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HBCU Legacy Bowl Could Soon Rival Senior Bowl in Game-Day Attendance - Popularity Growing in NOLA



In Year One of the HBCU Legacy Bowl, the stars were out as Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes, Actor Michael Ealy, Dolphins Tackle Terron Armstead, YouTube Star Deestroying, and many more stars flooded the sideline to see the first HBCU Legacy Bowl. At the time, HBCUs were "all the rave", as Deion Sanders and Jackson State were dominating headlines. Coach Prime had just lost his first Celebration Bowl, and every sports outlet had at least one of their writers covering HBCU Sports.


One of the major concerns, however, was the lack of HBCUs being drafted into the NFL. In 2020, zero HBCU players were drafted . The Legacy Bowl was created in response to zero HBCU players being drafted that year according to founders and NFL Legends Shack Harris and Doug Williams. The first Legacy Bowl game was not well attended, but it did get the attention of the league. In the 2021 draft, four HBCU players were drafted including now two-time champion, with the Kansas City Chiefs, Joshua Williams (Fayetteville State) 4th Round Pick 135, DeCobie Durant (South Carolina State) 4th Round Pick 142, James Houston IV (Jackson State) 6th Round Pick 217, and Ja'Tyre Carter (Southern) 7th Round Pick 226. Along with four players being drafted, multiple HBCU players were signed as free agents.


Doug Williams, Shack Harris and a host of other Legends of Football were out at the 3rd Annual HBCU Legacy Bowl.  Photo Credit - Ernest Ricks
Doug Williams, Shack Harris,and a host of other Legends of Football were out at the 3rd Annual HBCU Legacy Bowl. Photo Credit - Ernest Ricks

The narrative changed slightly in 2022, last year saw only one HBCU player drafted in Isaiah Bolden (Jackson State) by the New England Patriots, but there was a major increase in the number of HBCU players that had a chance to sign with NFL teams.

Of the players that signed with NFL teams multiple HBCU players made an impact in pre-season. Shaq Davis (SC State) became a major fan favorite for Saints fans, Aubrey Miller, Jr. made impact for the Dolphins, and Emmanuel Wilson made PLAYS for the Green Bay Packers. Wilson was one of the many HBCU graduating athletes that played in the HBCU Legacy Bowl last season. Wilson initially signed with the Broncos but made impact in the preseason with the Packers. Wilson eventually made the 53 man roster and contributed the Packers playoff upset of the Dallas Cowboys.


Celebration Bowl Champion Jeremy Moussa had a decent week as he prepares for draft season. Photo Credit: Ernest Ricks
Celebration Bowl Champion Jeremy Moussa had a decent week as he prepares for draft season. Photo Credit: Ernest Ricks

The Legacy Bowl matters and it give HBCU players a real opportunity to work out in front of NFL scouts. The Legacy Bowl is structured, similar to but, slightly different from the Senior Bowl. As the week is where scouts, agents, and media get a bead on players. The Legacy Bowl distinguishes itself by giving certain players an invitation to perform for NFL Scouts at the HBCU combine. Taymon Cooke ran an unofficial 4.39, 40 yard dash. Cooke said, being in front of scouts at the HBCU combine was even better than the game. Cooke went on to say, “that was a blessing, just to showcase your talent in front of all 32 teams… I ran a 4.39… they told me to keep working and we gon see what happens.” Coach Eddie Robinson, Jr. Head Coach of Alabama State echoed that sentiment, " ... it's another opportunity to seen in front of the scouts, I think that's really big and everybody wants to have that dream of playing in the NFL, so you get that one more chance to be seen, and I think they're all trying to take advantage of it..."


Photo Credit: Ernest Ricks
Photo Credit: Ernest Ricks

Being invisible is one of the most damning experiences for any player. It means that your efforts, talents, hard work, instincts, playmaking ability, charisma, and character, go unseen. Some of these athletes wake up at 4am to lift weights and run to near exhaustion during the off-season to prepare to give their best effort on the field. They discipline themselves, say no to a lot of the joys of being an athlete in college, to be the best athletes in college. Then one day late in December for some reason or another the ride is over. The HBCU Legacy Bowl gives these players one more chance to play in front of their families, teammates, and former coaches. Lewis Matthews, All-SWAC linebacker from Grambling State, said, “It means a lot especially my mom, she came all the way from Ferriday, she's pretty excited. I was watching her the whole time she was jumping in the stands going crazy, I really did it for my mom and my daughter…”.


One of the best parts about the Legacy Bowl is how they treat the players. Every year for the last three years players and coaches rave about the "first class" treatment they receive and the benefits of participating in the game. Omari Hill-Robinson said, "they did an awesome job, the experience was awesome... this is the best experience I've ever experienced, they did good with that...I feel like everybody should do this and they will enjoy it"


The Sonic Boom, fresh off of their Super Bowl appearance, was in New Orleans to entertain the crowd. Photo Credit: Ernest Ricks
The Sonic Boom, fresh off of their Super Bowl appearance, was in New Orleans to entertain the crowd. Photo Credit: Ernest Ricks

One thing that really improved this year was the attendance, which was visible from the field. There were a lot of people in attendance this year. At times it did not appear on tv, as if there were a lot of people, however, being there, we can attest to the fact that there was a line of people in a VERY LONG line at the concession stand during the second half of the game. The game is starting to pick up steam in New Orleans and the word is getting out about the Legacy Bowl. One fan, Reggie who brought two young men with him including his nephew Raymonte, said, "We come here every year, it's a family thing, ...Last year it wasn't as close to as big as it is this year...the HBCUs are getting noticed... I think the word is getting around and the excitement of the game is getting around, so we're going to keep on pushing until we have this stadium packed."


Team Gaither Standouts


Ian Wheeler averaged 5.3 yards a carry running 8 times for the game leading 42 yards


Quinzel Lockhart lead all Wide Receivers with 48 yards on 4 catches


Taymon Cooke showed his speed on his one catch of the day going for 20 yards


Defense


Qwashsin Townsel led in tackles with 5 Total Tackles, while Superstar End Jeblonski Green had four tackles and 2 tackles for loss


New Orleans Saint Quarterback Jameis Winston was in the building to support the 3rd annual Legacy Bowl! Photo Credit: Ernest Ricks
New Orleans Saint Quarterback Jameis Winston was in the building to support the 3rd annual Legacy Bowl! Photo Credit: Ernest Ricks

Team Robinson


Lyndon Rash and Marcus Riley (Who ran an unofficial 4.3 at the HBCU Combine) both lead the team in receiving yards with 31 and 20 yards, respectively. Rash also had a touchdown.


Grambling Linebacker Lewis Matthews led with 6 total tackles, while FAMU LINEBACKER Isaiah Major had 5 tackles, a sack, a tackle for loss, one pass breakup, and a near safety right before halftime.


1件のコメント


Good to the the growth of the game and the opportunities players are getting.

いいね!
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