*** Editor’s note: Story will appear in programs sold at the Alabama-Mississippi State game.
A familiar face will return to Bryant-Denny Stadium for tonight’s Alabama-Mississippi State game and will be recognized on the field for a significant achievement. Former Crimson Tide offensive lineman and assistant coach Sylvester Croom was selected as part of the 2022 College Football Hall of Fame Class, the National Football Foundation announced earlier this year.
Croom, a native of Tuscaloosa, was a standout center at Alabama from 1972-74 and helped the Tide to an impressive 32-4 record during his time on campus, a run that included three straight conference titles, three top-10 finishes and the 1973 UPI national championship. He was named a first-team All-SEC and All-America honoree in 1974, the same year he won the SEC’s Jacobs Blocking Trophy, which is annually award to the league’s top offensive lineman.
Croom spent one season in the NFL with the New Orleans Saints in 1975 before returning to his hometown to begin his coaching career. He served on Alabama’s coaching staff from 1976-86 under Crimson Tide head coaches Paul “Bear” Bryant and then Ray Perkins before moving on to the NFL from 1987-2003. Croom then made history as the SEC’s first African-American head football coach when he was hired at Mississippi State in 2004 and spent five years.
He returned to the NFL as an assistant coach before choosing to retire after the 2017 season. After coaching, Croom was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 2020, while the Tide’s spring “Sylvester Croom Commitment to Excellence Award” is named in his honor.
Now, he can add College Football Hall of Famer to his résumé. Croom is the 21st player in UA program history to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, joining Cornelius Bennett, Johnny Mack Brown, Johnny Cain, Harry Gilmer, John Hannah, Dixie Howell, Pooley Hubert, Don Hutson, Lee Roy Jordan, E.J. Junior, Woodrow Lowe, Marty Lyons, Vaughn Mancha, Johnny Musso, Billy Neighbors, Ozzie Newsome, Fred Sington, Riley Smith, Derrick Thomas and Don Whitmire.
The 2022 Hall of Fame class will officially be inducted during the 64th NFF Annual Awards Dinner on Dec. 6. The inductees will also be recognized at their respective collegiate institutions with NFF Hall of Fame On-Campus Salutes during the fall (today for Croom). Their accomplishments will forever be immortalized at the Chick-fil-A College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta.
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