Deion Sanders faults NFL for overlooking HBCUs in the draft

Jackson State University Football Coach Deion Sanders on the field
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Jackson State coach Deion Sanders thinks the NFL needs to do a better job of recognizing the talent coming out of Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Sanders said yesterday at Jackson State’s Pro Day that while he was pleased to see 22 teams represented, he was not happy with the 10 NFL teams that didn’t send scouts to see his players. Sanders also said that last year’s draft, which didn’t see a single player from an HBCU drafted, was unacceptable.

“That’s not gonna happen again. It’ll never happen again. I know for the pandemic year we got an excuse, but that’s not gonna happen again. My desire is 7-10 players this year drafted, then we’ll try and double that, and then the sky’s gonna be the limit,” Sanders said on NFL Network.

Sanders said he wants more exposure for HBCUs, and said that Jackson State’s spring game will be televised this year. He also said he wants HBCU players — not just Jackson State players, but players from other HBCUs — to attend the draft.

“I need at least four of our schools and their coaches represented, to bring the player they think is draftable, we’ve got to bring them to the draft. Because I want the kids to see it, I want them to feel it, I want them to touch it, I want them to witness it live, so they can say, ‘I can do that,'” Sanders said. “NFL Network, come on, make it happen.”

Sanders has done an excellent job at Jackson State, winning SWAC Coach of the Year last year and then stunning the college football recruiting world by convincing Travis Hunter, viewed by some as the single best player in this year’s recruiting class, to spurn Florida State and attend Jackson State. And now Sanders has bigger plans for the way he’s going to generate attention for his program, and other HBCU programs.

22 responses to “Deion Sanders faults NFL for overlooking HBCUs in the draft

  1. He had a brief interview with SB Nation at Super Bowl media week and he was much more perceptive and level headed than I ever realized. I assumed he was driving a hype train but actually he’s driving legitimate systems and well-reasoned concepts.

  2. So, does the NFL send 32 scouts to every teams pro day? Especially a lower division. I doubt it. This is recruiting move and a non-story.

  3. Doubtful. The draft is only a couple of hundred players. There’s always going to be a bunch of undrafted free agents.,

  4. Well Coach Prime, it’s been done before but a culture change will be needed for it to happen again. I will go ahead and date myself here, but Coach Eddie Robinson consistently put players from HBCU’s in the NFL while at Grambling St. during his time there. He sent 200 players to the NFL during his coaching tenure. The main difference between now and then? Those players took pride in going to the Grambling’s, Southern’s, et al of the HBCU variety. You didn’t have the insanity of today and the draw of having to take your talents to the Bama’s, Ohio St.’s, Clemson’s, LSU’s ,et al of the world if you wanted a good coach to coach you up and get you into the league. Especially now with the NIL payments it will probably be even harder for HBCU’s to draw top talent than ever before. Not saying it can’t be done, Deion already pulled in the Hunter kid so that’s a great start but I still don’t see it becoming the norm. If a kid is getting a $1mil endorsement deal, and an almost guaranteed path to the NFL as an early round pick by playing at a school such as Bama, that is pretty hard to turn down when the other option is school that won’t be able to get you the same kind of endorsement deal (if any at all) and might be able to get you into the NFL as a late round pick or UDFA. Until you can get these kids to buck the trend of turning down the money and do what the players of the Robinson era did, go to HBCU’s for the pride of playing there, I don’t see it changing that much. In turn it will be hard to get the NFL to your campus if the roster is full of 1 star athletes. I feel that Coach Prime can change that view point if he sticks it out at Jackson State in time, but if a Power 5 teams comes calling 2 years from now and he chases the money I feel all his postering will be for nothing.

  5. Deion, just keep doing what you’re doing at Jackson State, and it will happen.

  6. The NFL scouts everywhere. They are not ignoring the HBCU. However, this will produce publicity for them and that is a good thing. It should help them in recruiting.

  7. I have little doubt that Coach Prime will succeed. The NFL doesn’t ignore HBCU’s. What Sanders is talking about is raising the level of HBCU players so they can succeed in the NFL. Earned opportunity is real opportunity.

  8. The NFL will find talent at the smallest schools in the nation, no team is prejudiced against talent. If there is NFL Level talent at HBCU schools then then scouts will be there to see it and they will be drafted. If the talent level doesn’t exist, then they won’t be drafted. This has less to do about the color of a players skin as it does about the ability and how that would translate to the NFL.

  9. “I need at least four of our schools and their coaches represented, to bring THE player they think is draftable, we’ve got to bring them to the draft.”

    THE player? That’s why all 32 teams don’t show up to a pro day. I doubt all 32 teams went to Wyoming’s 2018 pro day. Why? Because THE player (Josh Allen) was the only guy worth checking out…and even that was limited to teams that needed a QB. Smaller programs can turn out great players – Andre Reed was another small school Bills player – and the teams that do go to the effort of turning over every stone are rewarded with the occasional diamond.

  10. African-American coaches have absolutely been overlooked, but I think claims about players are hollow. Look at the current makeup of the NFL and how much scouting is done. HBCU players have every bit as much of an opportunity as anyone else. This is not about race.

  11. Sanders is raising the level of professionalism at Jackson State and that, along with his reputation, generates interest from NFL teams. Great job by him.

  12. Jerry Rice
    Walter Payton
    Michael Strahan
    Richard Dent
    Mel Blount
    Shannon Sharpe
    Deacon Jones
    Willie Lanier
    John Stallworth
    Doug Williams
    LC Greenwood
    Ed “Too Tall” Jones
    Steve McNair

    Just to name a few…

    Sanders is right – there is great talent at HBCU’s – always has been. Teams just have to look for it.

  13. Knowing the amount of wealth he’s accumulated and yet, he’s still out there trying to help people, I can only tip my cap to him.

  14. If you think, teams are intentionally not looking at these schools, you are are kidding yourself. If a team, doesn’t send a representative to a certain school. It’s because the research up to that point, doesn’t determine it’s worth going. In 2021 71% of NFL players were men of color(Not white boys). Over half the Players in 2021 were Black men, 58%. To think teams would exclude a school or schools because they are for black students is silly. It’s also silly to think “X” amount of players should be drafted from HBCU’s. If they are good enough to be drafted, they will get drafted or signed as an undrafted free agent. Just like the almost 500 undrafted free agents already in the league. Every year kids that are told they are going to get drafted don’t. Yet they still make an NFL roster.

  15. NFL teams find talent, wherever it is. A previous poster already listed all the names across history. The cream rises, no matter where it goes to college. Talent is talent. If Prime Time sticks it out Jackson St and continues to get 5 star recruits, then it will happen even more. Stealing recruits from the big boys is a good way to start. Good luck.

  16. burrowfan says:

    “To think teams would exclude a school or schools because they are for black students is silly.”

    I agree with you – the only color today’s NFL is concerned about is green. But I don’t think anyone is thinking teams don’t look because the students are predominately black. I don’t think that’s what Sanders thinks, either.

    Many NFL teams just don’t credit the level of talent that can reside there and really don’t bother looking very hard. The mindset of “well, if they were worth our time, wouldn’t they be playing at (insert power five school here)???” is hard to shake for some talent evaluators.

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