More than 50 years ago, African American college football was just as competitive as any conference in the nation. Historically black colleges and universities routinely produced notable and Hall of Fame quality professional athletes due to the endless talent that graced these campuses because of segregation.
The beginning of integration changed all of that for HBCUs across the South. Schools throughout the country began to open their doors for African American athletes when they started to see how much talent there was. HBCUs, already underfunded since their beginning, had had more than enough talent to make up for that. Then, suddenly, the talent was going to predominately white institutions that offered fancier facilities and an opportunity to play on nationally TV Saturday after Saturday. HBCUs today, are still underfunded, and now the talent is gone.
Today, top high school athletes have voiced their opinions online about attending HBCUs.
Kayvon Thibodeaux, a California prep star who visited both FSU and FAMU this past weekend, said in a tweet, “How crazy would it be if the top athletes started going to HBCU’s…”
“I am loving that high school athletes are considering HBCUs as their choice of schooling because that’s something you don’t hear and see often. Every high school player usually only considers D1 schools, but little do they know, we have the same training and professional opportunities as D1 schools. I would say be knowledgeable when choosing which HBCU you want to attend. Do your research on the teams, how many NFL players they have produced, as well as coaches. A coach with a great background and history as far as football, can also help in your decision”, said Taylor Kirby, a FAMU student and Tallahassee native.
Despite the decline in top athletes, HBCUs have survived and achieved at producing some of today’s top-caliber professionals.
Deangelo Howard, a former student athlete at Jacksonville University and former strength and conditioning coach at Valdosta State University, said, “The choice of institution does not matter as far as being a student athlete because you can be the best athlete in any collegiate sport in the nation or in the world and what would matter is the talent that is being displayed in the plays on each film each Saturday. You can be the best in the world and be on a powerhouse Division 1 team with no recognition or be on a smaller division or HBCU being a star or one of the star athletes, it matters what not school you attend but what you do at that school. HBCUs give you more than just an education, they give you an opportunity to be you with no worry and freedom to express yourself and talents in any way, shape or form possible.”