Fayetteville State defensive back Joshua Williams went to the Kansas City Chiefs, South Carolina State defensive back Decobie Durant went to the Los Angeles Rams, Jackson State linebacker James Houston IV went to the Detroit Lions, and Southern offensive lineman Ja’Tyre Carter went to the Chicago Bears.
The mark is a start in the eyes of JSU coach Deion “Coach Prime” Sanders, a Pro Football Hall of Famer who’s advocated for HBCU players getting drafted since being hired in 2020.
“NFL, I ain’t mad at ‘cha!” Sanders said in an Instagram video. “I ain’t mad at ‘cha, baby! We got about two more in us, though! We got about two more in us to get drafted today, and that does not count all the free agents. Don’t forget about the free agents. Let’s go, NFL. HBCUS! Everybody that has anything to do with an HBCU, you should be shouting right now and dancing. As a matter of fact, hit the organ right now.”
Williams worked his way up in the draft process not only coming from an HBCU but a Division II school. His D-II All-American performance in 2021 earned him invitations to the Reese’s Senior Bowl and NFL Combine, where he ran a 4.53-second 40-yard dash time.
Durant was the star player on the Black college football champion Bulldogs. In the Celebration Bowl post-game conference, Durant was adamant about reminding media members that other HBCU players outside of Jackson State were also talented.
Houston IV started his career in the SEC with Florida. After four years and receiving his undergraduate degree there, he went to JSU for his graduate-transfer season under Sanders. Houston IV moved from defensive end to linebacker and emerged as arguably the Tigers’ best player on a stacked defense last season. Houston also had a standout performance at Jackson State’s Pro Day.
Carter stood out on a Jaguars’ offense line that allowed the run-heavy offense to be what it has been in recent seasons. Like Williams, he was also invited to the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine.