On a weekend where four HBCU players were drafted by NFL teams, and numerous others were able to sign free agent deals in hopes of making an NFL roster, the hot as “fish grease” transfer portal gained another marquee player when reigning SWAC Defensive Player of the Year Isaiah Land entered his name.
Land, who led all of college football last season with 19 sacks while also tallying 25.5 tackles for loss, also won FCS Defensive Player of the Year. In doing so the talented edge rusher also became the first Rattler and fifth HBCU player to take home the coveted award.
The loss of the redshirt senior would be devastating to a FAMU team that has SWAC championship and Celebration Bowl aspirations.
— Florida A&M Football 🏈 (@FAMU_FB) October 11, 2021
Rattlers head coach Willie Simmons talked about his star defender entering the portal.
“There are a lot of moving parts with the portal. We as coaches don’t have a hand in it. Right now we are in a fact-finding stage ourselves. Obviously, I would love for him to stay,” Simmons said.
Seeing just four players from HBCUs drafted over the weekend, combined with the ability to go to a school with more lucrative NIL deals, likely proved to be a huge factor in this sudden change of heart by Land. As recently as January, Land announced he’d be returning to Tallahassee for his final season of eligibility.
— Florida A&M Football 🏈 (@FAMU_FB) October 3, 2021
Land’s Decision Caused An Uproar From Deion Sanders
With Land’s decision coming just one day after watching 262 players get drafted, and only four coming from HBCUs, it evoked emotional responses from HBCU bigwigs such as Jackson State head coach Deion Sanders, who’s the led the charge for HBCU athletes to be given the same opportunities as Power Five student-athletes.
An animated Coach Prime said via Tweet:
“This is flat out wrong! You go in the portal because you don’t think you can go pro from a HBCU? Well a few went yesterday and over 20 went from FCS schools. Be the change that we all desire. Don’t run from the challenge. Willie Simmons is a GREAT COACH and does an amazing job with exposing his kids and preparing them. I pray he changes his mind and goes back to FAMU because ain’t no sure thang you’re gonna get the reps, exposure and recognition somewhere else. Just because it looks green, don’t mean it’s grass.”
Coach Prime is speaking some real truth, but in this new age of the portal and NIL deals, student-athletes are more likely to leave when a better situation arises because of the way NIL deals are being handled. With no boundaries set, and no real structure set in stone, things like this could become the norm.
There Won’t Be Any Shortage Of Suitors For Land’s Services
While Land is a slender 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, his ability to rush the passer and wreak havoc on opposing offenses can’t be understated. In 2021, between his 44.5 plays (sacks and tackles for loss) in the opponent’s backfield, teams lost a staggering 147 total yards (3.4 per play). He had five multi-sack games, including a five sack performance against MEAC and Celebration Bowl champion South Carolina State.
Rumors are Texas and Georgia are in heavy, and with the amount of money they’re able to help players get in NIL deals, it’ll be hard for FAMU to be get their best defender back on campus.