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Phillip Marshall: A winner goes triumphantly home

May 29, 2014

AUBURN, Ala. - Last Thursday, almost 21 years after he left to pursue his dreams, a winner went triumphantly home to Mobile.

Dameyune Craig, Auburn's co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach, won two state championships as a quarterback at Blount High School. He took an undermanned Auburn team to within a point of the Southeastern Conference championship in 1997. As an assistant coach, he was instrumental in building a national championship program at Florida State and in Auburn's drive to the BCS Championship Game last season.

But what happened Thursday night brought tears to Craig's eyes. He was inducted in the Mobile Sports Hall of Fame, joining the likes of Hank Aaron, Willie McCovey, Satchel Paige, Vince Dooley, Ed Dyas and a long list of former greats.

Craig was at Prattville High School checking on Auburn running back signee Kamryn Pettaway when he got the word that he was among the chosen ones.

"I'd never even thought about it," Craig said. "It never even crossed my mind. I just started crying like a little kid. It was such an honor."

Craig joined Willie Anderson, his teammate at Auburn. He followed Ben Harris, his high school coach who was inducted last year.

"It's such an honor just to be mentioned among those guys," Craig said. "I was so humbled because it was so unexpected."

Craig's journey began when he signed with first-year Auburn head coach Terry Bowden in 1993. He had to wait longer to start than he ever expected, but when he got his chance he rewrote the Auburn passing record book. He took a team with no running game to 10 wins in 1997, falling 30-29 to Tennessee in a shootout with Peyton Manning in the SEC Championship Game.

From there, Craig played four years as an NFL backup, spent a season as a graduate assistant at LSU and spent a season with the Miami Dolphins. He was a successful offensive coordinator at Tuskegee, helping the Golden Tigers to a 12-0 record and the 2007 black college national championship, and helped establish the South Alabama program. He was part of 31 victories in three seasons at Florida State. Through it all, his heart was in Auburn.

After Gus Malzahn took over as Auburn head coach in late 2012, Craig returned joyfully to his alma mater and helped engineer the greatest turnaround in college football history.

 "Auburn has been really good to me," Craig said. "Being able to come back and coach and doing the things we did last year is really special. Coach Malzahn has made the impossible possible. It's been such a blessing to be back here. I'm just humbled to be a part of this coaching staff."

Craig, who established himself at Florida State as one of the nation's top recruiters, has changed the recruiting landscape in Mobile. Three Mobile area players, including 5-star linebacker Tre Williams, signed with Auburn in February.

"Per capita, Mobile has had the most players drafted the last three years," Craig said. "That speaks volumes right there. We just have to make sure we keep our presence down there. Most importantly, the football has been very good for the players who have come to Auburn from Mobile."

It doesn't seem long ago that Craig was one of those players. And when he talks to the players of today, he talks with real passion about his school.

"I look so good in blue and orange," Craig said. "It really fits me. This place fits me. It's home. It never goes away."


Phillip Marshall is a Senior Writer for Follow Marshall on Twitter:




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