Another Quarterback with NFL Level Potential Pledges to Attend an HBCU...
Posted By: Will Moss on November 23, 2020 |
By David Waldstein
In the hallway of his family’s apartment in Valley Stream, N.Y., last month, Noah Bodden overturned a large green trash bag, spilling out several pounds of recruiting letters.
The envelopes bore the insignia of many prominent college football programs across the country, like Louisiana State, Baylor, Oregon, Tennessee and Arizona State. Some included handwritten notes from coaches to Bodden, one of the most promising high school quarterbacks in the country.
“You will make our team better the first day you step on campus,” one coach wrote.
It was all very flattering for Bodden (the first syllable “Bo” rhymes with “snow”), especially considering the power and prestige behind the outreach from teams that regularly play on national television and have extravagant facilities.
But in a surprising move, Bodden spurned them all. He pledged to go to Grambling State University, a historically Black college in rural Louisiana. Grambling has a rich football history, but like all H.B.C.U.s, it struggles to compete with the cachet and the financial advantages of major football powerhouses.
“I want to be a trendsetter,” Bodden said last month while sitting on a stoop across the street from his home. “I want to be like LeBron James and bring everybody with me.”
Bodden, 17, lives with his parents in a modest apartment above a check-cashing store. He worries about his homework, delivers food for Door Dash in his compact car and, by taking his talents to Grambling, is highlighting the growing appeal of H.B.C.U.s for many young athletes of color.
“It’s going to bring a lot of attention to Black colleges, and deservedly so,” said Doug Williams, who played for Grambling in the 1970s and in 1988 became the first Black quarterback to start in and win a Super Bowl. Three decades later, Williams is part of a scouting committee sponsored by the N.F.L. that is pushing to ensure that H.B.C.U.
players get fair consideration in the league’s annual draft.
Bodden, a senior at Christ the King High School in Queens, announced his decision in a splashy video in late September. It came a month after the police **** of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis., and four months after George Floyd was **** in police custody in Minneapolis. Those cases and others spawned widespread protests that extended to the sports realm.
Professional players in men’s and women’s basketball, baseball and soccer sat out games, and high school athletes took steps, as well. Among them was Makur Maker, a 6-foot-11 basketball recruit, who said he would attend Howard University instead of U.C.L.A. or Kentucky. A handful of other athletes in football and in men’s and women’s basketball also said they would go to H.B.C.U.s.
Black Lives Matter Protests Spawn Push for Athletes to Attend Historically Black Colleges
July 22, 2020
Bodden pledged to Grambling for similar reasons, in part to help broaden the appeal of H.B.C.U.s to elite nonwhite athletes, some of whom worry about being exploited at predominantly white universities even as they help raise the profiles and profits of those institutions.
“With the social unrest this summer, a lot of H.B.C.U.s have been getting transfers and contacted by players they wouldn’t have gotten before,” said B.J. Jones, a former linebacker at Southern University in Louisiana and a writer and commentator for the website HBCU Gameday. “I think a lot of kids are now thinking, ‘Hey, you can love my talent. But do you love my humanity?’”
Jones said he could not recall a recruit of Bodden’s stature from a northern city in the United States who had committed to a historically Black college. Most H.B.C.U. players come from within the schools’ general geographical footprint in the South. But Bodden, Jones said, should find Grambling to be welcoming.
Full Article - https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/23/sports/...
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