First he had to wait a long time to get in.
Then former Alabama defensive end E.J. Junior had to wait a little longer.
But Tuesday evening, he's finally becoming part of the College Football Hall of Fame.
When Junior found out he was being enshrined (by receiving the ceremonial football in the mail) he first thought was "Finally" as it took a while due to the backlog of Crimson Tide candidates, plus an extra year for the ceremony due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He's part of the Class of 2020. It and the 2021 class are officially being inducted during the 63rd NFF Annual Awards Dinner Presented by Las Vegas at the ARIA Resort & Casino Las Vegas (9 a.m. CT, ESPN3). Last year's event was canceled.
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.
In winning College Football Hall of Fame coach Paul W. "Bear" Bryant's final national title, Junior and the 1979 Crimson Tide squad went 12-0 and claimed the program's third-straight Sugar Bowl and SEC championships.
Junior lost only four games at Alabama as the Crimson Tide posted an astounding 44-4 record, including a 28-game winning streak from 1978-80, and never finished 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 has already been enshrined in the Senior Bowl, State of Alabama Sports and State of Tennessee halls of fame.
“It’s not just an honor for me, it’s for all the guys, the coaches, the administration at the University of Alabama,” Junior said. “They put me in a position to be successful.”
Junior became an ordained minister after retiring from the NFL while also entering the coaching ranks. He started out as a linebackers coach with the Seahawks and had stints with the Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, Jacksonville Jaguars and Rhein Fire of NFL Europe.
After time as an assistant at Southwest Baptist (MO), Junior served as the head coach at Central State (OH) from 2009-13, and he was later an assistant and interim head coach at Delaware State. He is currently the defensive coordinator at Middletown High School in Ohio.
The 2020 College Football Hall of Fame Class:
- Lomas Brown – OT, Florida (1981-84)
- Keith Byars – RB, Ohio State (1982-85)
- Eric Crouch – QB, Nebraska (1998-2001)
- Eric Dickerson – RB, Southern Methodist (1979-82)
- Glenn Dorsey – DT, LSU (2004-07)
- John Elliott – OT, Michigan (1984-87)
- Jason Hanson – PK, Washington State (1988-91)
- E.J. Henderson – LB, Maryland (1999-2002)
- E.J. Junior – DE, Alabama (1977-80)
- Steve McNair – QB, Alcorn State (1991-94)
- Cade McNown – QB, UCLA (1995-98)
- Leslie O'Neal – DT, Oklahoma State (1982-85)
- Anthony Poindexter – DB, Virginia (1995-98)
- David Pollack – DE, Georgia (2001-04)
- Bob Stein – DE, Minnesota (1966-68)
- Michael Westbrook – WR, Colorado (1991-94)
- Elmo Wright – WR, Houston (1968-70)
- Coach Dick Sheridan – 121-52-5 (69.4%); Furman (1978-85), North Carolina State (1986-92)
- Coach Andy Talley – 258-155-2 (62.4%); St. Lawrence [NY] (1979-83), Villanova (1985-2016)
The 2021 College Football Hall of Fame Class:
- Harris Barton – OT, North Carolina (1983-86)
- David Fulcher – DB, Arizona State (1983-85)
- Dan Morgan – LB, Miami [FL] (1997-2000)
- Carson Palmer – QB, Southern California (1998-2002)
- Tony Romo – QB, Eastern Illinois (1999-2002)
- Kenneth Sims – DT, Texas (1978-81)
- C.J. Spiller – RB/KR, Clemson (2006-09)
- Darren Sproles – RB, Kansas State (2001-04)
- Aaron Taylor – OT, Notre Dame (1990-93)
- Andre Tippett – DE, Iowa (1979-81)
- Al Wilson – LB, Tennessee (1995-98)
- Coach Rudy Hubbard – 83-48-3 (63.1%); Florida A&M (1974-85)
- Coach Bob Stoops – 190-48-0 (79.8%); Oklahoma (1999-2016)
We'll have more on Junior's enshrinement, plus video of the full interview he did from this week's festivities later this week.