HBCU pro days have never gotten the exposure or visibility they should. Despite the list of HBCU greats that helped the NFL explode in popularity during its first 30 years in existence, over the last few decades there’s been a stigma attached to HBCU athletes.
An implication that they were somehow inferior because their athletes didn’t attend Power Five schools.
But this year seems to be a changing of the guard. Jackson State head coach Deion Sanders and other prominent HBCU leaders have insisted that the NFL show more respect for the abilities of their student-athletes.
It seems the league is listening.
The Florida A&M Rattlers had their pro day, and reportedly 30 of the 32 NFL franchises sent representatives to Tallahassee, Florida. That’s a huge change from the past, as head coach Willie Simmons has caught a lot of flak in recent years for the lack of attendees at FAMU’s pro day. The 30 NFL attendees is said to be the most ever to descend on the Tallahassee campus.
The football gods were on the job as the NFL owners meetings were held in person for the first time since 2019. Top officials, team owners, general managers and head coaches descended upon Palm Beach, which is just a one-hour flight from the campus, to discuss league matters.
You’d have to also assume the close proximity between the two locations definitely encouraged the increased attendance by NFL officials, so the timing was immaculate.
Simmons spoke about the turnout.
“I’m excited about Pro Day,” said Simmons, who became the school’s 18th full-time head coach in 2017. “It’s a beautiful day with 30 of 32 NFL teams here to watch our men showcase their abilities and talents and our entire team got to see what’s possible when you work hard.
“It was really, really amazing day and I’m proud of the performances of some of our guys.”
Some teams, like the Pittsburgh Steelers, reportedly sent multiple reps down south for the festivities.
FAMU’s big turnout comes on the heels of Jackson State’s pro day last week, where Deion Sanders says 22 of the 32 NFL franchises sent representatives.
To read more about other HBCU Pro Days and the NFL reps that are starting to take notice of Black College football prospects, click here.