Photo: Jackson State Athletics

Jackson State All-SWAC linebacker James Houston was one of four HBCU players to be taken in the 2022 NFL Draft, but few would have known it judging by a social media post of the team that selected him.

After taking Houston in the sixth round on Saturday, the Detroit Lions — on its Instagram page — ran University of Florida highlights instead of Jackson State film.

 

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That drew the ire of Deion Sanders Jr., the son of JSU head coach Deion Sanders, about the obvious oversight.

“You serious @detroitlionsnfl? You post James Houston’s University of Florida Highlights instead of his at Jackson State?” Sanders wrote in response to what he saw. “With all the trials we go through at HBCU’s, you can at least give us the credit & recognition we deserve. Don’t punish HBCU’s nor our players over A QUOTE that my dad said over 20 something years ago…. Btw – At JSU he had 70 tackles (52 solo), 24.5 tackles for loss, 16.5 sacks, 7 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries, 1 interception, & 2 defensive touchdowns.”

Sanders Jr. was referencing a draft day quote by Deion Sanders in 1989 when the now Pro Football Hall of Famer spoke about the possibility of being taken by Detroit.

“I was kinda scared. I thought Detroit was gonna take me,” he said back then. “I would’ve asked them for so much money they would have to put me on layaway.”

Also read: HBCU football players went undrafted in 2021. Inside the effort to ‘do more’ for Black college NFL prospects

Justin Rogers, who covers the Lions for the Detroit News, explained on Twitter the team did not have access to Houston’s Jackson State highlights through a database service they normally use even though JSU has been one of the most visible programs in the country since Sanders was named head coach.

Rogers also reported that Jackson State failed to respond to requests for highlights, which forced the Lions to use Florida footage.

Houston, a class of 2017 prospect from American Heritage High School in Plantation, Florida, played four seasons at Florida before transferring to Jackson State. Houston appeared in 35 games for the Gators as a reserve linebacker, tallying 103 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 11.5 tackles for loss, and four forced fumbles.

In his lone season in Jackson, Houston recorded 16.5 sacks and 24.5 tackles for loss to go along with 70 tackles, seven forced fumbles, an interception and two defensive touchdowns in 13 games. He was named SWAC Defensive Player of the Year and named an FCS All-American.

Despite the controversy, Lions general manager Brad Holmes spoke highly of Houston and his potential.

“I didn’t know a lot about James as we were going through the fall process,” Lions general manager Brad Holmes said. “Then, as he hit the all-star circuit and made some noise there, and we went on and so forth throughout the process, his name kept coming up and coming up. The scouts had a lot of buy-in with this player. Dave Sears, our college director, had a lot of passion about his evaluation and what he thought his potential could be.”



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