By Mike Goodson/Sports Correspondent
The Etowah County Sports Hall of Fame inducted four sports legends into the ranks of Etowah County’s finest on Saturday (Apr. 12) at Convention Hall in Gadsden. The 2014 class of Pat Adkison, Darryl Dunn, Mark Morrison and Brodie Croyle took its place with more than 100 past inductees.
Gene Patrick Adkison was born in Samson, Ala., in 1936. He attended public schools there for 12 years, graduating in 1954 from Samson High School. Adkison began his football career in 1951 and lettered his sophomore, junior and senior years. Adkison was named his team’s MVP in both his junior and senior years. He also lettered in basketball his junior and senior years.
Adkison excelled in baseball, leading the team in RBIs, home runs, runs scored and stolen bases in both his junior and senior seasons.
Adkison attended Sewanee Military Academy in Sewanee, Tenn., as a postgraduate in 1954-55 in an effort to get a scholarship to a major university.
Adkison attended Troy State on a football scholarship from the fall of 1955 until his graduation in November 1959. Adkison lettered his four years at Troy State and was a starter during his sophomore, junior and senior years. He led the Trojans in rushing his junior season, averaging 5.7 yards per carry.
Adkison then attended the University of Alabama graduate school, where he earned three degrees from January 1960 until May 1964. Adkison taught and coached in the high school system for three years, coaching football, baseball, basketball and wrestling before accepting a position at Gadsden State Junior College. He taught and coached at Gadsden State for 29 years, retiring in 1992. Adkison retired to devote more time to Amateur Softball Association of America (ASA), where he eventually became the ASA state director for 33 years and national director, a position he held four times.
While at Gadsden State, Adkison helped organize the school’s basketball and baseball teams. His GSCC tennis teams won 488 matches while losing only 138 and participated in 10 National Junior College Athletic Association tournaments. Adkison also organized the Cardinals’ varsity volleyball team, which defeated Alabama, Samford, Marshall and Tennessee.
Adkison began officiating sports while at Troy State, a career that included football, baseball, tennis, volleyball, wrestling and softball. He has worked in the NCAA Division ll College World Series and taught sports officiating to many students who later became officials. Adkison also wrote a local column related to officiating and the rules and mechanics of the game.
Adkison, who began his ASA umpiring career at Gadsden State in 1965, has served as the AASA State Commissioner and the ASA President four times. Through his efforts, many national and regional softball tournaments were brought to Alabama and brought millions of dollars to the state’s economy over the years.
Adkison is a member of the Alabama ASA Hall of Fame, the Central Alabama Sports Hall of Fame, the West Alabama Sports Hall of Fame, the Oklahoma ASA Hall of Fame, the Indiana ASA Hall of Fame, the Wire Grass Sports Hall of Fame and the National ASA Softball Hall of Fame. He was also associated with the United States Olympic Team for many years.
When the subject of great athletes from the Etowah County area comes up, one name is sure to be included from the 1970s.
Darryl Dunn was an outstanding football and basketball player for the Gadsden High Tigers and Litchfield Junior High Eagles. Dunn excelled in both sports and took outstanding ability to the Jacksonville State University basketball court.
Born in 1952, Dunn attended Litchfield Junior High School, where he was recognized as a natural athlete. Dunn was the Eagles’ basketball MVP in 1967 and 1968 and was recognized as a member of the Junior High School All-State Team in 1968. He was the MVP of the 1968 Capital Heights Junior High School Tournament and was a member of the Alabama Junior High All-Tournament Team in 1969.
In high school, Dunn was a three-time member of the all-region, Northeast Alabama High School Conference and Holiday All-Tournament basketball teams. He made the 1971 Birmingham Post Herald All-State and Alabama All-Tournament team. Dunn was voted the 1970 and ’71 GHS Team MVP, was the NEAC Best Lineman recipient in 1970 and was named the Outstanding Back in 1971.
After graduation from Gadsden High, Darryl attended Jacksonville State, where he was named the Gamecocks’ Co-MVP in basketball in 1972. Dunn was a member of the 1972 All-Gulf South Conference basketball team and the JSU team captain in 1976.
Following his days on the basketball court and the gridiron, Dunn has mentored countless others in various sports since his retirement. He continues to promote sports in the Etowah County area with his work with Little League basketball and group training for older athletes.
Born in Gadsden in 1961, Mark Morrison excelled at three youth sports while helping his teams win numerous Gadsden city championships and two Alabama state championships. While competing in youth sports, Morrison teams compiled a winning percentage of over 90 percent.
Morrison was a four-sport letterman at Gadsden High School and graduated in 1979 in the top 10 percent of his class. He received All-Region and All-State awards in football and baseball and was the captain of both the football and baseball teams. As a senior quarterback, Morrison passed for over 2,100 yards and led the state in punting with a 43.7 yard average. Morrison was also a point guard on Coach Gid Riddle’s “Magnificent Seven” region championship team.
After graduating GHD, Morrison attended UAB and played baseball for the Blazers. He led UAB in hitting in 1982 with a .462 batting average and Morrison hit a grand slam home run in his first collegiate at-bat. He was named an Academic All-American in 1982 and was drafted by the MLB St. Louis Cardinals in 1983.
Since his retirement, Morrison helped found the “Over The Mountain Touchdown Club” in Birmingham and is a major fundraiser for charities that annually award collegiate scholarships to high school athletes.
Brodie Croyle was born to Tee and John Croyle in 1983. John was an outstanding athlete at both Gadsden High School and the University of Alabama and was a 1994 inductee into the Etowah County Sports Hall of Fame. Brodie excelled in football at Westbrook Christian School, where he was an outstanding quarterback. He was a Super-Prep All-American in football and held the Alabama High School Athletic Association state records for career passing yards and career touchdowns. Croyle, who held records for most passing yards in a single game and touchdown passes in a game, also was an outstanding baseball and basketball player for the Warriors.
Upon graduation in 2001 Croyle signed a football scholarship with University of Alabama and won the Ozzie Newsome Most Improved Freshman, the Dixie Memorial, MVP and the Derrick Thomas Community awards during his career at the Capstone.
As a senior, Croyle led the Crimson Tide to a No. 8 national ranking and a victory in the Cotton Bowl, where he was voted the game’s MVP. Croyle was the runner-up for the 2004 Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award. He was featured in Sports Illustrated in 2005 and has had numerous national television appearances.
Following graduation from UA in 2005, Croyle went on to play professional football in the NFL. He was a starter and a backup quarterback with the Kansas City Chiefs from 2006-2010. He also played for the Arizona Cardinals in 2012.
Upon his retirement from football, Croyle returned to Etowah County to be the associate executive director of the Big Oak Ranch, Inc.