BIRMINGHAM – The doors of the Southwestern Athletic Conference Hall of Fame are poised to open as six greats will cross the threshold:
- Horace Crump, Alabama State
Steve McNair, Alcorn State
Willie J. Alexander, Alcorn State
Dr. James Brooks, Jackson State
Walter Nichols, Mississippi Valley State
Willie Ellison, Texas Southern
McNair will be inducted posthumously. Crump, Alexander, Brooks, and Nicholls were selected by the Legends Committee.
The Class of 2009 will be officially inducted into the SWAC Hall of Fame on Friday, December 11, at the Sheraton Hotel in Birmingham.
Horace Crump of Alabama State played football and ran track for the Hornets as a student-athlete from 1963-67, but made his mark as head coach of the cross country and track and field teams. He amassed 13 SWAC titles during an impressive run from 2001-2007 in which at least one of the cross country, indoor or outdoor women’s or men’s track teams won a Conference title for seven straight years. Crump’s women’s teams won 11 of those championships, including a three-peat in cross country (2005-07).
Steve McNair of Alcorn State was one of the most dominant players in the history of the SWAC. Among his many collegiate accomplishments, he was a four-time first team All-SWAC quarterback, three-time Sheridan Broadcasting Network Doug Williams National Offensive Player of the Year, three-time Sports Network All-American and the Sports Network Walter Payton National Player of the Year. As a senior, McNair finished third in the 1994 Heisman Trophy balloting. The third-overall selection in the 1995 NFL Draft by the then-Houston Oilers, McNair played 13 NFL seasons (11 with the Oilers/Tennessee Titans, two with the Baltimore Ravens), and lead his teams to five playoff appearances and guiding the Titans to the 1999 AFC Title and Super Bowl 34.
Willie J. Alexander, also of Alcorn State, was a defensive back for the Braves before moving on to the NFL’s Houston Oilers from 1971-1979. During that time, he registered at least one interception in all but one season of his career. As a rookie, Alexander made an immediate impact, playing in all 14 games and registering four interceptions. In 1977, he scored his first career touchdown on a 95-yard interception return. In 1978, Alexander made a career-best five interceptions.
Dr. Walter Nichols of Mississippi Valley State was a standout gridiron performer for then-Mississippi Vocational College from 1960-63. An offensive and defensive tackle, Nichols was the team MVP as a senior and earned first team all-conference honors at both positions. Playing for Hall of Fame Head Coach Doug Porter, Nichols led his team to the first winning season in school history. He is a 1985 inductee of the Mississippi Valley State Hall of Fame.
Willie Ellison of Texas Southern was a standout football and track performer for the Tigers in the mid-1960’s. As a senior, he set the then-school rushing record of 1,089 yards, a mark that stood for 20 years. He then went on to play eight NFL seasons (six with the Los Angeles Rams, two with the Kansas City Chiefs). A first-round pick of the Rams in the 1967 draft, Ellison rushed for a career-high 1,000 in 1971 and set the then NFL single-game rushing mark with 247 yards.
Dr. James Brooks of Jackson State was a three-sport athlete for the Tigers in football, baseball and track. Inducted into the JSU Sports Hall of Fame in 1985, Brooks had a career-best 98-yard kickoff return for touchdown on the gridiron as well as turning an unassisted triple play on the baseball diamond. A three-year letterman in both football and basketball, Brooks, called the ‘ultimate team player,’ later went on to serve as an assistant football coach at Alcorn State, as well as assistant athletic director and assistant head football coach at Albany State.