When the Baltimore Ravens arrived in 1996, there was no significant connection between the city and the University of Alabama. That changed pretty quickly.
The Ravens have selected 11 Alabama players in the NFL Draft (including this month’s cover athlete Marlon Humphrey) in their history, tied with Oklahoma for the most of any school. But the Alabama connection runs even deeper than that. It actually runs even further than just the Ravens.
Current Maryland football coach Michael Locksley, of course, had most recently been an assistant at Alabama before returning to College Park. Plus, more than a decade before iconic Alabama coach Paul “Bear” Bryant became the coach of the Crimson Tide, he spent a season as head coach at Maryland. And speaking of Alabama coaches, former Baltimore Colts center Bill Curry spent three seasons as head coach at Alabama in the late ‘80s.
But this month we take a look specifically at “The 15 Baltimore Sports Alabama Alumni.” There are more than you probably realize. (List is alphabetical.)
1. Ravens Cornerback Anthony Averett
The 2018 fourth-round pick has tallied 46 tackles and 11 pass defenses while playing 30 games during his first three NFL seasons. He also happens to be the nephew of former Ravens tackle Bryant McKinnie.
2. Ravens Center Bradley Bozeman (And His Wife Nikki)
Selected two rounds later than Averett in 2018, little was expected of the former Crimson Tide offensive lineman when he arrived in the NFL. But he quickly entrenched himself not only as a starter (and trusted with a position change this season) but as one of the more significant community figures in Ravens history. His work with the Bradley and Nikki Bozeman Foundation (Nikki is a former Alabama basketball player herself) has been so significant that he was named the team’s Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year nominee in 2020.
3. Former Ravens Defensive Lineman Terrence Cody
Cody received a ton of attention before being selected in the second round of the 2010 draft for reasons both good (high-level play for a national championship team) and bad (weight problems). He became a decent rotational player throughout five seasons in Baltimore, including the Super Bowl XLVII title team.
4. Ravens Cornerback Marlon Humphrey
Among on-field performers, this month’s cover athlete is probably the best Alabama alum in Ravens history. In just four seasons, he has already reached two Pro Bowls and added a first-team All-Pro nod in 2019. He has become one of the top cornerbacks in the league and is wildly popular among Baltimore fans thanks in large part to his social media presence.
5. Former Orioles Pitcher Tommy Hunter
Before reaching the big leagues, Hunter was once a second-team All-American for the Crimson Tide. He spent at least part of six seasons in Baltimore and is best known for the success he found after being converted to a reliever. Strike that. He’s best known for being able to hold at least six beer bottles at a time during various postseason celebrations.
6. Former Ravens Running Back Mark Ingram
The former Heisman Trophy winner played just two seasons in Baltimore. His 2019 campaign however won’t be soon forgotten, as he ran for more than 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns as part of the best offense in franchise history.
7. Former Ravens Linebacker Jarret Johnson
Before he was selected by the Ravens in the fourth round of the 2003 draft, “Double J” was the first two-time captain in Alabama football history. As a pro, Johnson was an exceptional edge setter. Throughout his nine seasons in Baltimore he tallied 20 sacks, three interceptions and two touchdowns. He was also, of course, one of the more popular players in franchise history thanks to his remarkably laid-back demeanor and regular media appearances.
8. Former Ravens Returner Cyrus Jones (Gilman)
Jones’ brief stint with the Ravens alone would not qualify him to make this list (although he was once AFC Special Teams Player of the Week after a punt return touchdown). But before he became a two-time national champion at Alabama, he was a spectacular two-way player for the Greyhounds. He was also a star on the basketball court during his prep career and a hoops teammate of current Orioles minor leaguer Ryan Ripken. (Ryan’s father, Cal, was once seen sitting next to Alabama coaching legend Nick Saban at a Gilman-Calvert Hall basketball game, which is a mad lib of a sentence.)
9. Former Ravens Tight End Terry Jones Jr.
Before being selected by the Ravens in the fifth round of the 2002 draft, Jones was a team captain for the Crimson Tide and actually started as a true freshman. In four seasons in Baltimore, he caught 50 passes for five touchdowns.
10. Former Colts Linebacker Barry Krauss
The sixth overall pick in the 1979 draft, Krauss’ time with the Colts was split evenly. He spent the first five years of his career in Baltimore (with seven fumble recoveries and one interception) and then stayed with the franchise for five more years in Indianapolis. He is best remembered for protecting Alabama’s 1978 national championship by tackling Penn State running back Mike Guman on fourth down inside the 1-yard line in the No. 1 vs. No. 2 Sugar Bowl matchup.
11. Former Ravens Running Back/Fullback Le’Ron McClain
A fourth-round pick in the 2007 draft, the two-time All-Pro made the most of his four seasons in Baltimore. Ravens fans will never forget his spectacular 82-yard touchdown scamper to ice away a win against the Cowboys in 2008, both the final touchdown in the history of legendary Texas Stadium AND the longest run by an opponent in the stadium’s nearly 40-year history. His cousin and fellow Alabama alum Rolando McClain was signed by the Ravens in 2013 but never played for the team.
12. Former Ravens Linebacker C.J. Mosley
Rather unfairly, Mosley’s five seasons in Baltimore were judged not only by the standard of being a 17th overall pick but also by being a bit of an heir apparent to Hall of Fame inside linebacker Ray Lewis. Mosley’s time in Baltimore was quite successful, including four All-Pro nods and four Pro Bowl selections. Before arriving in Baltimore, he was a two-time national champion and two-time All-American with the Crimson Tide.
13. Ravens Executive Vice President And Former General Manager Ozzie Newsome
And we’ve finally reached the reason the pipeline existed in the first place. Before his Hall of Fame career with the Cleveland Browns, Newsome was a College Football Hall of Fame tight end in Tuscaloosa. He has been a titanic figure there ever since, and his affinity for selecting players from his alma mater certainly helped to play a role in why he’d be enshrined in Canton as an executive with the Ravens had he not already been inducted as a player.
14. Former Colts Wide Receiver Ray Perkins
After a career at Alabama that included an All-American selection and two national titles, Perkins played five seasons in Baltimore, including the Super Bowl V championship. He’s best remembered locally for his 68-yard touchdown catch from Johnny Unitas in the 1970 AFC title game. He ultimately returned to Alabama as head coach from 1983-1986.
15. Former Ravens Linebacker Courtney Upshaw
Upshaw isn’t remembered for a lot during his four years in Baltimore after being selected in the second round of the 2012 draft. He did force a fumble in the first half of Super Bowl XLVII as the 49ers were approaching the Baltimore red zone that was recovered by Arthur Jones and set up the Ravens’ second touchdown of the game. He was an All-American and two-time national champion during his college career.
Former Orioles pitcher Wade LeBlanc, former Ravens cornerbacks Antonio Langham and Ralph Staten, former Ravens edge rusher Tim Williams and former Colts tight end Butch Wilson.
Photo Credits: Kenya Allen/PressBox