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Proven in Millington and Memphis, Cross takes on NFL challenge in Tampa

By Thomas Sellers Jr.

Alan Cross chats with DeAngelo Alan Cross Memphis backdrop Alan Cross Tampa Bay 7-7As several area prep football players walked the Billy J Murphy Athletic Complex June 25, many pointed at Memphis Tiger legend DeAngelo Williams.
Williams these days plays running back for the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers and he was in town recently for the 2016 Phenomenal Pros Football Camp at his alma mater The University of Memphis.
While the young athletes were amazed by the presence of Williams, the all-time leading running back at The U of M was star struck by one football player also attending the camp.
Williams spotted Memphis’ all-time leading tight end Alan Cross.
“You’re that tight end?” Williams said to Cross. “You’re the man who has been making some noise lately. You’ve been getting out there.”
Williams was referring to Cross’ Tiger teams winning the 2014 American Athletic Conference title and 2014 Miami Bowl. The elder Tiger even mention Cross sporting a bloody forehead after a pregame celebration and taking a punch from a BYU player starting the brawl heard around the world.
Cross shared a laugh with Williams before the two talked about Tiger Football and the camp.
Then Williams gave Cross some advice as he starts his NFL career with the Tampa Bay Bucaneeers. Cross reported to camp in Tampa as a rookie free agent in middle of May. He finally returned home on June 23.
“It’s kind of like it was back at Memphis and how I started at Memphis,” Cross said. “I was too slow and all those same things. But it’s a good process down there. I’ll have to earn my spot for sure. Whatever happens down there, I’m just blessed to have this opportunity.”
Cross will report back to Bucs’ camp in late July trying to earn a position either on special teams, a longsnapper, fullback, tight end or as he said, waterboy.
Back in high school, Cross was a standout for the Millington Trojans as a long-snapper and tight end earning All-Region honors. He was selected the 2011 Millington Star Male Athlete of the Year.
Then he walked onto the Memphis Tiger Football team for then Head Coach Larry Porter. Justin Fuente took over and Cross blossomed under his guidance.
The Millington product helped the Tigers win 10 games in 2014 and Memphis started 8-0 in 2015 earning a national ranking.
Cross finished his Tiger career with 1,050 receiving yards on 90 catches and 14 touchdown receptions.
Now Cross is trying to earn a shot in the NFL with the upcoming Tampa Bay Bucs.
“To be able to speak to Mike Evans, Jameis Winston, Vincent Jackson, Clinton McDonald and players like that, ‘I’m on the same team as you guys?’” Cross said. “‘I was just watching y’all on TV.’ It’s a pretty cool experience.”
Being part of the NFL experience, Cross has set in rookie symposiums and absorbed the knowledge of veterans.
“Mostly it’s become a man,” he said. “I’m learning how to deal with my money regardless if you’re in the NFL or not. It’s making a budget. Becoming a community leader like DeAngelo. He comes back and you look at him saying, ‘I don’t remember him doing anything stupid outside of football. He lives pretty straight.’
“It’s the things you put on social media,” Cross added. “It’s about becoming a man in the community, on the field and in life.”
Cross hopes his life will include years in the NFL. And the Millington native said he wants the sharing of his story with upcoming prep standouts will inspire them.
“It’s really a blessing to be able to preach to these kids, ‘No matter what, hard work pays off,’” he said. “If somebody doubts you, just prove them wrong. I had a lot of people doubt me just to be able to play D-I football. T
“They said I couldn’t do it. Now I’m putting on a Tampa Bay Buccaneers helmet,” Cross concluded. “Things like that are just an eye-opener. It says you made it and no matter what anybody says, don’t stop chasing your dreams.”

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