By Thomas Sellers Jr.
While the best college football players in America were focused on the happenings of the 2019 NFL Draft in Nashville, about 300 miles down I-40, Alan Cross was enjoying a night watching his cousin Hannah Clifton play her Senior Night softball game for the Millington Lady Trojans.
A few weeks ago, Alan Cross announced his retirement from the NFL after playing three season with the Tampa Bay Bucs.
“I’m glad to be back home,” he said. “I’m glad to be back in the state of Tennessee. I finally retired. I hung them up for good. I am 98 percent sure. I would have to gain all the weight back and that stuff. But I am going into coaching. I’ve always wanted to do that.”
The 2011 Millington Central High School graduate earned a scholarship at The University of Memphis after being a walk-on tight end. After setting records for his position with the Tigers, Cross was an undrafted free agent with the Bucs.
Now the 2011 The Millington Star Male Athlete of the Year is a Graduate Assistant with the offensive line working with coach Ryan Silverfield for Head Coach Mike Norvell’s staff.
Cross was an AutoZone Liberty Bowl High School All-Star while playing for the Millington Trojans playing alongside other standouts like Demetre “RockHead” Jones.
Then it was off to Memphis where Cross helped fellow NFL player Paxton Lynch shine. The Tigers reached multiple bowl games during Cross’ tenure.
The next level was the NFL where Cross formed many lasting bonds.
“What I’m going to miss the most, I would say the guys,” he said. “You’re going to miss meeting guys from California, Nebraska, all different types of places. Those guys are all brothers no matter where you came from. Ryan Fitzpatrick was one of my best friends down there along with Adam Humphries. Those are two totally different guys along with Russell Shepard.”
Now that his playing days are behind him, Cross is ready for the next chapter in his football life.
“I want to give back to the kids and help guide guys like me get to where I got to, things like that,” he said. “I want to work for the kids. I’ve always wanted to do the mind side of football, play the mind games. I was ready to go.”
Cross didn’t play a single down for Norvell, with him taking over the coaching duties at Memphis after Justin Fuente’s departure to Virginia Tech. When Norvell got news Cross was interested in coaching, he provided him with a chance.
“I love the opportunity and I really do appreciate it to come back to my alma mater and give back to some of the guys I’ve played with,” Cross noted. “I’m coaching some of those guys. It’s a little weird but it a part of it I guess.”
Cross said he will bring his same approach of hard work, dedication to the game and trying to perfect his craft on a daily basis to coaching. He also plans to find time to take care of his family, friends and hometown.
“I want to be viewed as a guy who stays around and who stays involved,” he concluded. “This is my first time being back. Right now I would have been down there doing minicamps. This is really the first taste of it. So I definitely want to be involved in Millington and giving back. Not only to the kids but to the community always giving back to make it better.”