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HBCU's Talent-Rich For NFL Scouts
This USA Today columnist talks about how Historically Black Colleges & Universities - still - produce great NFL talent.
Historically black colleges and universities have produced two of the greatest players in NFL history — Jackson State running back Walter Payton and Mississippi Valley State wide receiver Jerry Rice.
Small schools, major players.
The Southwestern Athletic Conference’s 10 teams have produced as many draft picks as the 14 teams who played in the Division I-A Mid-American Conference. With 23 draft picks, Jackson State outnumbers I-A schools Kansas and Wake Forest.
Grambling and Southern hold their own with 19 and 16 selections, and NFL teams have drafted as many quarterbacks from Alabama State as Alabama since 1988.
While some HBCU players may have been overlooked coming out of high school, they are not overlooked in the draft. Tennessee State cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is a projected first-round selection Saturday.
“You have to tip your hat to the NFL,” Florida A&M coach Joe Taylor says. “If you have a player out there, they will find him.”
At the I-AA level, coaches don’t expect to get the top recruits, so they must rein expectations and amend their strategy.
“We’ve also found we’re getting a lot of late bloomers — guys who get a little bit bigger, a little bit stronger once they’re here,” Southern coach Pete Richardson says.
Taylor spent 16 years as the Hampton coach before accepting the Florida A&M job on Dec. 31. His strategy? Developing players when they join the team through a strength and conditioning program that mirrors the programs of top I-A schools.
He also maximizes exposure. The MEAC has a TV deal with ESPN. “That’s a great recruiting tool,” Taylor says.
At historically black schools, talent rich
By Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY