As part of the celebration for being selected for induction into the College Football Hall of Fame, both Alabama and the National Football Foundation will salute former Crimson Tide E.J. Junior defensive lineman during Saturday's game against Tennessee.
Junior, who helped lead Alabama to two national championships under head coach Paul W. "Bear" Bryant, was elected in the Class of 2021.
“It’s not just an honor for me, it’s for all the guys, the coaches, the administration at the University of Alabama,” Junior told Tuscaloosa News after the announcement in March 2020. “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.”
Junior will accept a Hall of Fame plaque that will stay on permanent display at Alabama.
The 2020 and 2021 College Football Hall of Fame Classes will be officially inducted during the 63rd NFF Annual Awards Dinner Presented by Las Vegas, Dec. 7. Last year's event was canceled due to COVID-19.
“An imposing threat on the defensive line," NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell said. “We are thrilled to honor him at Bryant-Denny Stadium.”
A unanimous first team All-American in 1980, Junior was a finalist for the Lombardi Award and guided Alabama to consecutive national championships in 1978 and 1979 — Bryant's final national title.
The 1979 Crimson Tide squad went 12-0 and claimed the program's third-straight Sugar Bowl and SEC championships. Some still consider it the best Alabama team in history.
Junior lost only four games at Alabama, compared to 44 victories, including a 28-game winning streak from 1978-80. During that stretch, the Crimson Tide 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. His 10 career forced fumbles are still tied for the school record.
Junior has already been enshrined in the Senior Bowl, Alabama Sports and Tennessee halls of fame.
The fifth overall pick in the 1981 NFL Draft, Junior was a two-time Pro Bowl selection while playing with the St. Louis/Phoenix Cardinals (1981-88). He subsequently played for the Miami Dolphins (1989-91), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1992) and Seattle Seahawks (1992-93).
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 (Ohio) 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.