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Looking Back: Former ‘Bama QB Vince Sutton passes away

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The ex-Tide signal caller had been battling a lot of health issues.

Sutton with future Tampa Bay HC, Ray Perkins in 1984

Vox Archives (circa 2011)

There reaches a point, after an arduous journey, when we lay down the sword and shield and surrender the fight. Such it was with former Alabama quarterback Vince Sutton.

After two recent strokes, kidney disease, and partial blindness, Sutton passed away today at 51.

The LaGrange (Ga.) High School product started five games behind center for Alabama in 1984 and ended his playing career with 1,102 passing yards and 10 touchdowns (1984-88).

Before Jalen Hurts’ remarkable campaign in 2017, Sutton was the last true freshman quarterback to start for the Crimson Tide. To join an elite company that, at the time, included just Harry Gilmer, Sutton had to out-duel a handful of other contenders, including eventual starter and future ‘Bama head coach Mike Shula:

Embroiled in a competition with then-sophomore Mike Shula that spilled over into the season, Sutton was called on to start in the third game in 1984 against Southwest Louisiana.

“All I looked at was I’ve got two guys here and they’re better than the other six, OK, so what’s a good way to figure out which one should be starting?” former Alabama coach Ray Perkins recalled. “So we went with it, I let them both know it, they agreed with it, and we took off.”

Sutton, primarily a backup, returned to Georgia after his playing days, and served as head football coach for Dawson Street Christian School. He was bit of a local legend in LaGrange, where they named a local thoroughfare after him. During the fall, he could be found with his four sons cheering on the Tide and recounting his own special days in Crimson and White.

In 2011, Kleph did a great retrospective on Sutton that seems as worthy a eulogy as any.

May the ground lie softly on you, Vince. Roll Tide.