Blazing speed and sticky hands served Dennis Homan well.
But his most valuable asset?
During a close game against Mississippi State in 1965, Homan, a still largely anonymous sophomore, found himself standing on the sideline within earshot of Paul “Bear” Bryant. Far down the depth chart, he had never caught a pass in a varsity game, and few Alabama fans knew his name.
Homan tended to talk to himself in those days, so after noticing a vulnerability in the State defense, he blurted out, without realizing, “That cornerback can be beaten inside! He’s playing too far outside!”
Apparently recognizing the same weakness, Bryant grabbed Homan by the jersey, jolting him out of his trance. “Go in there and do it!”
After running onto the field and substituting himself for receiver Tommy Tolleson, Homan told quarterback Steve Sloan what he had seen—and how Bryant wanted to exploit the coverage. Moments later, Sloan faded into the pocket and drilled a bullet toward him, catching the cornerback, as expected, out of position.
“I was so wide open it looked like I was out to practice early,” said Homan, who has spent more than three decades as a medical salesman, living in the Florence area. “I remember watching the ball coming toward me like it was in slow-motion, thinking to myself: There’s no way you can drop this ball!”
After the 65-yard touchdown strike, which lifted the Crimson Tide to a 10-7 victory on way to the 1965 national championship, suddenly every Alabama fan knew Dennis Homan’s name.
“Looking back, it was probably a real good thing I didn’t know how to keep my mouth shut,” Homan said with a chuckle many years later, marveling at the intersection of nervous habit and history-altering opportunity.
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