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Florida A&M Pro Day makes big strides for HBCU football exposure

Posted at 11:54 PM, Mar 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-28 23:54:01-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — For years, there's been talks about the need for more exposure for HBCU athletics, from TV time to apparel deals, and when it comes specifically to football, exposure to NFL scouts. Florida A&M held their Pro Day on Monday, where that push to be seen has begun to pay off.

“It feels amazing. We are bringing change to HBCU. They’re not overlooking us anymore," Markquese Bell said on Monday. The Bridgeton, New Jersey native’s 4.41 40-yard dash time at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis drew a lot of attention to him and the school he represents. "The fact that we can be a part of that change is amazing."

Bell, alongside teammates like Savion Williams, Antwan Collier and others showed 30 NFL scouts on Monday afternoon that FAMU football can compete at the next level. It's a monumental moment that head coach Willie Simmons considers a long overdue achievement.

“Those guys have positioned themselves to be legitimate NFL prospects. They’ve opened some eyes as well. A few years ago we took a lot of heat because no scouts showed up today, 30 of 32 NFL scouts showed up today. So I consider that progress," Simmons said.

The question of how many Rattlers we’ll get to see in NFL locker rooms this season is still yet to be answered, but Williams wants to show organizations why he and so many guys from Florida A&M belong in the NFL.

“I’m trying to motivate my guys constantly. Whether it’s the quarterback, offensive line, long snapper. Making sure my guys are right beside me trying to get better," he said. "I'm a great caring and genuine dude who wants to get better everyday. And I promise you’re going to get that everyday.”