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Published: Feb. 10, 2014 at 04:08 p.m.
Updated: Feb. 10, 2014 at 04:15 p.m.

NFL players from historically black colleges

The NFL celebrates Black History Month with a look at some of the top NFL players from historically black colleges.

30 Photos Total

  • Hugh Douglas  - Central State 30

    Bill Kostroun/Associated Press

    Hugh Douglas - Central State

    Douglas was a two-time All-American at Central State (OH). The New York Jets selected him in the first round of the 1995 NFL Draft. He was selected as the Associated Press NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, but he really earned most of his accolades after he was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles in 1998. He was selected to three consecutive Pro Bowls from 2000 to 2002.

  • Nick Collins - Bethune-Cookman 29

    Kathy Willens/Associated Pres

    Nick Collins - Bethune-Cookman

    Collins was a second-round pick of the Green Bay Packers in 2005 out of Bethune-Cookman. Collins had a career-high seven interceptions in 2008, and led the league with three interception returns for touchdowns and 295 interception return yards. He was selected to the Pro Bowl in three consecutive years between 2008 to 2010. He is currently attempting a return to the NFL after a neck injury.

  • Donald Driver - Alcorn State 28

    Matt Ludtke/Associated Press

    Donald Driver - Alcorn State

    Driver was a seventh-round selection of the Green Bay Packers out of Alcorn State in 1999 and he would go on to have one of the most prolific careers in club history. He retired as the Packers' all-time leader in receptions and receiving yards and was also selected to three Pro Bowls during his 14-year career. The capper, no doubt, was being a member of the Packers' Super Bowl XLV championship team.

  • Robert Porcher - South Carolina State 27

    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    Robert Porcher - South Carolina State

    The Detroit Lions selected Porcher out of South Carolina State in the first round of the 1992 NFL Draft and he would go on to play in three Pro Bowls in 1997, 1999 and 2001. Porcher notched double digit sacks five times during his 12-year career with the Lions. His finest season was perhaps 1999 when he logged a career-high 15 quarterback takedowns.

  • Ben Coates - Livingstone College 26

    James Rogash/Associated Press

    Ben Coates - Livingstone College

    Coates was one of the most prolific receiving tight ends of his era. Coates spent the majority of his career with the New England Patriots after the team selected him in the fifth round of the 1991 NFL Draft out of Livingstone College. Coates set an NFL record for tight ends when he caught 96 passes in 1994, a record that has since been broken. He was selected to the first of five Pro Bowls after his breakout 1994 season. Coates finished his career with the Baltimore Ravens in 2000 and was a member of their Super Bowl XXXV championship team.

  • Everson Walls - Grambling State 25

    National Football League

    Everson Walls - Grambling State

    Walls was an undrafted free agent out of Grambling State in 1981, but he made an immediate impact for the Dallas Cowboys as he led the NFL with 11 interceptions during his rookie season. He again led the league with seven interceptions the following year and he had a league-high nine interceptions for the Cowboys in 1985. Walls reached the pinnacle of the NFL as a member of the Super Bowl XXV champion New York Giants.

  • Steve McNair - Alcorn State 24

    National Football League

    Steve McNair - Alcorn State

    "Air" McNair went to Alcorn State because it gave him the chance to play quarterback and he would go on to have one of the most decorated collegiate careers in history. The Houston Oilers noticed and selected him third overall in the 1995 NFL Draft. McNair studied from the sidelines for two years but would eventually lead the team to its first Super Bowl in franchise history in 1999. His best season came in 2003, when he was selected as the Associated Press NFL Most Valuable Player after throwing for 3,215 yards, 24 touchdowns and just seven interceptions.

  • Doug Williams - Grambling State 23

    National Football League

    Doug Williams - Grambling State

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers opened their franchise history with 26 consecutive losses in 1976 and 1977. Williams had the team in the NFC Championship Game one year after being the 17th overall selection in the 1978 NFL Draft. Williams' career would take a strange turn, namely to the United States Football League a few years later, but he would ultimately find success with the Washington Redskins. Williams led Washington to a victory over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXII and was selected the game's most valuable player.

  • Robert Mathis - Alabama A&M 22

    AJ Mast/Associated Press

    Robert Mathis - Alabama A&M

    Mathis set a record with 20 sacks for Alabama A&M during his senior season and that caught the eye of the Indianapolis Colts, who selected him in the fifth round of the 2003 NFL Draft. He shows no signs of slowing down as he turned in perhaps his finest professional performance with 19.5 sacks in 2013. For that, Mathis was selected as the first-ever recipient of the Deacon Jones Award as the league's sack leader. He is also now a member of the exclusive 100-sack club, as well as a six-time Pro Bowl selection.

