March 29, 2024

Written by Mike Hobson


Former players, coaches, family and friends gathered in Tuscaloosa yesterday to honor and remember Clell Laverne Hobson Sr., who left this earth on March 14, 2024 at the age of 93. Prior to his passing Clell held the title of Alabama’s oldest living quarterback.


Born Nov. 28, 1930, in Tuscaloosa, Hobson played baseball and football at the University of Alabama in the early 1950’s after graduating from Tuscaloosa High School as a “Black Bear”.  Hobson grew up in the Rosedale community of Tuscaloosa under the watchful eye of parents Irene & Vernon Hobson and the influence of the Rosedale Baptist Church where the Hobson’s were well known. Vernon, who was a respected area softball coach, was a driving influence in the development of Clell as a prospect for college.




Hobson went on to play for the Crimson Tide under coach Harold “Red” Drew from 1949-52, leading his team to a 61-6 victory over Syracuse in the 1953 Orange Bowl in his final game.




Clell Laverne Hobson Sr.

Hobson lettered for Alabama in 1950, 1951, and 1952. Alabama finished 9-2, 5-6, and 10-2 during Hobson’s career. Freshmen were not allowed to play during that era. He had 107 completions for 1,299 yards and 11 touchdowns in his career at Alabama. He also rushed 164 times for 453 yards.

After college Hobson played professional baseball for five seasons with the Cleveland Indians, choosing baseball over a football offer from the Cleveland Browns. Dr. Gary White, a retired athletics administrator from the University recalled that “Clell was the resident manager at Friedman Hall, the old UA athletic dormitory, during his playing days and that Clell returned to the University in 1958 as one of Coach Bryant’s first crop of graduate assistants”.


In 1959 Hobson launched his high school coaching career and made his first stop with the Bibb County Choctaws in Centreville, where he coached until 1964. He arrived in Bibb County with wife Polly, and three children, Butch, Mike, and Linka. His record at Bibb was 34-13-3 over 5 seasons. His Bibb County coaching staff included Ex-Marine Pete Steele (Drill Sargent), Joe Elliott, and Brown Bolding. Elliott and Bolding went on to become Superintendents of Education in Bibb.



Friends in Bibb County remember the Clell Hobson family well. He and Polly took on running the Southern Belle restaurant, located in Brent, in addition to his coaching duties. He coached football, baseball, and basketball at Bibb County. Son, Butch Hobson, who went on to a professional baseball career, first established his baseball notoriety blasting over the fence home runs in the 11-12 y/o little league park while they lived in Centreville. Polly Orr Hobson died prematurely of cancer in 1995. Clell is now buried in Tuscaloosa Memorial Park alongside her.


From 1964 to 1966 he coached the Aliceville Yellow Jackets for 3 seasons, leaving with an impressive 24-4-2 record.  Clell finished his coaching career at Bessemer/Jess Lanier from 1967 until 1972, leaving coaching with a 32-26-2 record for the then Class 4A Purple Tigers.


In 14 years of coaching he finished with a 90-43-7 record. After coaching he remained in the school system of Bessemer serving in school administration until he returned to his home town of Tuscaloosa, where he served as a City Councilman from 1997-2001.


Clell’s oldest son Clell Jr. (Butch) presided over the heartwarming 2 hour memorial service held to remember and honor his father yesterday (March 29).


Former coaching associates and former players addressed the crowded Memorial Chapel room with stories of their time with Clell Hobson. Former players, including Barry Buckner (Bessemer) and Cecil Lagrone (Bibb County) talked about how much of an influence Coach Hobson had over their lives and athletic careers. Each said that the influence of Coach Hobson changed the direction of their lives.


Coach Bob McCool of Aliceville spoke warmly about his time working with Clell at Aliceville & Bessemer and the personal, brotherlike relationship he enjoyed with Clell for the remainder of his life.


While sports fans like to tell athletic stories the friends who spoke about Clell Hobson Sr. mostly recalled his dedicated commitment to his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Clell was a determined Christian who never used profanity in his coaching or public life. He only used a couple of well worn phrases for emphasis when he lost his coaching temper or patience.


Hobson, a disciple of Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant,  drove his players with a determined and gritty toughness and revealed a softer side when appropriate in exerting his influence over developing athletes.  He had a refined way of extracting the most extraordinary effort out of every athlete he ever coached. No athlete dared to “walk” on a football field. The only thing he would not abide was an athlete who gave less than his best effort at all times. Of course, even though he did not use bad language, kicking a chalkboard, or a player’s rear end, was not beyond his style of coaching. Half time motivational speeches were legendary.


Yesterday’s speakers repeatedly said that Clell Hobson had a personal lifelong relationship with Jesus Christ and that he was a dedicated follower of His teachings. He lived an exemplary life and knew that he would receive the blessings and promises of heaven.


The passing of Coach Clell Hobson Sr. leaves a large cratered hole in his family and the entire athletic community. Clell never forgot those who played for him. Whenever he met a former player he always treated that guy like he was the best athlete that ever played for his teams. Nothing but respect for the game and the athletes who played it.


We will miss you Coach, and we promise that we will see you again.