BASN NFL Draft Review: HBCU Draftees And Free Agents

By Tony McClean
Updated: May 3, 2006
NEW YORK — Here is a capsule look at the three HBCU players that were picked in last weekend’s NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall. They are listed in the order that they were picked
QB Tavaris Jackson, Alabama State
(2nd Round, 64th overall by Minnesota)
The skinny: During his three-year career at Alabama State, Jackson passed for 7,849 yards and 67 touchdowns while rushing for 982 yards and 11 scores. He led the Hornets to two SWAC Championship games, helping ASU win the title in 2004. He played in 36 games during that span, compiling a 24-12 record.
Notable: Jackson is the highest quarterback selected from Alabama State and is only the third player selected in the second round, joining DB Lester Simmons (Cleveland Browns, 1972), DT Curtis Green (Detroit Lions, 1981) and LB Eddie Robinson, Jr. (Houston Oilers, 1992). He’s also the first Alabama State player drafted by the NFL since former WR and current ASU assistant Reggie Barlow was selected in the fourth round in 1995.
Quotable: “This was a great selection by the Vikings. He (Jackson) has been a tremendous asset to not only Alabama State University and the football program, but to the Southwestern Athletic Conference and all HBCU’s. He’ll be a tremendous quarterback at the next level.” — Alabama State head coach Charles Coe.
DE Jason Hatcher, Grambling State
(3rd Round, 92nd overall by Dallas)
The skinny: The 6-foot-6, 283 pound native of Jena, La. was a key component on the GSU defensive line in 2005 finishing with 71 total tackles (49 solo) with 21.5 tackles for loss and 11.0 sacks. He had one forced fumble, 16 QB hurries, a pass breakup and a blocked kick.
Notable: Hatcher was named First Team All-SWAC, First Team Sports Network I-AA All-American and SBN Black College All-American last season. He also ran a 4.92 40-yard dash and recorded a vertical jump of 35.5 inches at the NFL Combine in February.
Quotable: “You try to slot him (Hatcher) into an Ohio State or some other school. Then you measure his athletic ability. When they measure up very well in that regard, then you feel like you have some upside with the player. When they measure up like that, you feel like here’s a lot of potential.” — Jeff Ireland, Dallas’ director of scouting.
DB Antoine Bethea, Howard University
(6th Round, 207th overall by Indianapolis)
The skinny: During his career at Howard, the Newport News, Va. native started 31 of 37 games, recorded 309 tackles, 187 of them solos, three sacks, 12 stops for losses, seven forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, 18 passes defended and a blocked kick. He finished his career with seven interceptions including four in 2005.
Notable: Bethea’s selection marked the second straight year that a Howard University player has been drafted. Cornerback Ronald Bartell, Jr. was drafted in the second round by the St. Louis Rams last season and ended up starting six games. The three-time SBN All-American was the third of four defensive players taken by the Colts during the draft.
Quotable: “We’re always trying to increase our speed and our toughness. I think we’ve done that. Defensively, I think we added to our speed and striking ability.” — Colts’ head coach Tony Dungy.
Grambling State’s record setting quarterback Bruce Eugene and Morehouse standout running back John David Washington are among several prominent HBCU players that were signed to free agent contracts after the draft
The SWAC Offensive Player of the Year and MVP of the SWAC Championship Game in 2005, Eugene completed his collegiate career with a run on the NCAA, school, and conference record books.
His 140 passing touchdowns broke the conference and NCAA Division I-AA marks set by former Mississippi Valley State standout Willie Totten (1982-85). His 56 TD passes this past season tied Totten’s 1984 single-season mark.
The son of actor Denzel Washington, John David had a school-record 1,198 yards with a 5.6-yard average and nine touchdowns, and added 10 receptions for 69 yards is senior year. He also ended his career as Morehouse’s single-game (242 yards) and career (3,699) leading rusher.
Here is a brief list of black college players that have signed free agent contracts as of Wednesday, May 3rd.
TITANS: OL Derrick Warfolk (Alabama State).
BENGALS: KR/WR Brandon Hussey (Winston-Salem State); DE Matt Duhe (Grambling State).
SAINTS: QB Bruce Eugene (Grambling State).
VIKINGS: OT Albert Stinson (Jackson State).
CHARGERS: CB Cletis Gordon (Jackson State).
STEELERS: S Jamar Landrom (Tennessee State).
TEXANS: LB Frederic Brock (Texas Southern).
RAMS: RB John David Washington (Morehouse College).