National Signing Day has evolved into one of the worst spectacles of commercialism and exploitation associated with American sports.

Universities, recruiting websites, fanatics and us, the media, have combined to create an atmosphere which allows impressionable young athletes to be celebrated as nothing more than currency to be used by corporations to amass riches off the promise of their unique talents.


The annual pomp and circumstance event also is a sobering reality check for HBCU football programs.

The best prep football players — the 5-star kids — the ones who make up top 10 FBS recruiting classes nationally, have seemingly been beyond the reach of black colleges since full-fledged desegregation was finalized a half-century ago.

But what does it say when a non ESPN 300 recruit won’t even consider an HBCU?

That is where Georgia high school quarterback K’Hare Lane comes in.

The 6-foot, 230-pound senior passer put up record numbers at Macon County High School where he threw for a state record 56 touchdowns en route to leading the football program to a state championship.

But, Lane’s gaudy numbers were not good enough to earn him an FBS scholarship offer that he feels he deserved.

“From California all the way down to Mississippi,” Macon County head coach Dexter Copeland told the Bleacher Report as part of a profile on Lane. “The FCS schools have taken a look at him. Junior college coaches are telling him that he can come there for a year, and they’ll get him the offer that he wants. And that’s basically it.”

Those FCS schools happen to be current black national champion Grambling State, Southern, Hampton, Savannah State and Division II HBCU Morehouse.

These schools have produced NFL talents and even Pro Football Hall of Fame members.

Lane’s decision not to sign a national letter of intent with an HBCU — even the elite football schools — reinforces the damaging idea that black colleges are somehow inferior to predominantly white institutions.

There are countless first and secondhand accounts of coaches and parents brazenly believing that their sons and players are too good for HBCUs. That their abilities should not be wasted or risked in environments not conductive to the same respect found in college towns like Ann Arbor, Michigan, Stillwater, Oklahoma or Athens, Georgia.

It is also problematic that an HBCU is seen as a steppingstone on the road to possible glory at the FBS level.

To this day, black colleges, especially the athletic programs, have to fight the perception of being sports wastelands.

K’Hari Lane is a by-product of a time where the value of an athlete is assessed by glorified emojis, only a small group of institutions determines a young man’s self-worth, and the reputation of HBCUs is a last resort.

This is on us, too. We’re accomplices in constructing Lane’s mentality that the only way to true success doesn’t go through a black college near you.

About The Author

Kendrick Marshall
Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor for HBCU Sports, award-winning journalist, and a graduate of Jackson State University.

20 Responses

  1. Julius Coxswain

    SMH. This kid is not getting the guidance he needs. I really hope someone lets him know he needs to humble himself and play for a school that actually wants and values his talent.

    Reply
    • James Latimore

      Actually his only two visits were to HBCUs. You can’t believe everything you read cause the author didn’t take the time to contact the kid or his coach. I should know I Ann his coach

      Reply
      • Julius Coxswain

        It is unfortunate that you are so in your feelings about this situation that you think folk on this board, including the author, are attacking this kid. I know I am not. The truth of the matter is, he has not accepted any of the HBCU offers and he is, for whatever reason, waiting around for an FCS offer that probably isn’t coming. IF you are his coach, you should encourage this young brother to enroll at an HBCU and prove all his doubters wrong.

    • Virgil Crawford

      Two of Auburn University’s best ever QBs first went to schools where they would either never started [played first team] or never played QB. I’m referring to Cam Newton going to Florida and Nick Marshall going to Georgia as a defensive back. They both had to leave their first schools for various reasons and these were blessings in disguise for the young men “and” Auburn. These days if an “athletic” kid that’s a QB in high school wants to be a QB in college maybe it’s best for him to consider going the HBCU route because there most probably won’t be any “racial prejudice” against him playing the position he loves.

      Reply
  2. James Latimore

    What is your basis of your article? Did you contact the kid or his coach to find out the TRUTH? Piss poor article. Where do you get the right to put a kid down you didn’t take the time to talk to?

    Reply
      • Mary Howard

        I am a proud graduate of Grambling State University. “Silence speak volumes!” It’s apparent of this “misguided” young athletes’ mindset. If there was a genuine interest by a SEC and or Pac12 university academically or athletic, he should have been observed during his junior and senior high school seasons. There are several prominent HBCU institutions expressing an interest, yet either the parents, coaching staff, and or the young man himself are holding out for “any” so call ivy league school to express an interest? The table is turned. Perhaps non HBCU institutions do not desire his proven ability just as much as he does not desire to attend an HBCU. Whether as a walk on or eventual recruit to a non HBCU. He will ride the pine with his talent, which will crush his ego. He will later regret and humble himself to gain an offer from “any” HBCU. Experience is the best teacher.

