Trammell was born in Scottsboro, Alabama, and played high school football at Scottsboro High School where he earned All-County, All-State, All-Southern and All-American honors during his four year prep career. He was also named most valuable basketball player in Alabama as a high school senior.
His football career at Alabama began just prior to head coach Paul "Bear" Bryant's announcement that he planned to return to his alma mater to take over as head coach of the ailing football program. Trammell's family recalls a personal visit at the time and an embellished 'pep talk' from Coach Bryant saying that, "if you'll commit to Alabama, then I'll come back to Alabama." Trammell had planned to attend Georgia Tech, but at this point, made a career altering decision that would change the rest of his life.
Bryant's influence would once again bring the program into the national spotlight and Trammell was his first star player. Coach Bryant had promised the team that they would win a national championship within four years, as told by team-mate Billy Neighbors. After winning a SEC championship in 1960, his prediction became mysteriously true, with Trammell leading the team to a National Championship in 1961. At a reception in the Grand Ballroom at the Waldorf-Astoria in in New York on December 5th, with President John F. Kennedy, Coach Bryant and Pat Trammell together proudly accepted the MacArthur Trophy on (black & white) national television for the team's outstanding accomplishment. (Of interest, a similar scene was digitally remastered in Winston Groom's movie, Forrest Gump, in 1994, with President John F. Kennedy digitally morphed into the set with Tom Hanks accepting a handshake for being an All-American.)
Trammell is most widely known for his death in 1968, falling victim to metastatic testicular cancer at the age of 28 - just two years after earning his M.D.degree from the Medical College of Alabama, now known as the University of Alabama School of Medicine. He was just completing a residency in Dermatology and left behind a wife and two young children.
At his funeral, thousands attended the services, all ranging from dignitaries to those who had never met him, but whose lives were touched and inspired by him. Condolences were sent in from around the state and the country, including Governor George Wallace, Governor Albert Brewer, Congressman Robert E. Jones, Jr. and President Richard Nixon. A Resolution from the Alabama State House of Representatives was written into law acknowledging the tragic loss. The reigning president of the University of Alabama, Dr. Frank Rose, gave an eloquent eulogy at his funeral. With tears streaming down his face, tough, tenatious Paul "Bear" Bryant escorted Pat's mother down the aisle of the standing room only church in Scottsboro.
In Bryant's autobiography The Bear, he stated that the day Pat died was "the saddest day of my life."
After Coach Bryant celebrated his 300th college football victory, in 1980, he was interviewed by The Birmingham News reflecting on his success as a football coach, leader and mentor. He was quoted in the October 6th edition that 'Pat Trammell was the favorite person in my entire life.'
The Legacy of Pat Trammell has lived on in many ways since his death. He was posthumously inducted into Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 1975.
The Alabama "A" Club Educational and Charitable Foundation was established three weeks after Pat's death on December 31st, 1968 by his teammates, Tommy Brooker, James A. Sharpe, Joseph K. Sims, and Billy Neighbors. Coach Bryant and the team recognized the need for a charitable program that would lend support to the families and children of former University of Alabama football players in times of need. The "A" Club has evolved into a world class charitable support system for the University of Alabama football family that lives on today.
The prestigous and coveted Pat Trammell Award is presented annually for an outstanding Alabama football player who demonstrates the merit, leadership and high standards that are representative of Pat Trammell himself as well as distinguished service to the University. The following is the list of recipients:
(Presented annually by Jefferson County Alumni Association and Pat Trammell, Jr.)
1988 David Smith
1989 John Mangum
1990 Roger Shultz
1991 Kevin Turner
1992 George Wilson
1993 Tobie Sheils
1994 Jay Barker
1995 John Walters
1996 John Causey
1997 Curtis Alexander
1998 John David Phillips
1999 Shaun Alexander
2000 Paul Hogan
2001 Andrew Zow
2002 Sam Collins
2004 Antonio Carter
2005 Matt Miller
2006 Tim Castille
2007 Keith Saunders and Matt Caddell