Jackson State professional day showcases HBCU expertise to skilled soccer leagues — Andscape

JACKSON, Miss. — As Jackson State’s professional day got here to an finish Monday afternoon, three Alcorn State gamers walked over to the golf cart the place Jackson State coach Deion Sanders had been observing and thanked him for the chance to take part.

They understood that the chance to work out in entrance of scouts from 21 NFL groups could possibly be the distinction between getting drafted or going undrafted.

Or, maybe, the distinction between getting signed as an undrafted free agent or not.

Jackson State’s professional day additionally featured gamers from Mississippi Valley State, Delta State, Mississippi Faculty and Murray State.

Thirty-four gamers participated.

“This was all about publicity,” Sanders mentioned. “It was about getting these children a possibility in entrance of NFL scouts and getting them used to this environment.

“However this wasn’t nearly our youngsters, it’s about the entire HBCUs coming collectively and having an exquisite occasion. It’s going to get larger as a result of we’re going to have children who push the envelope.”

Mississippi Valley coach Vincent Dancy mentioned Jackson State internet hosting a professional day is one other instance of Sanders doing what he can to shine a light-weight on all traditionally Black faculties and universities (HBCUs).

“Simply to be sincere, if he wasn’t, we wouldn’t even be having a professional day like this,” Dancy mentioned. “He’s looking for everyone — not simply his guys. He’s looking for everyone on this space and HBCUs everywhere in the nation. He’s shining a light-weight on us and I’m grateful and grateful for it.”

Alcorn State coach Fred McNair mentioned the professional day was higher than he may have imagined.

“The turnout has been phenomenal. It’s even higher than I anticipated,” he mentioned. “My children simply want expertise in entrance of scouts whether or not they’re doing interviews or getting examined to see the way it’s completed at a professional stage.”

The purpose is to get HBCU gamers drafted into the NFL. No participant from HBCU faculties was drafted final 12 months.

Sanders considers that unacceptable. He thinks 5 to 10 HBCU gamers will probably be drafted by NFL groups this 12 months.

“That is enormous for us,” Sanders mentioned. “Having us all come collectively the place all people can see one another and compete in opposition to one another.

“Our underclassmen received to run for the scouts too. Now, they know their flip comes subsequent 12 months. That is all about altering the mindset and exhibiting our youngsters what’s potential.”

Jackson State defensive finish James Houston IV drew extra consideration from scouts than some other participant.

They had been intrigued by the 6-foot-1, 235-pounder, who had 16.5 sacks, 24.5 tackles for loss and an interception this previous season.

Houston, who transferred from Florida, began the season as an inside linebacker however the teaching employees moved him to defensive finish, and he grew to become a playmaker.

Houston did drills for each positions on Monday. The consensus amongst scouts is that he has extra potential at defensive finish than linebacker.

Houston has 36-inch arms, which excites scouts, as did his 39-inch vertical.

He did 23 reps on the bench press, however he ran slower than he needed within the 40-yard sprint — 4.63.

Clearly, although, he has intrigued scouts.

“I really like enjoying soccer,” Houston mentioned. “Whether or not you set me at linebacker or defensive finish, I’ll do no matter you want me to do.

“I like each positions. I don’t really feel like I do one higher than the opposite.”

Jean-Jacques Taylor, a local of Dallas, is an award-winning journalist who has lined the Dallas Cowboys and the NFL for 25 years and is president of JJT Media Group.

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