Monday, September 06, 2004
By Jeff Dunnavant
UA Media Relations
Each year, the University of Alabama Alumni Association awards the Paul W. Bryant Alumni-Athlete Award to former Crimson Tide athletes who have made an indelible mark upon the program since graduation. Past recipients of the award with football connections include John Croyle, Don Hutson and Bart Starr. The 2004 recipients have given back to their alma mater in numerous ways and now the Alabama Alumni Association is pleased to recognize them for their contributions at today's game.
Jeremiah Castille is no stranger to Tide fans and was a fan favorite during his time on the gridiron at the Capstone. Castille was a four-year letterman and part of the 1979 National Championship team. He was also named the most valuable player of the 1982 Liberty Bowl, Coach Bryant's final game. In Castille's junior and senior seasons of 1981 and 1982 he led the Tide in interceptions while earning All-SEC honors both seasons. In 1982, Castille was named to the All-American team. To this day he still ranks second on Alabama's all-time interceptions list with 16 and in 2000 was honored to be named to Alabama's All-century team.
Following his days at Alabama, Castille played six seasons in the NFL, first for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1983-86) then for the Denver Broncos (1987-88). From 1995 to 2002 Castille worked as an assistant coach at Briarwood High School where he helped lead the Lions to two Class 3A state championships.
But perhaps Castille's greatest mark has been made since his playing day ended. In 2001 he founded the Jeremiah Castille Ministries, an organization that specializes in ministering to inner-city youth through sports, and has had a great impact on those he has reached. Sons Tim and Simeon, current Alabama football players, both agree that their father has been a huge influence in not only their lives, but in the lives of many other children as well.
"My dad has definitely had a positive influence on myself and Tim and then so many people outside our family," said Simeon Castille. "But it's been a whole lot more than football. If you go to my house right now, there's no telling who he's there ministering to."
Prior to starting his ministry, Castille served in the church laity and is an ordained minister. In 2002, Castille served a short stint as Director of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes at Alabama.
William E. "Bill" Sexton is a 1954 graduate of the University of Alabama with a B.S. in Education and in 1958 he furthered his education at Alabama with a Master of Arts degree. During his time at the Capstone, Sexton was a member of both the men's basketball and tennis teams.
However, since leaving the University he has become one of the most prominent self-made business men in Alabama and has been involved in numerous civic activities. In 1969 Sexton helped create the Industrial Development Association, an arm of the Decatur Chamber of Commerce, in an effort to attract new businesses to the area. In the mid-70's Sexton asked to join the University's President's Cabinet so that he may have the chance to give back and help his alma mater. He has also served as a member of the John C. Calhoun College Foundation, as Board Chairman of the Decatur Utility Board and Director of the Decatur Chamber of Commerce. All the while, Sexton and wife Patricia have raised two children, Tricia and Britt, who both graduated from Alabama.
In 1994 Sexton decided to make a more direct impact at the University of Alabama, both in athletics and academics. Along with his son, Britt, he established the William E. Sexton Endowed Scholarship in Education.
"I reflect back on the importance of athletic scholarships," said Sexton. "That was my only chance to go to college. They gave me the opportunity to grow into a man. So, 10 years ago I established the William E. Sexton Endowed Scholarship in Education and now, five to 10 students receive scholarship money each year."
In 2002 he donated $300,000 to the Crimson Tradition Fund to upgrade athletic facilities. In his eyes, Sexton's gifts to the University are giving other young men and women the chance to grow into great people in the same way he was given that opportunity.
"Because I felt I owed the University something for my athletic scholarship, we are currently in the middle of a Crimson Tradition pledge to upgrade athletic facilities," said Sexton.