Isaiah Bolden was the sole HBCU player selected in this year's NFL Draft.
While the Jackson State cornerback and returner said he will "hold it down" for products of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, his former coach Deion Sanders shared more thoughts on the draft.
"You deserved to be drafted much higher but I'm truly proud of u," the Colorado coach wrote. "I know how much u want this. I'm ashamed of the 31 other NFL teams that couldn't find draft value in ALL of the talented HBCU players & we had 3 more draft worthy players at JSU."
The New England Patriots selected Bolden in the seventh round, 245th overall.
So proud is you @isaiahbolden23 You deserved to be drafted much higher but I'm truly proud of u. I know how much u want this. I'm ashamed of the 31 other @nfl teams that couldn't find draft value in ALL of the talented HBCU players & we had 3 more draft worthy players at JSU. pic.twitter.com/BfEm3zIGPH
— COACH PRIME (@DeionSanders) April 30, 2023
Sanders, a Pro Football Hall of Famer, was the head coach at Jackson State from 2020-22 before taking the Colorado job.
Bolden was able to draw league interest with 30 solo tackles, 14 assisted tackles and seven passes deflected during his time under Sanders. During his junior season, he led the nation (both FCS and FBS) in kickoff return average at 36.9 yards per return.
Sanders has called out the NFL before
Bolden was able to showcase his skills during JSU's pro day, reportedly running a 4.3 40-yard dash and jumping close to 40 inches at 6-foot-3.
The turnout for that event led to a stern social media message from Sanders, evidence that he has no issue holding the league accountable.
“24 teams came to witness our kids yesterday in its entirety and I appreciate you. But there’s 32 teams in this Crayola box,” Sanders said on Twitter. “Therefore, the Dolphins, the Broncos, the Texans, the Bills, the Buccaneers, the Ravens, the Panthers, the Browns, the Vikings and the Eagles, where art thou? You could have sent somebody, man, you could have shown up just a little bit, but I guarantee you that you’re gonna go to Mississippi State and Ole Miss. I guarantee you’re gonna show up there and I understand you say they have more talent, I understand. But guess what? We’re comin’.”
Four HBCU players were selected during the 2022 NFL Draft, an improvement after none were selected the year prior. There was hope this year could see even more growth.
The NFL held a combine for HBCU players in 2021, an effort that was delayed one year due to the pandemic. This year all 32 NFL teams attended the event, which was hosted by the HBCU Legacy Bowl, a postseason all-star game to showcase HBCU players. Forty-seven players participated.