The Second Annual HBCU Combine/Legacy Bowl took over New Orleans
The 2023 HBCU Legacy Bowl took place on Saturday, February 25th in New Orleans, Louisiana. The second annual Legacy Bowl, that is supported by the NFL, is a postseason all-star game that features selected HBCU college football prospects in the country. Along with the Legacy Bowl is the HBCU combine, where athletes can perform on-field workouts and interact with NFL representatives.
Athletes were selected from the CIAA, MEAC, SWAC, and the SIAC conferences, respectively. One of the premiere players that were selected was Tyler King, running back for Edward Waters University that is in Jacksonville, Florida. King elaborated on how much it meant for him to get the call to compete with other HBCU athletes looking to make a name for themselves.
“Well number one I was ready mentally, and I felt that I was always the best around whoever. I got top notch talent in my opinion, and it was a big blessing, and it was an honor to meet Doug Williams”, King stated.
Doug Williams is a former NFL quarterback who played for Grambling State and eventually went on to play for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (‘78-’82), Arizona Outlaws (‘84-'85), and then finished his career with the Washington Redskins (‘86-’89), respectively. Williams became the first black quarterback to start and win a super bowl when he led the Redskins to a 42-10 victory over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXII. After his playing career, Williams became long time head coach for Grambling State, and he has become an historical figure in HBCU football, as well as being one of the driving forces for the Legacy Bowl to come to fruition.
King recently did an interview for News4Jax after the legacy bowl and delivered a speech about his mindset and how he approaches not only football, but life. He spoke about self-love, self-belief, and never giving up.
“It comes from growing up having to understand what life is as a child. As hard as it was growing up with just a mother, she introduced us to God. Secondly, we were raised up in the church and she gave us all the tools in the box. I am the definition of believing”, King elaborated.
The Edward Waters senior running back had his most productive outing against Morehouse College back in October. He rushed for a season-high 96 yards and three touchdowns. King also averaged 10.7 yards per carry along with a 53-yard run in the contest.
NFL Representative of the Players Association Carl Francis weighed in on the HBCU Legacy Bowl and the significance of what the event means to black athletes striving to make it professionally.
“It’s about exposure, opportunity, and the ability to show your skillsets on an equal playing field. The HBCU legacy bowl gives you that platform. Not only the platform, but the other programs that come along with the game such as the evening chat sessions with former HBCU players and the chats on professionalism. It’s not about just getting into the league, it’s about how to be a professional in the national football league”, Francis said.
Francis alluded to current Kansas City Chiefs and former Fayetteville State defensive back Joshua Williams as someone who has exuberated professionalism coming from an HBCU. Williams competed in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl game in 2022 and made use of other affairs the game had to offer. Francis conveyed that how you communicate with people, how you carry yourself, and behaving like a professional is the key to success. He added that the HBCU legacy bowl gives athletes an edge in that aspect.
Francis gave credence to Doug Williams, the Black College Football Hall of Fame, and former Grambling State and NFL Quarterback James “Shack” Harris as the ones that made the HBCU Legacy bowl what it is today. Francis also discussed current NFL network reporter and Howard University graduate Steve Wyche as someone who helps immensely with exposure to the annual game. The HBCU Legacy Bowl and the Combine was broadcasted on NFL Network live.
Francis gave advice to HBCU players that don’t get the chance to make it to the NFL.
“If you want to pursue your dream there are many ways to get there, but you will have to continue to work out, position yourself, join the CFL, XFL and keep chopping wood in order to get that opportunity”, Francis said.
As of this writing, there are 31 NFL players that came from HBCUs and were signed to a team at the start of the 2022 NFL season.