Opportunity. The word has been frequently mentioned since the days of Eddie Robinson, referring to Doug Williams deserving a chance in the National Football League. The four HBCU players drafted in the 2022 NFL draft are making a case for themselves during their respective training camps.
Each athlete is battling to earn a spot on the 53-man rosters, and after the first week of training camp action, they are moving closer to making it a reality.
Decobie Durant has displayed his athletic ability and smarts for the game. James Houston has been in different defensive packages for the Detroit Lions. Joshua Williams is proving his speed and length can handle NFL receivers, and Ja'Tyre Carter is holding it down the Bears' line with his strength and versatility to protect quarterback Justin Fields.
Finally, they were not drafted, but the FAMU's Markquese Bell is rattlin' to make it in Big D with the Cowboys, and De'Saan Dixon is making plays at Jaguars camp.
HBCU ROOKIES MAKING A STATEMENT IN NFL TRAINING CAMPS
Joshua Williams: Fayetteville State - DB (#23, Kansas City Chiefs), 4th Rd, 135 Overall
“Yeah, I’ve got some young dudes back there. I’ll tell you what to be honest with you, that’s an exciting thing for me personally. I like working with these young guys. I’m not so sure I want so many at one time that we’re basically relying on, but I think Joshua (Williams) has done a very nice job. The one thing that Joshua does is that when we ask him to do something a certain way technique-wise, he goes right out there and tries to do that and he’s been doing it all the way through. There’s a learning curve there and there are going to be mistakes. I love the way he competes though.” Steve Spagnuolo - Chiefs Defensive Coordinator
Decobie Durant: South Carolina State - CB (#14, Los Angeles Rams) - 4th Rd, 142 Overall
"He just got a great play swagger. He's getting more and more comfortable. He is playing outside and inside, but he's getting a lot of work inside. And you can see there's a lot of nuances that we ask of that star position, and he's getting more comfortable every day and making a lot of plays." Sean McVay - Rams Head Coach
James Houston: Jackson State - LB/Edge Rusher ($41, Detriot Lions) - 6th Rd, 217 Overall
"I talked to a couple of people today that told me the best player on the field today was James Houston. The sixth-round pick from Jackson State. They put them on the edge a little bit, put them on the inside a little bit at linebacker, and made some plays. And that's good to hear. sixth round pat that you want to take a little flyer on. An athlete,...maybe James Houston can be an edge rusher. Sam linebacker that can help this team. But heard good things about James Houston today and that's a good sign." Mat Deary - LockedOn Lions Podcast
Ja'Tyre Carter: Southern - OL (#69, Chicago Bears) - 7th Rd, 226 Overall
"I mean you can definitely tell when a kid has raw talent, you can tell when a guy comes in and has talent enough to play in this league. I'm really happy with where they are and excited to see them continue to grow." Cody Whitehair - Chicago Bears - OL
Markquese Bell: Florida A&M - DB (#31, Dallas Cowboys) - Undrafted
Mike McCarthy on Cowboys rookie safety Markquese Bell: “He’s been extremely impressive. Of the rookie class, he’s clearly one of the top guys that jumped out in the offseason program. We felt right away that this young man has an excellent chance to do some excellent things.” Jon Machota - The Athletic
De'Shaan Dixon: Norfolk State - DE (#47, Jacksonville Jaguars) - Undrafted
“He’s done a nice job over the past few weeks of balancing out, understanding his role and understanding that he’s going to have to take those mental reps and when he does get on the field he plays all the way through the whistle," Shuey said. "His pursuit angles and everything has been really good with him.” Bill Shuey - Jaguars Outside Linebackers Coach
HBCU Legends will have more updates during the training camps until the final cuts for the 53-man rosters.
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