American Football Database
Clyde Crabtree
No. 17
Position:Halfback, quarterback
Personal information
Born:(1905-11-03)November 3, 1905
Altoona, Iowa
Died:April 21, 1994(1994-04-21) (aged 88)
South Miami, Florida
Height:5 ft 8 in (1.73 m)
Weight:160 lb (73 kg)
Career information
High school:Cicero (IL) J. Sterling Morton
Career history
* Frankford Yellow Jackets ( 1930)
Career highlights and awards
* Third-team All-American (1928)
Career NFL statistics
Games played:15
Games started:7
Player stats at
Player stats at PFR

Clyde Crabtree (November 3, 1905 – April 21, 1994), nicknamed "Cannonball Crabtree," was an American college and professional football player who was a halfback and quarterback in the National Football League (NFL) for a single season in 1930. Crabtree played college football for the University of Florida, and thereafter, he played professionally for the Frankford Yellow Jackets and Minneapolis Red Jackets of the NFL.

Early years

Crabtree was born in Altoona, Iowa in 1905.[1] He attended J. Sterling Morton High School in Cicero, Illinois,[2] and played for the Morton Mustangs high school football team even though he was relatively short and slight of build.

College career

Crabtree first attended Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, but dropped out after deciding that he did not like the social atmosphere of Northwestern.[3] After his mother and stepfather moved to Florida, his parents convinced him to enroll in the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida, where he played for coach Tom Sebring and coach Charlie Bachman's Florida Gators football teams from 1927 to 1929.[4] He was a gifted athlete, and had the ambidextrous ability to punt or dropkick the ball off either foot while on the run, or throw a forward pass with either arm.[3]

As a collegian, Crabtree was a key backfield contributor for three Gators squads in 1927, 1928 and 1929 which finished 7–3, 8–1 and 8–2, respectively.[3] All three squads ranked among the very best teams produced by the University of Florida through that time,[3] including the great Gator eleven of 1928 whose achievements remained unsurpassed by future Gators football teams through the 1960s, and arguably, through the early 1990s. In 1928, Crabtree was fortunate to have two of the best offensive ends in the country as his primary passing targets, Dutch Stanley and All-American Dale Van Sickel, and was supported by the other three talented and speedy backs of the Gators' "Phantom Four" offensive backfield—Carl Brumbaugh, Rainey Cawthon and Royce Goodbread.[3][5] By the second week, in less than three quarters of play, Crabtree had directed 8 touchdowns.[6][7] In an era before national polling, the 1928 Gators attracted national newspaper coverage as they outscored their opponents 336–44, leading the nation in scoring during the 1928 season; they finished 8–1, losing their final game to coach Robert Neyland's Tennessee Volunteers in Knoxville by a single point, 13–12. In that game, Buddy Hackman intercepted a lateral from Crabtree to Brumbaugh, who was in the clear had it been executed correctly.


Crabtree in Gators uniform, circa 1928.

As a junior in 1928, Crabtree was first-team All-Southern selection by the Associated Press, and received third-team All-American honors from the Associated Press, the Newspaper Enterprise Association and United Press.[8] Crabtree's final football game saw a major intersectional victory over the Oregon Webfoots in Miami. He returned a punt 80 yards for a score.[9] Crabtree was also a star forward for the Florida Gators basketball team in 1928 and 1929,[10] and was later inducted into the University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame as a "Gator Great" in 1976.[11][12] As part of an article series written for The Gainesville Sun in 2006, the Sun sportswriters chose him as No. 23 among the 100 all-time greatest Gators from the first 100 years of Florida football.[13]

Professional career

Crabtree played professional football for a single season in 1930, playing for the now-defunct Frankford Yellow Jackets and Minneapolis Red Jackets of the NFL.[14] He played in fifteen games, started in seven of them, and was responsible for scoring two touchdowns.[1]

Life after football

Crabtree returned to the University of Florida after his NFL career was over, and graduated with a bachelor's degree in education in 1934. He also earned a master's degree in education in 1951. Crabtree served as a high school sports coach in several of the high schools of Palm Beach County and Dade County, Florida, and later, as a school administrator.

He died of complications from diabetes in 1994; he was 88 years old.[15]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1, Players, Clyde Crabtree. Retrieved April 10, 2011.
  2., Players, Clyde Crabtree Archived November 22, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved April 10, 2011.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Tom McEwen, The Gators: A Story of Florida Football, The Strode Publishers, Huntsville, Alabama, pp. 82–103 (1974).
  4. 2011 Florida Gators Football Media Guide Archived April 2, 2012, at the Wayback Machine, University Athletic Association, Gainesville, Florida, p. 180 (2011). Retrieved August 28, 2011.
  5. "Florida Gets Good At Gridiron Sport," The Pittsburgh Press (December 4, 1928). Retrieved January 19, 2013.
  6. "Crabtree Tops Players With Florida Squad". The Miami News. October 17, 1928.,6077059&hl=en.
  7. "Bachman Lauds Clyde Crabtree". St. Petersburg Times. October 19, 1928.,2111014&hl=en.
  8. Alan J. Gould, "All-American Selections for 1928," The Free Lance-Star, p. 6 (December 8, 1928). Retrieved June 20, 2011.
  9. Rex Saffer (December 8, 1929). "Webfoots Are Defeated 20-6". Oregon Statesman: p. 18. Retrieved August 19, 2015. open access
  10. Associated Press, "Florida's 1930 Cage Entry," The Reading Eagle, p. 10 (January 4, 1930). Retrieved July 23, 2010.
  11. F Club, Hall of Fame, Gator Greats. Retrieved December 13, 2014.
  12. "Nine Named to UF Hall of Fame," St. Petersburg Times, p. 3C (April 24, 1976). Retrieved July 23, 2011.
  13. Robbie Andreu & Pat Dooley, "No. 23 Clyde 'Cannonball' Crabtree," The Gainesville Sun (August 11, 2006). Retrieved March 31, 2013.
  14. National Football League, Historical Players, Clyde Crabtree. Retrieved April 11, 2011.
  15. "Clyde Crabtree, high school coach, principal," The Miami Herald (April 25, 1994). Retrieved June 20, 2011.


  • Carlson, Norm, University of Florida Football Vault: The History of the Florida Gators, Whitman Publishing, LLC, Atlanta, Georgia (2007). ISBN 0-7948-2298-3.
  • Douchant, Mike, Encyclopedia of College Basketball, Gale Research, New York, New York (1995). ISBN 0-8103-9640-8.
  • Golenbock, Peter, Go Gators! An Oral History of Florida's Pursuit of Gridiron Glory, Legends Publishing, LLC, St. Petersburg, Florida (2002). ISBN 0-9650782-1-3.
  • Hairston, Jack, Tales from the Gator Swamp: A Collection of the Greatest Gator Stories Ever Told, Sports Publishing, LLC, Champaign, Illinois (2002). ISBN 1-58261-514-4.
  • McCarthy, Kevin M., Fightin' Gators: A History of University of Florida Football, Arcadia Publishing, Mount Pleasant, South Carolina (2000). ISBN 978-0-7385-0559-6.
  • McEwen, Tom, The Gators: A Story of Florida Football, The Strode Publishers, Huntsville, Alabama (1974). ISBN 0-87397-025-X.
  • Nash, Noel, ed., The Gainesville Sun Presents The Greatest Moments in Florida Gators Football, Sports Publishing, Inc., Champaign, Illinois (1998). ISBN 1-57167-196-X.

Template:1928 College Football Composite All-Southerns