Jackson State linebacker Aubrey Miller was the anchor of the best defense in the country.
Isaiah Land, the All-American pass-rushing specialist at Florida A&M, earned the Buck Buchanan Award in 2021 as the top FCS defensive player.
The HBCU football standouts spent the last week performing in front of NFL personnel at the Reese’s Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama.
For Land, who briefly entered the transfer portal last offseason, the opportunity to showcase his skill set against the best college players in the country representing an HBCU is something he embraces.
“I think about FAMU and where I came from every day,” Land told The Tallahassee Democrat. “Doing well (at the Senior Bowl) will say a lot about the guys back home. I got to dominate and execute because people around the world don’t really know too much about FAMU. And if they do, they don’t see us as the same level as the Georgias and Alabamas.”
In 2022, Land recorded 7.5 sacks and was named All-SWAC First Team for the second consecutive season.
“It’s a great opportunity to show people that even though I come from FAMU, I can play just as good as anybody else,” he said.
Miller didn’t quite have the same path to the Senior Bowl as Land.
His journey started at Missouri before transferring to Jackson State ahead of the 2021 season where Miller developed into a playmaker and emotional leader for the two-time SWAC champions.
During a week filled with individual and team workouts, Miller — named SWAC Defensive Player of the Year in 2022, has already impressed.
He was named Defensive Player of the Day at the Senior Bowl by The Draft Network. In one drill, Miller ran over Tulane running back Tajae Spears. In another, he showed speed, explosiveness and power, bursting through blockers while forcing a fumble.
“All it is, is just work. If you work hard you going to get what you put in … Like I said, all it is, just work,” said Miller. “I know just make we keep playing the same game we’ve been playing. We (Jackson State) got coached by some real great coaches. Our coaches have been in the league. Coaches that had their explosion had that opportunity, so know we got to make sure we representing and keep taking on what we’ve been learning.”
The 2023 Senior Bowl will kickoff today at 2:30 ET at the University of South Alabama’s Hancock Whitney Stadium and televised on NFL Network.