NFL dream within reach for NC HBCU grads -

NFL dream within reach for NC HBCU grads

Troy Vincent Sr.

Fayetteville State defensive back Joshua Williams participates in a drill at the NFL football scouting combine, Sunday, March 6, 2022, in Indianapolis.  Williams was drafted in the 4th round by the Kansas City Chiefs. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Here’s a message for football players at Historically Black Colleges and Universities across the country, including North Carolina. 

As you report to your teams this summer, know this: You should aim high. Train with big dreams. There’s a path to the NFL that runs straight through HBCUs — and it’s only getting wider.  

In 2022, four HBCU football players were selected in the NFL Draft. Thirty-three more signed with clubs as undrafted free agents or received invitations to rookie camps. That’s 37 HBCU players — starting with Fayetteville State’s Joshua Williams in the fourth round — with a chance to make an NFL roster. 

More:Pros and cons of Kansas City Chiefs picking Fayetteville State’s Joshua Williams in NFL Draft

In 2021, there were no HBCU athletes drafted. The year before that? Just one. The results showed that we weren’t living up to our creed of “football is for all.” 

Troy Vincent Sr., executive vice president of football operations for the National Football League

We accelerated our efforts, starting with a conversation with Hall of Famers Ronnie Lott and Willie Lanier. They asked how they could help close the resource gap between HBCUs (some of which haven’t had a new playing surface in decades) and schools in the Power Five conferences, with their big-money media deals. Coaches such as Deion Sanders at Jackson State also have been allies and powerful advocates for the HBCU pipeline. 

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