Talbott Todd, a University of Kentucky football star of the early 1960s and longtime supporter of the program who had been diagnosed with ALS in 2015, died Sunday at age 73.
Todd was honored last year by UK with the naming of the alley between the Nutter Field House and Kroger Field in his honor. Talbott Todd Way is the path UK football players take as they arrive at UK’s football facilities each game day. Fans line up along the path as part of the “Cat Walk” pregame ritual.
“I am overwhelmed, humbled and extremely proud of this tremendous honor and very grateful to UK Athletics and to my special friends who made this possible,” Todd said of the honor. “At the same I would like to dedicate this to all former, current and future football players that so proudly wore, wear and will wear the Blue and White.”
In a statement released by the school Monday, UK Director of Athletics Mitch Barnhart talked about the impact Todd made over the years.
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“His optimism, passion and encouragement, no matter the circumstances, were constant sources of strength for us,” Barnhart said. “There wasn’t a fall Saturday that Talbott didn’t believe his Wildcats were going to win. His love for this university was only exceeded by his love for his family.”
Todd, heralded as the “Richmond Rocket” for coaching legend Roy Kidd at Madison-Model High School, was a highly sought-after quarterback/defensive back. Todd quarterbacked Richmond-Model to a 27-game winning streak from 1959-61 for Kidd, who would later have a celebrated coaching career at Eastern Kentucky University.
Todd spent most of his time in the secondary for UK coach Charlie Bradshaw during a college playing career that lasted from 1963 to 1965. He led the team in interceptions with four as a sophomore and memorably secured the game-clinching fumble recovery as UK ended top-ranked Ole Miss’s 22-game regular-season winning streak on the road in 1964.
After UK, Todd went on to a career in insurance. Todd’s battle with ALS was recently profiled by UK.
“Everything about Talbott was happy, healthy and normal, but I noticed that every once in a while, his speech was slurred,” Marilyn, Todd’s wife of 52 years, said of her husband’s diagnosis in the article. “The first doctor thought it was medicine side effects, a second doctor conducted every kind of test but ALS was not in our thoughts at all.”
Marilyn Todd said an ALS diagnosis required the entire family’s hands-on assistance.
“God blessed us with two sons: Jim, his wife Shannon, and their two children Cape and Eben who live in North Myrtle Beach; and Jeff who lives in Lexington with his wife Bobbi and their children, Christian and Taylor. Their love and support cannot be measured in time or money, and we could not do it without them.”
Funeral arrangements have not been announced.