The National Football League (NFL) has announced they would be hosting their first Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) scouting combine in March offering exposure to NFL prospects who are eligible for the draft but were not formally invited to the annual Scouting Combine.
The HBCU combine, announced Feb. 13, is the NFL’s “intentional” initiative to bring professional opportunities to students of color. These opportunities are not exclusive to NFL draft pick slots but are available to students seeking off the field career opportunities, according to reports.
The combine this year will be a part of the two new NFL combine series introduced this year, the Regional Combine Invitational and the HBCU Combine. Both combines will be held from March 27-29 at the Miami Dolphins’ Baptist Health Training Facility.
Per the NFL website, The NFL’s partnership with HBCUs works to celebrate history, increase opportunities and “provide access to the business of sport and equips HBCU students with the skills needed to work in professional football administration.”
On Friday, March 27 the HBCU Combine will host measurements and interviews with players while work on-field workouts will be held on Saturday, March 28.
According to Troy Vincent, former player and vice president of football operations for the NFL, “We're working together to honor the rich history and provide opportunities to students and administrators from these great institutions.”
Vincent also said during the combine, “HBCU athletes will experience a world-class on-field evaluation of their talent by NFL scouts. In addition, NFL Legends and club personnel will network with 2020 Draft prospects and drive awareness of opportunities to be involved in professional football beyond the playing field.”
There is no minimum or maximum number of athletes that will be invited per university. Invitations will be consistent with normal combine invite strategies, including compiling recommendations through NFL club scouts, coaches and league personnel.
Invitations to the combine are expected to go out to athletes next week.
The 2020 HBCU combine is the newest initiative made by the NFL to connect HBCU students with professional opportunities.
In 2016, The NFL partnered with two HBCU football conferences, Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) and Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) and has now extended partnership to two more conferences. They are the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) and the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA).
“NFL Legends and club personnel will network with 2020 Draft prospects and drive awareness of opportunities to be involved in professional football beyond the playing field,” said Vincent.
Previously, in partnership with several HBCUs across the country, the NFL has hosted a national HBCU Careers in Football forum, an HBCU campus connection program, the NFL Rhoden Fellows program for student sports reporters, the HBCU battle of the brains competition and an Advocacy in Sports workshop.