Photo courtesy of JaQuil Capel

Jaquil Capel: NC A&T Alum

I chose A&T because…

North Carolina A&T was one of the schools with the most consistent family atmosphere surrounding the Carolina’s. I was a graduate transfer in 2017, and I wanted to play my final year out for a HBCU. Two HBCUs reached out immediately and made offers, NCCU and North Carolina A&T. I had been previously recruited by North Carolina A&T in high school and I knew their staff well: Coach Broadway, Coach Shawn Gibbs, Coach Washington and Coach Hester.

I was not familiar with the Central guys, but I took a visit anyway to hear them out. When I entered the transfer portal, I was content on joining the Aggie family because I thought highly of their staff and the team they had assembled. It is the reason we went undefeated, 12-0 MEAC champions and national champions.

The most challenging part about going to North Carolina A&T was not being on televised games as much. The most rewarding thing was earning our way onto some televised games and even ranking in the top five in the nation. From the football staff to the academic support staff, everybody treated you like family. It was like having a bunch of new uncles, aunties and cousins.

It’s gametime

The game day atmosphere was ecstatic; running out to the best band, the crowd going crazy and swag surfing was an amazing experience. You had no choice but to feel pressure to perform and get things done. My best game day memory is from the Aggie-Eagle Classic in 2017. We were playing at home for a chance to go undefeated and go to the National Championship game.

During warm-ups, the crowd was tense, and both teams were jawing back and forth, from the time we saw each other. We had to be separated twice before the opening kick-off, and the crowd was as divided as I had ever seen them. Half the stadium was blue and gold and the other half was red. You could feel the dislike between both programs in the air, but there was no love lost between the two sides. Once the game had started, it was a hard hitting back-and-forth game until we started to separate ourselves. A couple big time plays from the defense and one-handed catches, later the Eagles were calling it quits, and the party was just getting started.

The students stormed the field celebrating. Film crews and teachers all jumped up and down after the huge win. We celebrated with our classmates in the middle of our field, dancing with the trophy and fans. It was a historic moment, leading into three back-to-back national championship runs. I am looking forward to a hard hitting battle between the two teams this year. I am also looking forward to seeing a lot of familiar faces and enjoying the gamesmanship of the two historic programs.

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