There is a little more than a month until the NFL Draft and for Deion Sanders, there is no excuse that an HBCU player shouldn’t have his name called.
“You ball you get the call. I’m expecting a few of y’all to get the call,” Sanders said during Pro Day held at Jackson State which included Mississippi-based draft-eligible football players. “There’s no way we’re going another year without a player from HBCU getting drafted. That’s a lie.”
The statement comes nearly a year after not a single football player representing an HBCU was selected during the 2021 NFL Draft.
Also read: HBCU football players were shutout during the NFL Draft in 2021. The reasons for that varied, scouts and analysts say
It was the first time since 2009 that dubious distinction had occurred.
Shortly after the draft, Sanders made it clear he was not happy with the outcome.
“I witnessed a multitude of kids we played against that were more than qualified to be drafted,” Sanders wrote on Instagram last May. “My prayers are that this won’t EVER happen again.”
In the 11 months since the NFL Draft, there have been concerted efforts by Sanders and others to cast HBCU players in positions to elevate their selection probabilities.
There was the creation of the HBCU Legacy Bowl, a postseason all-star game that featured draft-eligible HBCU players, televised on NFL Network. Several Black college football players also participated in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl; were invited to the Reese’s Senior Bowl; the first-of-its-kind HBCU Combine and were selected to the NFL Combine that drew representatives from every NFL team and even XFL teams.
“I just think a lot of these players needed people to see them on a consistent basis,” said Gerald Huggins a scout and coach for DraftHBCUPlayers. “Don’t be surprised if we have double-digit get drafted or well over 20 or 30 guys get free-agent deals.
Sanders, in an interview with NFL Network on Tuesday, said his desire was “seven to 10 players” getting selected with the goal of that number doubling in subsequent years.
“I expect a few of you to get the call,” he said.