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NFL, Senior Bowl partner for inaugural HBCU combine

Aug 17, 2019; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans offensive tackle Tytus Howard (71) walks off the field during the game against the Detroit Lions at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL is partnering with the Senior Bowl to hold a pre-draft combine for top prospects from Historically Black Colleges and Universities next January.

The inaugural HBCU combine, scheduled for Jan. 28-29 in 2022 in Mobile, Ala., will be similar to the NFL combine and include interviews as well as on-field and medical evaluations. Select players from four HBCU conferences — Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA), Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC), Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) and Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) — and other HBCU institutions will be invited to participate.

“Throughout NFL history, HBCU athletes have exemplified a standard of excellence both on and off the field,” Troy Vincent, NFL executive vice president of football operations, said in a statement. “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.”

The combine, originally scheduled for March 27-29, 2020, in Miami and postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, will be held at the University of South Alabama, home of the Senior Bowl game set for Feb. 5, 2022. The release noted that a key objective of the timing and location is to ensure maximum opportunity for HBCU players to interact with NFL representatives as nearly all 32 NFL teams generally attend the Senior Bowl.

“Over the years, the Senior Bowl has served as a showcase for some of the top Black college football players in America, including seven of our game’s 56 future members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and this event will help many more HBCU players secure further attention and exposure from all 32 teams,” said Jim Nagy, Reese’s Senior Bowl executive director, in the statement.

An HBCU scouting committee, comprised of current and former league executives, will evaluate and select the participants. The Senior Bowl will provide medical and football personnel to capture pre-draft information.

No HBCU players were drafted in 2021, and just one player was picked in the seventh round in 2020. In 2019, Alabama State offensive lineman Tytus Howard was a first-round pick by the Houston Texans after playing in the Senior Bowl.

–Field Level Media