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Falcons Draft: Jerry Rice Praises Deion Sanders for Igniting Interest in HBCU Prospects

The Atlanta Falcons have an interest in a prospect from Jackson State University, and Jerry Rice credits Deion Sanders and Eddie George for HBCU's appeal ahead of the NFL Draft.
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The 2022 NFL Draft will feature an extensive number of prospects from Historically Black Colleges. The draft will be a significant win for HBCU schools, one year after the league failed to select a player from the program.

Pro Football Hall of Famers Deion Sanders (Jackson State) and Eddie George (Tennessee State) are changing the narratives surrounding HBCU programs since taking the helm as head coaches at their respective schools. 

Their desire to bring HBCU football back to prominent status is gaining an appreciation from Hall of Famer Jerry Rice. He is an HBCU alumnus who played his collegiate career at Mississippi Valley State University. The San Francisco 49ers drafted Rice with the No. 16 overall selection in 1985.

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"It has a lot to do with Deion Sanders and Eddie George to go and give back while setting a standard at these schools," Rice said during Tuesday's installment of Locked On Texans. "It started with Walter Payton. When I came into the league, I felt I had to carry that responsibility.

"If I was successful, other prospects were going to have the opportunity to have scouts come to their schools saying, 'Jerry Rice is being successful in the NFL, so we have to go look at some of these other players from different schools.'"

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Keith Corbin III is a highly sought-after prospect from an HBCU school entering the draft. He spent one season playing under Sanders at Jackson State University and established himself as one of the top wide receivers in his class. 

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Corbin notched a career-high 921 yards on 69 catches and seven touchdowns in 2021. A source told Falcon Report that the Atlanta Falcons are one of several teams that have spoken to Corbin. 

Texas Southern University's defensive end Michael Badejo is another promising HBCU prospect. Similar to Corbin, several teams have met with Badejo — whose projected selection is in the fifth round.

HBCU programs have produced some of the greatest players in NFL history. A few most noticeable alumni from HBCU schools are Pro Football Hall of Famers Coy Bacon, Michael Strahan, Doug Williams and the late-great Steve McNair.

The American Red Cross is working with Rice in April to encourage potential blood donors to consider giving blood for the first time. The Red Cross has experienced a 10 percent decline in donating blood since the beginning of the pandemic.

Beginning on April 19, all donors will enter a sweepstake for a chance to win a high-value exclusive giveaway package sponsored by Suburban Propane. Please visit www.redcrossblood.org/impact for more.