Nick Saban lauds Wilbur Jackson and John Mitchell's courage to be honored at A-Day

Nick Saban lauds Wilbur Jackson and John Mitchell's courage to be honored at A-Day ...

The two pioneers will be honored as part of Alabama's A-Day celebrations on Saturday. Nearly 50 years after Wilbur Jackson and John Mitchell crossed the color barrier of Alabama football.

Jackson, the Tide's first Black scholarship football player in 1970, and Mitchell, who in 1971 became the first Black player to appear in a game for the school, will have a plaque on the Bryant-Denny Stadium walk of champions. They will also be recognized at the halftime of Alabama's spring game.

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These guys were people who performed something that nobody else was really willing to do, which spawned so many opportunities, changed the lives of so many people, and changed the mind-set of a lot of others, coach Mark Saban said Thursday. It was a significant step in dividing the South.

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Jackson later became a captain of Alabama's 1973 national championship team and an All-SEC selection. Mitchell was a team captain and All-American in 1973 and joined Bear Bryant's staff as the school's first black coach.

Coach Bryant should be commended for his work to make the situation happen, according to Saban, adding that while demonstrating leadership in trying to assist those guys with difficulties that they had to overcome, I'm sure.

And they performed it in a first-class manner and in excellent manner, and God bless them and God loves them, because what they did has provided so many opportunities. I doubt you can even calibrate the importance of what they did.

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Both Jackson and Mitchell, both 70, are members of the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame. Mitchell served as Saban's defensive line coach for the Cleveland Browns in the early 1990s, and remains in the NFL as the Pittsburgh Steelers' assistant head coach.

Mitchell said of Saban: "He's a great human being and a great man. So is Wilbur."

Before Alabama's game kicks off at 2 p.m. CT, Jackson and Mitchell's plaque will be unveiled.

Mike Rodak, an Alabama beat reporter for the Alabama Media Group, has been posted on Twitter.

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