Spirit of Alabama: Former Tide player finds a higher calling

Twin Oaks Spirit

Finding your true purpose in life and doing what you were born for is something few achieve, but former University of Alabama player John Croyle and his son are some of the lucky ones.

Croyle was an All-SEC tight end who played for coach Paul W. “Bear” Bryant in the mid-’70s. His son Brodie Croyle played for the Crimson Tide from 2002 to 2005 as a quarterback.

Both were excellent players, and both had dreams of an NFL career. But that’s not the only passion they shared, because Big Oak Ranch was all Brodie ever knew.

“I literally went from the hospital to the ranch,” he said. “I mean it’s the only life that I ever knew and I make the joke, it wasn’t until I went to college that I realized that maybe not everybody grew up with this same life with as this many brothers and this many sisters as I did.”

Children who haven’t caught many breaks in life have the opportunity for a reprieve at the ranch. It’s a place where boys and girls can have love and a caring family.

John Croyle started Big Oak Ranch after his playing days were over. Brodie’s NFL dreams came true. But something was missing.

“I finally I sat my wife down and I said ‘Baby, I just feel like God’s calling us back to the ranch,’ ” he said. “And she just started crying. I was going man, this isn’t quite like I thought it was gonna go.”

What Brodie didn’t know what that his mother, his father, wife and others all hoped that day would come.

“She said me and your family have spent countless hours in prayer and countless hours in conversation for the past five years,” he said. “We knew it had to be on God’s time, we knew it had to be on yours, she said tell me when I’ll have us packed.”

That was nine years ago. Since then, hundreds of children have experienced the joy of being loved and cared for at Big Oak Ranch.

Recently, the organization dedicated their newest community: Twin Oaks, three beautiful homes paid for by donors that are already home to boys and girls who have never been cared for like they will be at the ranch.

“And I am most passionate about our children and for them to have an opportunity to see a different way of life, and it’s because I got to see Mom and a Dad live that out in front of me,” Brodie Croyle said. “And so to my parents and my family and my wife and the people that I work for, I’m eternally grateful.”

Twins Oaks will eventually have 10 homes, if God’s willing, Brodie Croyle said.

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Categories: Spirit of Alabama