8-ranked Alabama, 28-18, on Nov. 19 in Auburn. In 2006, Auburn went 11-2 overall and beat Alabama, 22-15, on Nov. 18 in Tuscaloosa.
In the end, I think it’s important to point out that it is very possible that Wilcox County has produced other lettermen at Alabama and Auburn over the years aside from those mentioned above. The lettermen records at both universities, especially from their early years, have been found to contain errors and omissions, so if you know of any other Alabama or Auburn players from Wilcox County not mentioned above, please let me know by e-mailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.