Aqeel Glass didn't hear his name called alongside the four HBCU prospects drafted this year, but the Alabama A & M quarterback has accepted the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' invite to try out for the team at their rookie mini-camp.
The Buccaneers, 16/5 to win the NFC Championship, have the NFL's greatest Black representation among their senior coaching staff and were a logical choice for Glass when he began to receive calls following the completion of the 2022 draft.
The dual-threat QB, a two-time Black College Player of the Year and SWAC Offensive Player of the Year, threw for 36 touchdowns and nearly 3,600 yards in his final season with the Bulldogs.
Alabama A & M is among the country's historically Black colleges and universities and, over the last decade the number of players drafted from those schools has been dwindling.
Just 23 of the 2,549 players selected (0.9%) in the previous ten drafts have come out of HBCUs, despite both the NFL's highest-paid linebacker Darius Leonard and one of this off-season's most desirable free agents Terron Armstead taking that lightly-trodden path to the pros.
No HBCU prospect was drafted at all last year, the first time that happened since 1967, which makes this year's number of four selections a big step in the right direction for those championing these smaller-school prospects.
Joshua Williams was the first HBCU athlete off the draft board when the Kansas City Chiefs used their No. 135 overall pick on the Fayetteville State cornerback in the fourth round.
A few picks later at No. 142, South Carolina State corner Decobie Durant landed with the Super Bowl LVI champion Los Angeles Rams.
Jackson State linebacker James Houston IV - nicknamed "Thee Problem" for his ability to disrupt offenses - was taken by the Detroit Lions as the No. 217 overall selection before Southern University's offensive lineman Ja'Tyre Carter went in the seventh round.