  • John Taylor - Delaware State 21

    National Football League

    John Taylor - Delaware State

    Taylor played for years on the other side of Jerry Rice, but he was anything but ordinary. Taylor was a third-round pick of the San Francisco 49ers out of Delaware State in 1986 and had a number of huge receptions for the 49ers. Taylor had two touchdown receptions of more than 90 yards in one game against the Los Angeles Rams on Dec. 11, 1989. But his biggest catch was a 10-yard strike from Joe Montana for the winning score in Super Bowl XXIII.

  • Ed 20

    Bill Haber/Associated Press

    Ed "Too Tall" Jones - Tennessee State

    Jones was a member of the famed "Doomsday Defense" of the Dallas Cowboys of the 1970s, after the team selected him with the first-overall selection in the 1974 NFL Draft. Jones went to Tennessee State to play basketball, but decided to concentrate on football. And it was Cowboys roster architect Gil Brandt who saw that this former hoops player could be a standout NFL star. Brandt was right, as Jones was a three-time Pro Bowl player for the Cowboys.

  • Greg Lloyd - Fort Valley State 19

    Mark Duncan/Associated Press

    Greg Lloyd - Fort Valley State

    Lloyd was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the sixth round of the 1987 NFL Draft out of Fort Valley State. After a few injury-plagued years to start his NFL career, he became one of the leaders of the famed "Blitzburgh" defense of the 1990s. Lloyd would go on to five consecutive Pro Bowl selections from 1991 to 1995. He was also a key member of the Steelers' 1995 AFC Championship team which lost to the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl XXX.

  • Robert Brazile - Jackson State 18

    National Football League

    Robert Brazile - Jackson State

    Brazile was the 1975 Associated Press NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year after the Houston Oilers selected him sixth overall out of Jackson State (where he was a teammate of Walter Payton). Brazile would play his entire career with the Oilers and would be selected to seven Pro Bowls. Brazile was one of the most feared linebackers of his era and was a member of the NFL's All-Decade Team of the 1970s.

  • Nate Newton - Florida A&M 17

    National Football League

    Nate Newton - Florida A&M

    The undrafted star out of Florida A&M took a long and winding road to NFL stardom. Newton started his career with the Washington Redskins in 1983 and had a stop with the Tampa Bay Bandits of the USFL (1984-85) before he found success with the Dallas Cowboys in the late 1980s. Of course, it was as one of the lead blockers for Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith where he found the most success. Smith would go on to be a six-time Pro Bowler and three-time Super Bowl champion running behind Newton.

  • Aeneas Williams - Southern University 16

    Dave Kennedy/Associated Press

    Aeneas Williams - Southern University

    Williams is one of the newest members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame after a standout career with the Arizona Cardinals and St. Louis Rams. Not bad for a guy who didn't play football at Southern until his senior season. The Cardinals drafted him in the third round of the 1991 NFL Draft and quarterbacks quickly learned to avoid him. He led the league with nine interceptions in 1994 and went on to be selected to eight Pro Bowls.

  • Michael Strahan - Texas Southern 15

    Bill Kostroun/Associated Press

    Michael Strahan - Texas Southern

    Like Williams, Strahan is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2014. Strahan was a second-round selection of the New York Giants out of Texas Southern in the 1993 NFL Draft. He quickly became one of the most-feared pass rushers as he twice led the league in sacks. His biggest season came in 2001 when he set the NFL single-season record with 22.5 sacks and won the Associated Press NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award. Strahan also went out on top as the Giants bested the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.

  • Harry Carson - South Carolina State 14

    National Football League

    Harry Carson - South Carolina State

    Carson won back-to-back conference player of the year honors at South Carolina State and the New York Giants selected him in the fourth round of the 1976 NFL Draft. Carson was one of the anchors of the devastating Giants defense of the 1980s, and he would go on to earn nine Pro Bowl selections. Carson helped lead the Giants to an overwhelming victory in Super Bowl XXI. He was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006.

  • Shannon Sharpe - Savannah State 13

    National Football League

    Shannon Sharpe - Savannah State

    Sharpe retired as the greatest pass-catching tight end in NFL history as the record-holder in receptions (815), yards (10,060) and touchdowns (62). Not bad for a seventh-round draft pick out of Savannah State in 1990. Sharpe helped lead the Broncos to back-to-back Super Bowl wins, but he put a stamp on his NFL career as a key-member of the Super Bowl XXXV champion Baltimore Ravens in 2000. Sharpe was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2011.

