The importance of the superstar Black quarterback in major college football can never be understated especially if that star is attending an HBCU.
It’s the most important and most recognizable position in American team sports. This not only makes him an integral piece of his respective team but often it makes him a key part of the culture as well.
Over the years, the Black community has seen its fair share of electric talents dazzle audiences at PWIs and take their talents to the NFL but rarely have we seen a signal-caller at an HBCU be able to capture that same level of success in recent memory.
We are far removed from the days of Grambling State’s Doug Williams and Alcorn State’s Steve “Air” McNair, who were both Heisman Trophy contenders, drafted in the first round in 1978 and 1995 respectively. McNair, who was drafted third overall, was the highest-drafted Black quarterback in history up to that point.
The last notable HBCU quarterback to get drafted in the first two rounds was Alabama State’s Tarvaris Jackson, who was taken in the second round in 2006.
Now, with the current resurgence of HBCU football taking place and the emphasis on highlighting historically Black colleges and universities at the highest point we’ve ever seen, there is a need for another HBCU quarterback to be a prominent face in HBCU culture.
That quarterback could be Shedeur Sanders. The Jackson State University freshman just won the Jerry Rice Award for the top freshman in FCS football after leading his program to its first 11-win season in school history, first SWAC championship since 2007 and first Celebration Bowl appearance in the postseason. He’s the first-ever HBCU player to win the award, which is ironic because Rice went to Mississippi Valley State University, also a historically Black college.
Sanders threw for 3,056 yards, 29 touchdowns, and six interceptions while completing 68 percent of his passes this season. To put that in perspective, McNair threw for 2,895 yards and 24 touchdowns during his freshman campaign at Alcorn State University.
While Sanders has been successful on the field, it might be his youth and charisma that make him the perfect fit to lead the charge of being the next significant face of HBCU athletics. Earlier this season he became the youngest endorser for Beats by Dre at 19 years old. He already has over 424,000 followers on Instagram, which is more than six times the amount that Jackson State has on the platform.
Being the son of Deion Sanders most definitely plays a role in the level of recognition Shedeur has received early in his career but his play on the field can transform the narrative from being “Deion’s son” to “HBCU Football superstar”.
The young Jackson State star still has a lot of work to do to be able to catch the legends before him but he has the potential to be exactly what HBCU football needs right now.
Shedeur is a player who can become the next HBCU superstar quarterback and give HBCU athletics a face on the field, not just on the sidelines.