Historically Black Colleges and Universities have fielded numerous Pro Football Hall of Famers from Walter Payton to Michael Strahan and Jerry Rice. Now the next generation of gridiron greats will get an additional look at potentially being drafted into the NFL.
The Reese’s Senior Bowl, in collaboration with the NFL is set to hold the HBCU Combine in Mobile, Alabama in February 2022. Select players from four major HBCU conferences including the CIAA, MEAC, SIAC and SWAC as well as other HBCU institutions will be invited to participate.
The HBCU Combine was originally set to take place in 2020 during the 2020 Senior Bowl but was postponed due to the pandemic.“The Reese’s Senior Bowl is honored to be collaborating with the National Football League to host the inaugural HBCU Combine in Mobile, Alabama,” Reese’s Senior Bowl executive director Jim Nagy said in a statement. “Over the years, the Senior Bowl has served as a showcase for some of the top Black college football players in America, including seven of our game’s 56 future members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and this event will help many more HBCU players secure further attention and exposure from all 32 teams.”
The desire for HBCU talent to be given a greater chance to be drafted was amplified last month by Jackson State head coach and Pro Football Hall of Famer Deion Sanders. After no HBCU players were drafted in the 2021 NFL Draft, Sanders took to Instagram to voice his displeasure.
“And we have the Audacity to Hate on one another while our kids are being NEGLECTED & REJECTED. I witnessed a multitude of kids that we played against that were more than qualified to be drafted,” Sanders wrote on May 2. “My prayers are that This won’t EVER happen again. Get yo knife out my back and fight with me not against me!”
In March, the Black College Football Hall of Fame announced a postseason bowl specific for the best NFL Draft-eligible talent called the HBCU Legacy Bowl. The game is set to take place at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans the Saturday after Super Bowl LVI and will be broadcasted on the NFL Network.
“The HBCU Legacy Bowl means opportunity and exposure for HBCU players and coaches,” Black College Football Hall of Fame co-founder and inductee Doug Williams said. “We’re excited to have this in New Orleans, especially during Black History Month.”