Former JSU football coach Don Salls dies at 101

Former JSU football coach Don Salls, pictured middle, died at 101 on Jan. 2. (Matt Reynolds/JSU)Former JSU football coach Don Salls, pictured middle, died at 101 on Jan. 2. (Matt Reynolds/JSU)

Ashleigh Crouch, Correspondent

Former Jacksonville State head football coach and Alabama football player Don Salls died on Jan. 2, according to JSU.

“We are saddened to learn of the passing of Coach Don Salls,” said JSU Athletics Director Greg Seitz. “We are still reaping the benefits and success of the foundation and culture that he established for our football program almost 75 years ago.”

Salls was born in Trenton, N.J. on June 24, 1919. At the time of his death, he was the oldest living former University of Alabama football player and the oldest living member of the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame. 

During his time at the University of Alabama, Salls played on a 1941 National Championship that won the Cotton Bowl before the season was interrupted by World War II, a war in which Salls went on to serve in. Salls was later wounded, presented with a Purple Heart and sent home as a Captain. 

After returning to the University of Alabama to complete his postgraduate work, he became the head football coach at JSU in 1946. 

Salls, who posted a 95-57-11 record over the course of his 19-year head coaching career at JSU, held the record for winning more games at JSU than any other coach in the university’s history.

His 1947 team allowed only 494 yards for the season, leading the nation in rushing defense that year and continuing to hold the JSU football program record for rushing defense more than 70 years later.

Salls also won three bowl games and seven conference titles during his career as head coach at JSU. 

He was inducted as a member of JSU’s Athletics Hall of Fame in 1986 and the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 1992 for his legendary achievements as a football coach.

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