E.J. Junior’s son brought a package into the house saying it was for him. E.J. was convinced he was wrong, for he had not ordered anything recently.
Junior then opened the package to see a football from the National Football Foundation, briefly unaware of its significance. He saw the date Dec. 8, 2020, on it. Dec. 8 is his birthday.
The football was not indicative of a birthday celebration. It’s a celebration of his legendary college football career.
Junior was announced Wednesday as a member of the 2020 class into the College Football Hall of Fame. He is the 19th former UA player or coach to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame, located in Atlanta and the host of this year’s SEC Media Days in July. He will be inducted during the National Football Foundation’s annual awards dinner in New York on Dec. 8.
“All I can do is just praise God over it,” Junior said.
Junior was a member of the 1978 and 1979 national championship teams. He completed his career with unanimous First Team All-American honors in 1980. UA went 44-4 in his career.
“It’s not just an honor for me, it’s for all the guys, the coaches, the administration at the University of Alabama,” he said. “I’m just a product of what we put on the field. Individuals may get recognized, but you’re only as good as the guys that kept you on the field, the trainers, Coach Bryant. It wasn’t anything I did special. They put me in a position to be successful.”
Proof of that theory: he plans on being in Birmingham in May to watch Sylvester Croom and Wooody McCorvey — Croom was his position coach — be inducted in to the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame.
Junior is in a class alongside 16 other players: Lomas Brown, Florida offensive lineman, 1981-84; Keith Byars, Ohio State running back, 1982-85; Eric Crouch, Nebraska quarterback, 1998-2001; Eric Dickerson, SMU running back, 1979-82; Glenn Dorsey, LSU defensive tackle, 2004-07; Jumbo Elliott, Michigan offensive lineman, 1984-87; Jason Hansen, Washington State kicker, 1988-91; E.J. Henderson, Maryland linebacker, 1999-2002; Steve McNair, Alcorn State quarterback, 1991-94; Case McNown, UCLA quarterback, 1995-98; Leslie O’Neal, Oklahoma State defensive tackle, 1982-85; Anthony Poindexter, Virginia defensive back, 1995-98; David Pollack, Georgia defensive end, 2001-04; Bob Stein, Minnesota defensive end, 1966-68; Michael Westbrook, Colorado wide receiver, 1991-94; and Elmo Wright, Houston wide receiver, 1968-70.
Two coaches are also in the induction class: Dick Sheridan and Andy Talley. Sheridan was a head coach at Furman from 1978-85 and N.C. State from 1986-1992; Talley was the head coach at St. Lawrence (NY) form 1979-83 and at Villanova from 1985-2016.