Former Alabama Crimson Tide football star E.J. Junior has been selected for induction to the College Football Hall of Fame, according to an announcement Wednesday from the National Football Foundation (NFF) and College Football Hall of Fame on ESPN.
Junior, who is the 19th Crimson Tide player to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, was a part of the University of Alabama’s football team in the late 1970s.
The University of Alabama noted in a press release:
A unanimous First Team All-American in 1980, Junior was a finalist for the Lombardi Award and helped guide Alabama to consecutive national championships in 1978 and 1979. Junior and the 1979 Crimson Tide squad went 12-0, winning the program’s third straight Sugar Bowl and completing a run of eight SEC Championships in nine years. He was part of only four losses during his Alabama career, helping the Tide post an astounding 44-4 record, which included a 28-game winning streak, while never finishing lower than No. 6 in the national rankings.
The three-time First Team All-SEC selection capped his career in a dominant 30-2 win over Baylor in the 1981 Cotton Bowl. Selected as the 1980 SEC Lineman of the Year by both the Atlanta Touchdown Club and the Birmingham Monday Morning Quarterback Club, Junior was the leader of a defense that allowed only 98 points during his senior campaign and just 67 in 1979. He racked up 190 tackles and 21 sacks for the Crimson Tide while playing alongside Hall of Famers Marty Lyons and Ozzie Newsome, and his 10 career forced fumbles are tied for the school record. Junior is enshrined in the Senior Bowl, State of Alabama Sports and State of Tennessee halls of fame.
Junior was the fifth overall pick in the 1981 NFL draft and a two-time Pro Bowl selection while playing with the St. Louis/Phoenix Cardinals from 1981 until 1988. He went on to play for the Miami Dolphins from 1989 until 1991, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1992 and the Seattle Seahawks from 1992 until 1993.
After retiring from the NFL, Junior became an ordained minister and entered into coaching. Junior coached linebackers for the Seahawks and had stints with the Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, Jacksonville Jaguars and Rhein Fire of NFL Europe. Junior also served as the head coach at Central State (Ohio) from 2009 until 2013. He later served as assistant and interim head coach at Delaware State.
Junior will join other Crimson Tide players in the College Football Hall of Fame including Cornelius Bennett (1983-1986), Johnny Mack Brown (1923-1925), John Cain (1930-1932), Harry Gilmer (1944-1947), John Hannah (1970-72), Dixie Howell (1932-1934), Pooley Hubert (1922-1925), Don Hutson (1932-1934), Lee Roy Jordan (1960-1962), Woodrow Lowe (1972-1975), Marty Lyons (1975-1978), Vaughn Mancha (1944-1947), Johnny Musso (1969-1971), Billy Neighbors (1959-1961), Ozzie Newsome (1974-1977), Fred Sington (1928-1930), Riley Smith (1933-1935) and Derrick Thomas (1985-1988).
The 2020 College Football Hall of Fame class will be officially inducted during the 63rd NFF Annual Awards Dinner on December 8, 2020, at the New York Hilton Midtown. Inductees will also be recognized in the fall at their respective collegiate institutions with NFF Hall of Fame On-Campus Salutes, presented by Fidelity Investments.