The NFL draft has come and gone, and for HBCUs it was a better finish this time around than the two previous years combined.
In all, four HBCU student-athletes got the call, but those fortunate few aren’t the only ones who’ll have a shot at making an NFL roster, as many others were signed to undrafted free agent deals, and they include record-breaking Alabama A&M quarterback Aqeel Glass. Glass may end up being the most memorable HBCU player who entered this draft, and he couldn’t have landed in a better spot.
The prolific gunslinger was signed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and will have an opportunity to learn under new head coach Todd Bowles, steadily rising offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, and GOAT Tom Brady.
Former Grambling State legend and Super Bowl XXII MVP Doug Williams knows a thing or two about being undervalued and overlooked as a Black quarterback from an HBCU. The current Washington Commanders executive said in an interview with HBCU Legends he’s excited for Glass.
“I don’t think he would be in a better place than with Todd Bowles and Brady. Tampa was a place, made in heaven for him.”
Joined NFL Live today to talk about three standout prospects from the @HBCULegacyBowl. It all starts with Alabama A&M QB Aqeel Glass.
There hasn’t been an HBCU QB drafted since Tarvaris Jackson in 2006. He has a chance to challenge that. pic.twitter.com/TIGMhMxfup
— Jordan Reid (@Jordan_Reid) February 21, 2022
Williams, who started his legendary NFL career back in the late ’70s with a much different Tampa Bay Bucs organization, also talked about the other HBCU players who received free agent mini-camp invites. And his hope for those who didn’t.
“It’s a step in the right direction,” Williams insisted. “I think there are a couple more that probably should have been drafted. I hope they all get a chance and got to somebody’s camp.”
Glass While Not Drafted, Was Pretty Coveted By Teams As A Free Agent
NFL dreams don’t end — and Hall of Fame jackets don’t get handed out — on draft day.
Teams didn’t see fit to draft the strong-armed Glass, but his phone rang pretty quickly following the draft. The two-time SWAC Player of the Year and Black College Football Player of the Year chose the Buccaneers offer over some others. A major appeal was the opportunity to learn from offensive mastermind Byron Leftwich and seven-time Super Bowl winner Tom Brady.
Alabama A&M QB Aqeel Glass (@Aqeel_Glass4) put together a really impressive spring. He heads into 2021 as arguably the best signal caller on the FCS level.
Size, plus arm strength, quick and decisive decision-maker, very intelligent. Impressive young man. pic.twitter.com/zZJ5UqS4NS
— Ryan Roberts (@RiseNDraft) June 6, 2021
Glass’ mom grew up in Washington, D.C., and she was in the area when the aforementioned Doug Williams led the old Washington Redskins to a Super Bowl win over John Elway’s Broncos in 1988.
For his efforts, Williams became the first Black quarterback to hoist a Vince Lombardi Trophy. His historic performance earned him MVP honors after tossing four touchdowns.
Life is full of twist and turns, and never did Glass think he’d end up at an HBCU with Williams serving as a mentor of sorts for the talented signal caller. But he’s glad he did. Even though an HBCU may not have been his first choice coming out of high school, it worked out extremely well.
Glass talked about that period of growth in a pre-draft interview.
“It wasn’t the first option for me, but it would end up being the best,” Glass said.
Glass Can Play In The NFL: His Skillset Translates Well
The 6-foot-4 230 pounder is in a perfect spot where he can be developed as a project and receive elite on-the-job training in the league. Glass is comparable to former Chargers and Colts gunslinger Philip Rivers.
Glass finished his career with the Bulldogs 14th in FCS career passing yards with 12,136 yards. He also tossed 109 touchdowns, good for 11th in FCS history. This past season he was unbelievable, passing for 3,588 yards, 36 touchdowns and just seven interceptions.
His 63 percent completion percentage is a bit misleading, considering how many intermediate to deep shots the Bulldogs offense calls every game. He’s a fearless QB who can push the ball downfield with the best of them.
While it’s Brady’s team as long he wants to play, Glass has more natural ability than both of the Bucs backups, NFL journeyman Blaine Gabbert and second-year player Kyle Trask. His arm is stronger and he’s more athletic. He just needs the reps and seasoning and there’s no doubt he could be the backup to Brady.
While he won’t get much PT his first few years; neither did Aaron Rodgers as he sat behind Brett Favre. But the Bucs will see soon enough how much talent the kid from St. Louis possesses. And no he isn’t a statue, pop on the tape and watch him do work in and out of the pocket.
Look for Aqeel Glass to eventually prove to be one of the steals of the 2022 rookie class.