Hundreds of high school and junior college football players flocked to Lynwood High School to display their talents to HBCU football coaches at the second annual HBCU Combine and 7-on-7 showcase.
Over 30 coaches from junior colleges, Division I, II, and NAIA programs attended the event. Lincoln University, Elizabeth State and Virginia State University were some of the many HBCUs represented. National College Resources Foundation founder Dr. Theresa Price created the event.
Olympic Gold medalist Ron Brown and former Rams running back Greg Bell spoke with the young athletes and gave them advice on football and being a student athlete.
“We had NFL greats today out here, Super Bowl winners here,” Price said. “I’m excited that we can bring an event here where students can get another opportunity to get recruited to play the sport that they love.”
Lynwood Unified School District partnered with the NCRF, Lynwood High School principal Carlos Zaragoza sees the event as a “motivating factor” for underclassmen at his school.
“We get an opportunity to highlight our students,” he said. “We understand that athletics is a way that many of our students connect to school.”
Clark Atlanta offensive line coach Johnathan Carr was searching for flexible, coachable linemen with explosion and lateral movement.
“We’re looking more so for offensive linemen, defensive linemen, that’s what we need down at Clark Atlanta right now,” he said. “It’s some great talent and good numbers out here.”
Athletes participated in 40-second dash drills, one-on-one drills, linemen and other skill drills. If a player impressed one or more coaches, they were invited back the next day for the 7-on-7 showcase.
“I want to show them that I’m both strong, fast, I got a drive, I play with my hair on fire and I can come in and make an immediate impact,” said L.A. Harbor College player Ricky Powell.
Parents of players could watch the combine from the bleachers and Not Your Mama’s Chicken was a food vendor for attendees throughout the weekend.
Woodside Priory running back Keyshawn Ashford traveled from San Francisco to the combine. In the 2017 season, he gathered 1,484 total rushing yards and ran in 31 touchdowns.
“[My] family comes from an HBCU background,” Ashford said. “This event is important for me so I could get recognized by different college coaches and show my talent.”
Delaware State football head coach Rod Milstead graduated from the university to play in the NFL. His prosperous career included being a teammate of Jerry Rice and winning the 1994 Super Bowl.
“It gives the HBCUs the opportunity to showcase who we are and to let the West Coast understand that there is an option coming out of high school,” Milstead said.
Coaches stressed how playing for an HBCU exposes students to a more extensive look on Black History.
“It lets us know that they’re traveling,” said Antelope Valley college quarterback Armani Edden about the HBCUs. “They don’t just look at schools and kids in their area.”
The HBCU Combine also helped students improve their gameplay. West L.A. freshmen Christian Cooley learned that he must better his speed.
“I learned that I just need to have more intensity when I’m doing one-on-one’s,” Cooley said. “I see that coaches like intensity, so I’m [going to] step that us as well.”