A Very American Coup By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor-in-Chief...
Six HBCU Players Get The Call In The NFL Draft
NEW YORK — Last year, two only HBCU football players (Hampton DE Isaac Hilton and Southern DB Lenny Williams) were picked in the NFL Draft. The pair went in consecutive picks (Williams at 252nd overall to Tampa; Hilton at 253 by the Giants) in last year’s seventh round.
The former track star led the nation with a 35.5-yard average on kickoff returns in 2004, and set an NCAA season record by returning five for touchdowns. Unlike the many track-stars-turned-football-players, though, Mathis is a football player first.
“As I look at Jerome, I see a player with rare talent,” Texans head coach Dom Capers said. “He’s not only a speed guy, a track guy. What you see on tape is a football player. I think he can help us in multiple situations, as a receiver, return specialist and he has the type of toughness that he can go out there on special teams and run down the field as a gunner (on punt coverage).”
Outside linebacker and defensive end Kenneth Pettway rounded out the Texans’ draft picks in the seventh round (227th overall). After starting his collegiate career at Southern Arkansas, Pettway, a 6-foot-3, 236 pounder, transferred to Grambling State.
He picked up All-SWAC first-team honors in 2004 after leading the Tigers with 8.5 sacks and 16 tackles for loss. He also blocked two kicks on special teams.
Pettway follows in the footsteps of Jason Babin and Charlie Anderson, two Texans who also had to make the conversion to outside linebacker in a 3-4 alignment. “You can never have enough of these types of players in this defense,” Capers added.
“When you get to this point in the draft, you are always looking for somebody who has the athletic ability to rush the passer. Charlie Anderson, an undersized end from a year ago, came in and we feel good about his progress. Many times, you can find conversion players at this point in the draft who have athletic ability.”
Tuskegee wideout Henry Williams was the last black college player selected Sunday. The former Wildcat was chosen in the seventh round (240th overall) by the New York Jets. He finished his four-year stay at Tuskegee with 84 receptions for 1,609 yards and 8 touchdowns, averaging 19.2 yards per catch.
The 6-foot-3, 180-pound Williams had his best year as a senior in 2004 with 43 catches for 678 yards (15.8 avg) and three scores. As a freshman in 2001, he averaged 24.9 yards on 10 receptions, and then rivaled that average again as a junior with a 23.2 mark on 27 catches for 626 yards.
The TU standout wasn’t shy about his feelings on being drafted by Gang Green. “I told them whoever drafted me was going to get a steal . . . and they got a steal”, said Williams.
Keep checking in with BASN later this week as we give you a comprehensive look at all the black college players that will be picked as NFL free agents.
NOTE: NFL.com, The St. Louis News-Dispatch, The Green Bay Gazette, and The Houston Chronicle all contributed to this story.