Deion Sanders changes mind, says he doesn't want HBCU combine anymore

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  • Deion Sanders
    Deion Sanders
    American athlete

An issue that Deion Sanders consistently looks to address as Jackson State football coach is the lack of exposure for HBCU athletes, particularly when it comes time for the NFL draft.

There are two Division I conferences, the MEAC and the SWAC, entirely made up of HBCU teams. There's also Hampton, North Carolina A&T, and Tennessee State which compete in other FCS conferences.

Yet no HBCU players were drafted this year.

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Sanders initially thought a solution could be to have a separate HBCU combine since so few HBCU players get invited to the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.

He planned to have the HBCU combine in Miami and make it into a big event.

He's since changed his mind and no longer wants to have a separate combine. He wants the NFL Scouting Combine to add more spots.

"They were going to allow 52 players I believe to come to that combine in Miami," Sanders said. "We can allow 52 players to come to that combine in Indy. It’s only four or five players for each position or maybe six if I’m doing my math correctly. Why should we be separate? Why should we be placed on another field where all the scouts aren’t coming, all the personnel’s not going to be there like they would normally be in Indy?"

Sanders said he wants to stop the separatism that seeps through college football. He said he noticed it even while he was watching ESPN2 before Jackson State's 27-10 SWAC championship win over Prairie View A&M that was broadcast on the network.

Jackson State head coach Deion Sanders, right, and Mississippi Valley State head coach Vincent Dancy, left, visit before the SWAC Championship game between JSU and Prairie View A&M at Veteran's Memorial Stadium in Jackson, Miss., Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021.
Jackson State head coach Deion Sanders, right, and Mississippi Valley State head coach Vincent Dancy, left, visit before the SWAC Championship game between JSU and Prairie View A&M at Veteran's Memorial Stadium in Jackson, Miss., Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021.

"We’ve got to stop the separatism, we really do. I get mad when I’m watching the channel that had us on (Saturday)," Sanders said. "And you’re talking about all these bowl games and you aren’t mentioning us? Just give us an honorable mention, give us something. I mean you’re talking about some schools that I ain’t even heard of. I ain’t heard of some of the schools.

"At least give us a mention. I think they had a three- or four-hour pregame show before they serve the entrée. Give us something, give us some love, some type of respect. And it’s up to us to stand up for that. We’ve got to, we must. The kids deserve it, they really do."

Sanders has exceeded expectations as far as winning at Jackson State (11-1). He took a program that was 18-37 over the five seasons prior to his arrival and has it playing in the Celebration Bowl in his second season.

But another key objective for him is showing that his program can produce NFL players. He's looking to lead a similar turnaround in that regard.

"These guys can play," Sanders said. "And it’s my opportunity and my task to put the light on the mantle on top of the Christmas tree and allow it to shine because these guys have tremendous gifts. They really do. They just need an opportunity."

This article originally appeared on Mississippi Clarion Ledger: Deion Sanders changes mind about wanting HBCU combine