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EDITORIALS

Just One HBCU Player Was Drafted In The 2023 NFL Draft

The African-American kids who attend PWIs to play football are better than the African-American kids who play football for HBCUs? The 2023 NFL Draft ended this past weekend and out of the 259 players selected, there was only one from an HBCU.

What is the issue with the kids at HBCUs being constantly ignored by the NFL? Yes, maybe some will be picked up as undrafted free agents but that’s not the same as having their names called on ESPN, Thursday, Friday, or Saturday. For those HBCU players, there will be no Draft Party being held at home because they already know and understand the politics of it all.

Following the Draft, former Jackson State University coach and now head coach at the University of Colorado, Deion Sanders spoke about the injustice regarding the lack of HBCU players being drafted.

So proud is you @isaiahbolden23 You deserved to be drafted much higher but I’m truly proud of u,” he wrote. “I know how much u want this. I’m ashamed of the 31 other @nfl teams that couldn’t find draft value in ALL of the talented HBCU players & we had 3 more draft worthy players at JSU

Deion coached Boden while at Jackson State. And while he may feel some pride, it’s still the fact that other were snubbed. Looking back, it’s always been like this in the NFL. Although there have been success stories coming out of HBCUs with players like Water Payton, Shannon Sharpe, Michael Strahan, Mel Blount, Jerry Rice, and more.

In 2022, there were just 4 HBCU players selected in the entire draft. And many expected that number to grow this year but it went the opposite direction.

  • Fayetteville State CB Joshua Williams (fourth round, No. 135 overall, Kansas City Chiefs)
  • South Carolina State CB Cobie Durant (fourth round, No. 142 overall, Los Angeles Rams)
  • Jackson State LB James Houston (sixth round, No. 217 overall, Detroit Lions)
  • Southern G Ja’Tyre Carter (seventh round, No. 226 overall, Chicago Bears)

This is not to take anything away from the kids at Alabama, UCLA, Georgia, and the other Power 5 schools but there are also over 20 HBCUs in Division 1, so to say they’re not getting proper exposure is nonsense. And to further that point, there’s been an HBCU Combine where teams were invited to scout the talent. At this point, it’s up to the kids to showcase their skills but can we honestly say that a player like Shedeur Sanders is so far behind Stetson Bennett (Georgia) or Max Duggan (TCU) talent-wise who were both drafted this year?

Is there not a dynamic RB at an HBCU whose skills and numbers match up with Zach Evans who was drafted in the 5th round by the Los Angeles Rams? On the flip side of that coin is Jarveon Howard who rushed for 1270 yards on 253 carries and scored 12 TDs for Alcorn State (HBCU). But he wasn’t selected in the NFL Draft. 

These players share similar numbers but not similar opportunities. TV ratings play a huge role in all of this as well. But to keep ignoring these great players because they may attend a smaller school that’s not as well known as the bigger ones is an injustice. 

It’s as if the NFL is telling these HBCU players not to attend Shaw University, Howard, NC A&T if they have dreams of the NFL. It’s not fair one bit to any of these players when placed on a field with Heisman hopefuls, could pretty well hold their own. It’s time to start looking at our HBCUs as foundations for NFL success stories. 

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