The NFL is here and week one is in the books. Although HBCU athletes may not be vastly featured throughout the 32 clubs, they make a big impact when they are.
These five players across the league played pivotal roles in their teams’ performances
Ryan Smith, CB (North Carolina Central)
Ryan Smith of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers showed his strength in the high scoring victory over New Orleans. Though this game was leaning more towards offense, Smith finished with four tackles and a pass deflection. His biggest play comes from recovering a fumble from the Saints.
Bucs force the game's second turnover, as LB Kwon Alexander causes a Michael Thomas fumble and C Ryan Smith recovers.
— Scott Smith (@ScottSBucs) September 9, 2018
Antoine Bethea, S (Howard)
Antoine Bethea stepped up big defensively during a long day for the Cardinals against the Redskins. The veteran set the tone by getting the first Arizona sack of the season on QB Alex Smith. Bethea finished the afternoon third in Arizona defensive stats with nine solo tackles and one tackle for a loss.
Cardinals safety Antoine Bethea from Newport News (Denbigh HS) with the sack. 34 years old, now in his 13th season, still got it. @WAVY_News pic.twitter.com/Ew7u8rQXHv
— Nathan Epstein (@Nathan_Epstein) September 9, 2018
Isiah Crowell, RB (Alabama State)
Crowell had himself a night for the Jets on Monday Night Football. In their dominant victory over Detroit, Crowell was the lead rusher for New York with 102 yards and two touchdowns with a 62-yard long cherry on top, the longest touchdown run on the road for the Jets. Crowell finished the night averages 10.2 yards per carry.
Another @IsaiahCrowell34 TD!@nyjets lead 48-17. #NYJvsDET #Jets
📺: ESPN pic.twitter.com/RYwi9qsnhb
— NFL (@NFL) September 11, 2018
Trent Cannon, RB (Virginia State)
The Jets backfield is locked and loaded with HBCU talent as rookie Trent Cannon also showed up in his first Monday Night Football debut. His impact went beyond carrying the ball, as he finished the night with 15 yards. Instead, he showed us how well-rounded of a back he is with some big blocks to help the Jets secure a punt return to the house for a touchdown.
I’m pretty sure that’s rookie running back @cannnon25 pancaking two #Lions to help free Andre Roberts. https://t.co/Z58A5gnpsV
— Connor Hughes (@Connor_J_Hughes) September 11, 2018
Tarik Cohen, RB (North Carolina A&T)
Chicago found passion and execution in Cohen. Bears fans love him, which explains why some were shocked to see he didn’t lead in carries in their narrow loss against Green Bay. Nonetheless, Cohen was solid, finishing the game with five carries and catching three-of-four targets for 41 total yards.
Just like Papa Bear drew it up. #Respect pic.twitter.com/xBiV6xT3iD
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) September 11, 2018