Will top recruits at HBCUs become the new norm?

John Holcombe may potentially take his talents to Tallahassee, Florida. Photo courtesy of Kansas State Athletics Media Relations

Kansas State University quarterback John Holcombe announced his transfer to Florida A&M University on his Twitter page January 13 writing “New school, New number. 2020 the rebirth. #FAMULY”.

Holcombe weighing in at 6’4, 249 lbs, was nowhere near being established at the starting quarterback at Kansas State for the 2019-2020 season nor the 2020-2021 season. So he decided to take his talent and athleticism elsewhere and join the Florida A&M football team. Although no contract or paperwork has been sent to the university, a verbal agreement was made. 

Our former quarterback Ryan Stanely, 2019 MEAC Offensive Player of the Year,  tweeted his approval of the Holcombe transfer. 

What does the move of a triple threat athlete deciding to join a FCS football program say to the PWI programs who are thirsty to exploit and profit off of a talent like his? Predominantly white institutions continuously reap the benefits of  recruiting elite players to their programs. Is it time for HBCUs to do the same?

The trend of black players being recruited to PWIs began in the early 1960s when they decided to integrate their schools then recruit from HBCUs and offer them things that they’ve never had.

Former rattler TE Taymel Christian believes that division one caliber players should not further their talents at HBCUs.

“Honestly, I don’t think they should come to HBCUs. Not until HBCUs can offer what the PWIs are bringing to the table,” 

Florida A&M nearly recruited former top high-school football star Kayvon Thibodeaux. In the beginning, he was excited to learn more about the school and his culture. Unfortunately after speaking with the University of Oregon, he signed with that institution and the chances of him attending FAMU are none. 

Thibodeaux said “Nobody wants to eat McDonalds when you can have filet mignon,” referring to FAMU and the University of Oregon. 

Just recently, North Carolina Central University took a leap of faith and offered Lebron James Jr. an athletic scholarship. Although James is only a fifteen year old freshman in high school, schools are already trying to get first dibs on his basketball future. James stands at 6’2” and weighs in at 165 lbs. He plays point guard and shooting guard positions, according to ESPN.

If HBCUs were given the proper funding, recruiting highly talented players in all sports would be a walk in the park. But when we have no sponsors and no money, why would the players pass up all the glitz and glamour just to get the HBCU experience?

What is great, however, is players who talk the road less travelled and attended HBCUs while fighting through the bad and hoping for the same opportunities they’d get if they went to a PWI. Players like John Holcombe. 

It takes a special individual to choose the culture over the clout and go against the grain. Will players continue this trend in the future or allow themselves to be exploited for free?