Written by Howard University's Women Basketball Student-Athlete, Sarah Edmond.
Sarah is a Senior, Sports Management Major. Strategic, Legal, & Management Communication Minor from Long Island, New York.
There is a lot of pride and history when it comes to players from Historically Black Colleges and the NFL. Throughout history, they have been known to have a positive impact in regards to their individual careers, their team success, and their communities. There have been many amazing NFL players to come from HBCUs like Jerry Rice, Michael Strahan, Shannon Sharpe, and Steve McNair. However, It was disappointing seeing only one HBCU player being drafted in the 2020 NFL Draft. LaChavious Simmons, Tennessee State offensive linemen, was selected in the seventh round (277th overall) by the Chicago Bears. The last time there wasn’t a HBCU athlete picked until the seventh round was the 2004 NFL Draft.
Even though there will be more players being picked up on teams that will go undrafted, it can be argued that if HBCU players had the right platform, they could have the opportunity to change the game. Due to the Coronavirus, there was the cancellation of College Pro Days, private workouts, and the first ever 2020 HBCU Combine which left athletes unable to showcase their talents on larger platforms. Besides the invite only NFL Scouting Combine, the NFL allows athletes from smaller schools, FCS level schools and lower, to participate at FBS schools pro days. These pro days allow for athletes at smaller schools to have more exposure to the scouts and coaches that are in attendance. This could be the perfect opportunity for a lot of athletes that attend HBCUs. One great workout could get a player drafted or signed to an undrafted free-agent contract. HBCU Gameday reported that the HBCU combine had 51 potential participants in its roster, coming from schools throughout the MEAC and SWAC conferences this year.
In 2018, the top ranked high school football player, Kayvon Thibodeaux visited Florida A&M, in Tallahassee. A lot of the top recruits are starting to catch on and are seriously considering HBCUs in other sports as well. WIth their power and influence, they have the opportunity to force change. Ranked 10th overall by ESPN, Josh Christopher’s visit to Howard University last fall also helped change the narrative for some black recruits. Now athletes like Trace Young are only considering HBCUs when it comes to their recruitment. A lot of high school football recruits have the opportunity to change the perception of HBCUs . Student-athletes would bring much needed attention and money back to black colleges and universities.
Even though it is still a work in progress, HBCUs are becoming highly popular again. I could only imagine what would happen if more black recruits started considering HBCU Sports Programs.