NFL Scout Do Not Sleep on HBCU Prospects Like A&T’s Tarik Cohen
As the college football dives into regular season play, the ascension of Louisville star QB Lamar Jackson, Ohio State QB JT Barrett, and other players are headlining the college football season. Not to take anything away from Alabama and Ohio State, but the HBCUs headline a group of talented football players of their own. HBCU players have historically not been drafted at a high rate or come even close to receiving recognition for their talent. Despite not being at the top of the ranks competitively when it comes to college football, they deserve more respect and credit than they receive.
Last April, the NFL Draft took place, with all 32 NFL teams going through seven rounds of evaluation, assessment, and selection of over 300 NFL draftees. When was an HBCU player drafted? Not until round 3, yes, ROUND 3! SC State defensive tackle, Javon Hargrave, was taken as a 3rd round pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Only 3 total HBCU players were taken in the entire 2016 NFL draft, and the number of intriguing prospects the HBCU boasts does not seem to equate to 3 measly draft picks.
HBCUs across America don’t have the numerous pro-potential athletes that schools in the SEC or Big Ten have, but there are several players at HBCUs who could play and star in those leagues. Bunn High School (Bunn, NC) native and North Carolina A&T running back, Tarik Cohen, is one one those guys. A diminutive 5’7 173 pounds, the senior rusher has had a magnificent career, having already broken the school’s career rushing record. In the Inaugural Air Force Celebration Bowl of 2015, Cohen put up an impressive 295 yards and 3 touchdowns on route to a 41–34 win. Cohen’s speed and elusiveness fits the modern style NFL running back, despite his small size.
Another talented player in the HBCU ranks in Alabama State linebacker, Kourtney Berry. Berry had an astounding 130 tackles last year to lead the Southwestern Athletic Conference. His defensive IQ and versatility makes him a perfect fit for any and all 32 NFL teams.
Other HBCU players to look out for include Grambling State defensive back, Guy Stallworth, Hampton wideout, Twarn Mixson, and Southern University running back, Lenard Tillery. Thee HBCUs possess several NFL-potential talents like these each year, but only a handful get that opportunity. Whether it is a question of competition level, size, or how well they translate to the NFL, HBCU football players deserve more credit than they get and should be acknowledged for the talent they have year in and year out.