Deion Sanders’ recruiting brings more NFL eyes to HBCUs


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Historically Black Colleges and Universities have been less likely to receive as much attention from NFL scouts compared to school in more well-known leagues.

By DeOndre Saunders, Sports Reporter

Jackson State University’s head coach Deion Sanders is looking to change the culture in Historically Black Colleges and Universities football by solving the issue of NFL teams not looking to scout players from HBCUs. 

HBCU athletes have been overlooked by NFL teams for the past two decades. NFL scouts only target players from predominantly white institutions (PWIs) because they have five and four-star recruits and thousand-dollar facilities. 

Some of the best players come from HBCUs. Players who came to the NFL from an HBCU include Shannon Sharpe, Michael Strahan, Walter Payton, Jerry Rice, Bob Hayes and Willie Brown. 

HBCUs are not looked at as the target schools for Black athletes because they do not have a lot of exposure. These colleges aren’t televised, and analysts on networks such as ESPN, Fox and CBS aren’t talking about HBCUs. Meanwhile, PWIs get all of the attention as their games are televised on weekends and analysts talk about them.

Sanders has changed the narrative about HBCU football this year as 11 of the 12 games his team has played this year has been televised. 

Signing No. 1 players to HBCUs

Sanders has done some marvelous things in his two years as head coach at JSU. Sanders just got five-star recruit and number-one-ranked cornerback in the nation Travis Hunter signed to Jackson State, making him the first five-star recruit to commit to an HBCU. 

Hunter initially committed to Florida State University in March of 2020. He later changed his decision in December of 2021 to attend Jackson State University. 

Hunter received a lot of criticism for leaving a powerhouse football school like FSU to join a HBCU. Hunter responded to the critics about his decision to leave FSU.

“It’s a dream that is hard to let go of, but sometimes we are called to step into a bigger future than the one we imagined for ourselves,” Hunter said. “For me, that future is at Jackson State University.”

Sanders went to Hunter’s home and talked to him and his family. After their talk, Hunter took it upon himself to come to JSU’s homecoming to see what the college atmosphere was like. 

Sanders said he felt comfortable getting Hunter because he knows how to recruit players without lying to them. He tells kids they have to put in the work and do their job on and off the field to become successful.

Sanders described Hunter as an electric player who has a good skill set and an adequate technique. Sanders said in an interview with ESPN, he knows Hunter can play well on defense but wants to see him play on the offensive end as well.

A recent event Sanders had at JSU was a Pro Day for his players at JSU and other schools such as Alcorn State and Mississippi Valley State so they can get scouted by NFL teams. 22 NFL teams showed up to Pro Day at JSU to see what talents these players have. Sanders makes sure that his players as well as other HBCUs get to display their talents and change the narrative for HBCU football going forward.