Deion Sanders announced via his Instagram that he and Jackson State will host a combine that will also feature conference foes Mississippi Valley State and Alcorn State. It will take place on March 21 on the campus of JSU. Also expected to attend are athletes from Delta State and Mississippi College.
Sanders has questioned the lack of exposure given to HBCUs since he arrived in Jackson in 2020. The 2021 NFL draft produced zero HBCU draft picks, which marks the ninth time since 2000 there have been no players selected from HBCUs.
That number is unacceptable and definitely speaks to a plethora of talented, NFL-level players at HBCUs being overlooked. That streak is expected to end this season, but overall, HBCU players rarely get invited to the NFL combine or to Power Five schools to join their pro days.
So, Sanders is using his platform to bring NFL scouts to Jackson for a day to give HBCU athletes a chance to showcase their talent.
“I’ve heard from the NFL. Not only are they sending a plethora of scouts, but they’re sending the NFL cameras as well, because our kids deserve the same thing as the Power Fives.”
— Jeff Lightsy Jr. (@jlightsy7) February 17, 2022
Ever since Deion Sanders became the head coach at Jackson State, his focus has been on getting as many HBCU football players as he can in front of NFL scouts and drafted into the league. After no HBCU players were drafted in the 2021 NFL draft, Coach Prime said it won’t happen in 2022. The 2021 NFL draft tracker listed 460 draft eligible players, and only five were from HBCUs.
It was also the first time in over a decade that no players from HBCUs were drafted. A frustrated Sanders voiced his displeasure via an Instagram post.
“And we have the Audacity to hate on one another while our kids are being NEGLECTED and REJECTED. I witnessed a multitude of kids that we played against that were more than qualified to be drafted. My prayers are this won’t EVER happen again. Get yo knife out my back and fight with me not against me.”
Hall of Famer Deion Sanders says not one player from an HBCU was selected in the NFL Draft 😮🏈 pic.twitter.com/x65sw9Q3YD
— Kollege Kidd (@KollegeKidd) May 3, 2021
Sanders Believes The SWAC Has Plenty Of Draft Eligible Talent Despite It Being Said They Don’t
In a December interview with the Clarion-Ledger newspaper, Sanders talked about how NFL scouts and teams underestimate HBCU talent. Sanders mentioned that a high-ranking person from the NFL told him that the SWAC only had a handful of draft-eligible talent for the 2022 NFL draft.
“I was just told by a person with good ranking in the NFL that we only had six draftable players this year and that’s absurd. That’s idiotic. I played 14 years in the NFL and I worked another 14-15 in the NFL Network. So close to the owners, executives and television aspect of it. And I know talent when I see talent. Every weekend that I’m coaching on the sideline, not only the dogs that I have, I’m watching kids on opposing teams and they can flat-out play.”
#SWACNation As Fall Sports are set to get started, make sure you’re all set with an @ESPNPlus Membership to see all your favorite SWAC Teams in action 🏈 #BuildingChampionsForLife pic.twitter.com/UsBqjG4bB7
— Southwestern Athletic Conference (@theswac) August 14, 2021
“And you’re going tell me with my eyes, my sight, and my vision with my accolades that there’s one six players in the SWAC that are draftable? You’ve got to be crazy. If that happens we need to show up and show out. That’s absurd.”
Sanders Was Against Recent HBCU Combine: Feels It Doesn’t Help
Sanders, who was once a strong advocate for the HBCU combine, changed his tune in December. He wants the NFL to just add more spots to allow more HBCU players the opportunity to showcase their talents in Indianapolis. Originally planned for Miami, once Sanders changed his tune, it was moved to Mobile, Alabama, and took place on Jan. 28 and 29, one weekend prior to the Reese’s Senior Bowl.
In an interview with the Clarion-Ledger Sanders spoke on that very subject.
“They were going to allow 52 players I believe to come to that combine in Miami. We can allow 52 players to come to the combine in Indy. It’s only four or five players for each position or maybe six if I’m doing my math correctly. Why should we separate? Why should we be placed on another field where all the scouts aren’t coming, all the personnel’s not going to be there like they would normally be in Indy?”
NFL Combine: once more in Indy, then on the move https://t.co/6kf9F1KwG7
— Mike Chappell (@mchappell51) October 26, 2021
Sanders has suggested separate combines, and after being for the idea, he’s now adamantly against having it.
“We’ve got to stop the separatism, we really do. I get mad when I’m watching the channel that has us on Saturday. And you’re talking about all these bowl games, and you aren’t mentioning us? Just give us an honorable mention, give us something. I mean you’re talking about some schools that I ain’t even heard of. I ain’t heard of some of the schools.”
HBCU players deserve the opportunity to compete heads up with the best players at Power Five schools. To really see what’s what.
“These guys can play. And it’s my opportunity and my task to put the light on the mantel on top of the Christmas tree and allow it to shine, because these guys have tremendous gifts. They really do. They need an opportunity.”
Sanders just wants the HBCU athletes to be given a fair shake, and he won’t stop until they do. This pro day is another push toward securing that visibility and exposure needed to get players from HBCUs drafted.
The more opportunities given to showcase their talents in front of NFL personnel can only enhance the chances of players being drafted. Sanders isn’t just in this for JSU, he’s in it for the betterment of all of Black college football.
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