Senior Bowl, NFL to Hold Pre-Draft Combine for HBCU Players in January 2022

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVMay 26, 2021

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 21: Alcorn State receiver LeCharles Pringle (left) tries to break free of North Carolina A&T linebacker Kyin Howard (54) during the third quarter of an NCAA college football game in the Celebration Bowl on December 21, 2019, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. (Photo by Austin McAfee/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Austin McAfee/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Senior Bowl and NFL are partnering to stage a pre-draft combine for players from historically Black colleges and universities.

According to the Associated Press, the first event will run from Jan. 28-29, 2022, at the University of South Alabama.

Troy Vincent, the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations addressed the move:

"Throughout NFL history, HBCU athletes have exemplified a standard of excellence both on and off the field. The HBCU Combine is part of honoring that legacy and making every effort to accelerate exposure of HBCU draft prospects to all NFL clubs. The game is better when all have the opportunity to compete."

This comes after the Black College Football Hall of Fame announced in March it was creating the Legacy Bowl, an All-Star showcase for HBCU players.

Particularly during the era of segregation, HBCUs saw a number NFL stars-to-be come through their doors. More recently, the likes of Jerry Rice, Shannon Sharpe, Michael Strahan and Steve McNair all plied their trades at an HBCU before moving on to the next level.

However, those schools have fallen victim to the increased stratification of college football. The resources afforded to top Power Five programs dwarf the competition, which creates a self-perpetuating cycle where the rich get richer.

The idea of top high school athletes committing to play for an HBCU school has gained steam in recent years but has yet to provide significant returns.

The 2021 NFL draft didn't see a single HBCU player selected. Grambling State's David Moore, North Carolina Central's Bryan Mills and Florida A&M's Calvin Ashley were among those who signed with teams as undrafted free agents.