The newest HBCU alumni in NFL numbers are in and two trends continue. The number of players on opening day NFL rosters (33) continues to decline, while the number of players from the MEAC continue to compose a majority of those players.
The MEAC accounts for 19 of the HBCU products in the NFL, according to The Black College Sports Page. Twenty if you count Winston-Salem State’s William Hayes, who played in both the MEAC and the CIAA as the program attempted to move from Division I to Division II.
That represents a consistent changing of the guard from the past, where as recently as 1994 the SWAC was the clear leader in HBCU to NFL products. The SWAC is now producing just a third of the amount of players the MEAC is.
“I guess we’ve got better players in the MEAC right now,” SC State coach Buddy Pough said via The Undefeated. “As I see teams, I see programs and facilities, I see teams over on that side [SWAC] that have the potential to have good players just as we have. I just think maybe they haven’t had the success that we’ve had. We’ve had a little of an edge that way.”
How did we get here? There are a couple of changes that explain how the MEAC became the biggest exporter of HBCU talent in the NFL.
Lets start with location.
Redskins executive Doug Williams, who played and coached in the SWAC, credits less film on the conference’s players as reasons for the decline in its NFL numbers.
“I think the SWAC does not do what they should do in as far as sending video into the league so everybody can view it,” Williams said. “It’s awfully tough when people tell you about a player and you don’t have anything to go on.”
Perhaps even bigger than location or film, however, is the role of conference expansion.
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