Twelve (12) former HBCU players in NFL camps were let go Tuesday as teams got down to the required 53-man limit.
Here is the complete list of those waived.
Before the cuts, there were 30 HBCU players in NFL camps. With the cuts, there are currently only 18 HBCU players left on rosters. That is down from the 22 that made opening day rosters in 2021.
The players waived can be signed to practice squads after 24 hours if they are not claimed by other teams.
Perhaps most surprising was that former Jackson State rookie linebacker James Houston, taken in the sixth round of the this year’s NFL Draft by Detroit, was waived by the Lions. It’s rare that drafted rookie players are waived.
Houston was taken by Detroit after posing 16 sacks at JSU last year, the second-best number in FCS football behind HBCU and FCS leader Isaiah Land of Florida A&M.
As reported on the Detroit Lions Wire, Houston was in the midst of a positional transition that began when he left Florida for JSU. He was an off-ball linebacker for the Gators but moved to stand-up pass rusher at JSU under head coach Deion Sanders.
The Lions used Houston almost exclusively as a weakside DE in the 4-man front, but his lack of size and pass rushing polish were problematic.
HBCU NFL draftees safe
The other three former HBCU players taken in the 2022 Draft came through on final cuts. Fayetteville State DB Joshua Williams made Kansas City’s roster. SC State DB Cobie Durant made the final cut of the LA Rams. Southern OT Ja’Tyre Carter was retained by Chicago. Williams and Durant were taken in the fourth round. Carter went to the Bears in the seventh round.
Both Williams and Durant were given plenty of opportunities to showcase their skills and they came through. In games this past week, Williams had five tackles vs. Green Bay while Durant started and posted three tackles vs. Cincinnati.
HBCU NFL veterans cut
North Carolina A&T veterans Mac McCain III and Darryl Johnson were released by Philadelphia and Carolina respectively. Former Virginia State running back Trenton Cannon and former Southern DB Danny Johnson were released by Tennessee and Washington.
Lachavious Simmons, an offensive tackle out of Tennessee State, was the only HBCU player taken in the 2020 NFL Draft. He was released by Chicago.
Darryl Johnson spent most of last season on Carolina’s practice squad after being picked up from Buffalo where he spent two seasons. McCain bounced between Denver and Philadelphia last season before settling on the Eagles’ practice squad.
Cannon and Danny Johnson, both in their fifth seasons, had survived based on their special teams’ play. Neither had proven themselves as every down players but had excelled as kick returners.
The biggest winners were the undrafted rookie free agents who made it through Tuesday.
They include former Florida A&M safety Markquese Bell and former Norfolk State pass rusher De’Shaan Dixon. Bell made the Dallas Cowboys 53-man roster. Dixon earned a spot with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Both were impressive in the preseason when given playing time and added an exclamation point with outstanding outings this week.
in their last preseason games this week. Bell picked off a pass and had four solo tackles Friday in the Cowboys finale vs. Seattle.
Dixon led the Jags with eight tackles including a sack and another tackle for loss in their game vs. Atlanta. They were selected as the HBCU NFL Defensive Players of the Week for their play.