  3. teddy

    Have you been to a D1 athletic department? You can place most HBCU facilities in their locker rooms. It’s a sports decision not a self worth decision. Players want to be on tv and play in major bowls. Small non HBCU feel the same thing. It’s a recruiting issue. I went to a instate school across the tracks from a HBCU and my friends at the HBCU school program was less than my HS. And they use to be a powerhouse back in the days.

    Reply
    • Julius Coxswain

      Your comment makes no sense within the context of this article. No one is saying Blue Chip athletes should not go to major schools. This Lane kid is clearly not one of those athletes because he would have FCS offers if he was. Yes, HBCU need to step up their facilities and year-round giving. Those things have nothing to do with this case. This young brother’s talent level and physical tools make him perfect for the FCS and DII level. It is unfortunate that he thinks otherwise. He has plenty of time to refine his skills and make it to the NFL.

      Reply
    • Adrienne Miller

      WE know that more funds are filtered into those schools, but I’m thinking the issue is he hasn’t been OFFERED to play with one of those teams that are on TV!! So he can hold out but he better hopes that the offers that he has will STILL be there.

      Reply
    • maury

      So i guess games like the magic classic, florida classic, bayou classic, meac-swac challenge, celebration bowl, swac championship, etc, are all too small? Or would rather go play for saban and spend 3 years on the pine b4 he sees the field?

      Reply
    • TigerNatl

      You’re correct and there are just as many Non-HBCU colleges with smaller stadiums and facilities than high school stadiums and facilities.

      Reply
  4. George L. Steele

    Much respect to Coach james Lattimore. That aside, I do feel for HBCUs is the general sense when it comes to these issues. IMO opinion, I respectfully think that it is on the HBCUs to step up their game, whether it is through alumni giving or courting Jay Z for donations. I’m not saying it is easy. But that is what they need to do IF they care about not being attractive to athletic talent (not that that is the necessarily the case here per Coach). In other words, they have to compete if they want to win, just like the athletes.

    Reply
  5. Elvin

    The article in opinion was spot on! I have been saying this for years if more players would consider HBCU’s the playing field would start to level out some. I agree a lot of parents and coaching staffs are misguided when it comes to giving advice about schools for athletes. I’m coach myself and I feel HBCU’s would start to put money in their facilities if those players would attend and help generate the revenue needed to do so. We have to get to a point in this society where we stop thinking “because its white its better.” We have instill in our youth that being with your own is not bad or not a great opportunity. It seems to me his mindset is ill wait and holding out to see if an FCS school comes calling and not take an HBCU offer because the opportunity isn’t big enough. smh#luvmyhbcu #HBCUistherightway

    Reply
  6. Cbo

    I think all our black athletes should go to a HBCU. Not to long ago the SECs , ACCCs, PAC10s and etc, didn’t wont us. Now they are making billions off our black athletes. If just a few top 10 blue chippers attend a HBCU, that will start a trend.

    Reply
  7. TigerNatl

    This kid played football in Macon which is near HBCU Forty Valley and have produced NFL draft picks and super bowl players within the past 3 to 5 years. HBCU Albany State a few hours away a few weeks ago had a DT that participated in the NFL Colligate Bowl game and received good reviews from the scouts and analyst and held his own against D1 opponents in that game.

    Basically the power 5 D1 conferences receive the majority of 4 and 5 star recruits, the remaining non-power 5 D1 conferences and FCS get the remaining players. Most football athletic programs are in the red or barely breaking even. This is nothing new.

    Tenn State Univ is a good example of an HBCU program with good athlethic facilities i.e. an indoor practice facility and they play some of their home games at an NFL stadium. BTW Tenn State is the only HBCU in their conference with draft picks the past 5 years. Last year they were the only team in their conference with NFL draft picks and they had 2 last year and looks like they will also have 2 this year.

    Contrary to popular belief there’re plenty of HBCUs with decent facilities but if a kid want to attend a school because there’s a barbershop and game room inside the athletic facilities etc., then go for it.

    Lastly, there’s a significant amount of 4 and 5 star recruits that transfer from D1 programs every year and the majority end up transferring to an FCS school whether it’s an HBCU or Non HBCU FCS school

    Reply

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