Of the 1,696 players in the NFL, only 31 are from Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Four of them will be competing in the Super Bowl this Sunday.
From a practice squad standout to a former Pro Bowler, both the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs have utilized HBCU players in hopes of winning a championship.
Here are the players below:
Javon Hargrave Defensive Tackle – South Carolina State
The Salisbury, N.C. native was a member of the South Carolina State football team from 2012 to 2015.
During his time in Orangeburg, S.C., he tied a Football Champion Subdivision (FCS) record with six sacks in one game.
He finished third among the FCS with 16 sacks as a junior in 2014 and was named a First-team All-MEAC.
In his senior season, he tallied 59 total tackles, 22 tackles for losses, 13.5 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles, earning second consecutive First-team All-conference.
He was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft. In March 2020, he signed with the Philadelphia Eagles, earning his first Pro Bowl selection in 2021.
This season, he had 31 tackles, 11 sacks and a forced fumble.
Mac McCain, defensive back – North Carolina A&T
McCain played with the Aggie football program from 2017 to 2020.
After going unselected in the 2021 NFL Draft, McCain was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Denver Broncos.
He spent time on the Broncos’ practice squad before being claimed and signed to Philadelphia’s active roster in Sept. 2021.
McCain made his NFL debut in week three, playing 13 special teams snaps in the 21–41 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. He was released on Nov. 9.
He had another brief stint on the Broncos practice squad, before being re-signed to the practice squad ahead of the 2022 season.
Kansas City Chiefs:
Josh Williams, defensive back – Fayetteville State
Williams attended Fayetteville State University from 2018 to 2022.
In 2021, his senior season, Williams finished the season with 31 tackles, nine passes defended and three interceptions in nine games.
He was selected by the Chiefs with the 135 pick in the fourth round of the 2022 NFL draft.
Williams has been an impact player on the defense, earning 27 tackles.
The rookie cornerback grabbed a tipped Joe Burrow pass late in the fourth quarter for a game-clinching interception in the AFC Championship game.
Bryan Cook, Safety – Howard/Cincinnati
Cook spent two years at Howard (2017-2018) before transfering to the University of Cincinnati in 2019.
He played in 11 games (with 1 start) over the next two seasons before earning a full-time role in 2021.
Cook racked up 96 tackles in his lone season as a starter for the Bearcats, tallying five tackles-for-loss, a sack, 11 passes defensed and two interceptions, earning First Team All-AAC honors.
He was selected by the Chiefs as the 30th pick in the second round of the 2022 NFL draft.
This season, he tallied 21 tackles and sacks.
In addition to the players, several coaches and front office personnel with HBCU backgrounds will be on the sport’s biggest stage.