Arizona high school football camp hosts HBCU scouts for recruiting

A group of five Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) gathered at Higley High School in Gilbert, Ariz. for a joint recruiting event.

With a lack of recruiting in Arizona by HBCUs, organizers set up a high school football camp with 35 participants to run drills with scouts from Howard University, Morgan State University, North Carolina A&T University, Alabama A&M University, and Lincoln University in attendance.

“Recruiting is really hard,” said Britney Buckles, event organizer and former Howard athlete, to Cronkite News. “We talked to a lot of coaches that there’s not a lot of HBCUs that come out here to recruit. So, we thought, ‘Let’s try to put something together where the Black colleges are out here recruiting, (and) the kids are learning about the opportunities they have.’”

After months of preparation, the event took place on Saturday, May 18. The group of players, a relatively small crowd compared to many recruiting events, got exposure from warmups, a 40-yard dash, positional drills and seven-on-seven passing drills, according to Cronkite News.

This provided opportunities for both the schools to recruits and students to meet coaches from HBCUs.

“It’s important that we scout talent out west because these guys need opportunity just like kids in our wheelhouse,” Alabama A&M recruiting coordinator Bobby Turner told Cronkite News. “Unless you’re exposed to something, you sometimes won’t get an opportunity because that’s not the norm. So us getting out here to the desert gives these students an opportunity but also allows us to build our brand from an HBCU athletic and academic standpoint.”

All five HBCUs are from the east coast, the closest of which (Alabama A&M) being 1,600 miles away from Higley High School and the furthest being 2,300 miles away. For programs with limited resources, a recruiting event tailored to the schools helps increase access.

Jayden Wooden, a former Morgan State player who attended Centennial High School in the Greater Phoenix area, told Cronkite News he wanted to emphasize what an HBCU offers students.

“I wanted to let these kids know that there is no experience like an HBCU, from the culture to the community,” he said. “You can’t get those personal experiences at predominantly white institutions. That’s my main thing – the Black cultural experience on the West Coast is lacking, and it’s important to bring that to light.”

Arizona high school football has been elevated over the last decade, with recent players making the NFL like Brock Purdy (Iowa State), Bijan Robinson (Texas) and Kelee Ringo (Georgia). HBCUs are now getting a better opportunity to see if any of the state’s talent meets their standards.

Story originally appeared on High School Sports