As draft day approaches and teams really begin to narrow their boards, one of the schools making the most noise is Hampton University. A I-AA HBCU in eastern Virginia, Hampton had five players invited to the combine.
Brand name schools that finished at the top of the polls, like USC and Wisconsin, simply can't match the talent output of the Pirates this year. USC had 4 invited to the combine and Wisconsin only 2. That gives credence to the idea that Hampton is ready to move up to compete with the big boys.
Tavaris Bain, a prospect at cornerback, left the University of Miami for the chance to be a Hampton Pirate. Knowing that getting on the field at the perennial MEAC powerhouse would lead to major exposure with the scouts.
“It says something about the talent and coaching we had,” said Bain. “We’re still at a disadvantage in some ways. If a team drafts a top player from Miami, nobody’s going to argue. If a team takes a player from a small school, immediately people ask more questions. But to have as many guys as we did at the combine, we had to be doing something right.”
We couldn't agree more. Although we would speak more plainly than young Mr. Bain and not sugar coat the "small school" reference. Change that to HBCU and you have the truth.
Boise St. is a smaller school that isn't a traditional football powerhouse. And, they aren't attracting the NFL talent that Hampton is, yet they were invited to play in a BCS bowl this year and beat Oklahoma. Imagine what Hampton could do, if given the chance, with 5 top prospects on their roster.
But, Hampton is an HBCU and will be relegated to invites to things like the Bayou Classic and other smaller venues. Locked out of the big money games they need to upgrade their facilities and seduce recruits away from Notre Dame, Florida and Texas.
Certainly, the NFL is fully aware of the talent. The reluctance of the big boys to schedule Hampton and the clearly formulated BCS manifesto to lock them out of the money bowls demonstrates, that without a doubt, the "elite" in college football are aligned in their effort to keep the HBCU from reaching the BCS promised land.
If Boise St., USC and Wisconsin could all have outstanding seasons and win big bowl games; imagine what Hampton could have done with the talent that those teams just can't match!