  • Rayfield Wright - Fort Valley State 12

    National Football League

    Rayfield Wright - Fort Valley State

    Wright was another find by Brandt, who saw a lot athleticism in the "Big Cat" as he selected him in the seventh round of the 1967 NFL Draft. Wright was put all over the field for the Dallas Cowboys during those early years, as he lined up at tight end and defensive end before he found a home at tackle. Of course, his first assignment was the legendary Deacon Jones. Wright more than held his own, as he would go on to be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006.

  • Bob Hayes - Florida A&M 11

    National Football League

    Bob Hayes - Florida A&M

    Brandt found another gem in Hayes, who was a standout track star at Florida A&M, a two-time Olympic Gold medalist and the "World's Fastest Human." Many questions lingered if Hayes could make the transition to pro football, but he changed the way the game was played. He led the NFL with 12 and 13 receiving touchdowns respectively in his first two seasons. After many years of being shut out, Hayes was enshrined posthumously as a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 2009.

  • Larry Little - Bethune-Cookman 10

    National Football League

    Larry Little - Bethune-Cookman

    Little started his career without much fanfare after he signed with the San Diego Chargers in 1967 as an undrafted free agent out of Bethune-Cookman. But it was a trade to the Miami Dolphins in 1969 which really took Little's career to new heights. Little was a key member of the Dolphins' ground attack of the 1970s, leading the way for a bevy of running backs. The Dolphins would win back-to-back Super Bowl titles in the 70s, including a perfect season in 1972.

  • Mel Blount - Southern University 9

    National Football League

    Mel Blount - Southern University

    Blount was one of the most feared members of the famed Pittsburgh Steelers' defense of the 1970s, a perfect combination of size (he stood 6-foot-3) and speed. He was a third-round draft pick out of Southern in 1970, and few teams dared look his way during his career. He led the league with 11 interceptions in 1975 and finished with 57 in his career. Blount would go on to win four Super Bowl championships with the Steelers and was selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1989.

  • L.C. Greenwood - Arkansas-Pine Bluff 8

    Associated Press

    L.C. Greenwood - Arkansas-Pine Bluff

    Greenwood was one of the founding members of the "Steel Curtain," the rugged front four of the Pittsburgh Steelers defense of the 1970s. Greenwood was a 10th-round selection out of Arkansas-Pine Bluff in the 1969 NFL Draft, and he would go on to earn his first of six Pro Bowl bids in 1973. Known for wearing gold shoes, Greenwood would win four Super Bowl championships with the Steelers and unofficially had four sacks of Roger Staubach in Super Bowl X. He was a member of the NFL's All-Decade Team of the 1970s.

  • John Stallworth - Alabama A&M 7

    Associated Press

    John Stallworth - Alabama A&M

    Stallworth's numbers might look pedestrian when you compare them to the pass-happy compilations of this era, but he saved his best for the big games. The former fourth-round pick out of Alabama A&M had 12 postseason touchdowns in his career and a reception in 17 consecutive postseason games. He had a 73-yard touchdown reception against the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl XIV to help break the game wide open as the Pittsburgh Steelers rallied in the fourth quarter to win.

  • Art Shell - University of Maryland Eastern Shore 6

    National Football League

    Art Shell - University of Maryland Eastern Shore

    Shell was considered the dominant offensive lineman of his era after the Oakland Raiders selected him with a third-round draft pick out of University of Maryland Eastern Shore in the 1968 NFL Draft. Shell was a dominant force for the Raiders in the 1970s, and he helped contain Hall of Famer Jim Marshall in Oakland's victory in Super Bowl XI. Shell was given football's highest honor when he was selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1989.

  • Jackie Slater - Jackson State 5

    National Football League

    Jackie Slater - Jackson State

    It's hard to find many linemen who did it better, or longer, than Slater. He was a third-round pick of the Los Angeles Rams in the 1976 NFL Draft, after a standout career at Jackson State. Slater really stood out on the Rams' offense line when they led the way for Eric Dickerson, who set an NFL-rookie record with 1,808 rushing yards in 1983 and followed it up with an NFL-record 2,105 rushing yards the next year. Slater became a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2001.

  • Richard Dent - Tennessee State 4

    National Football League

    Richard Dent - Tennessee State

    It's hard to imagine a better two-year run for a defensive end than Dent had in 1984 and 1985. He had 34.5 sacks (including a club record 17.5 in 1984) and topped it off by being selected as the MVP of Super Bowl XX. Dent and his Bears teammates were at the top of their game during the 1980s. Quite an accomplishment for a player who was drafted in the eighth round out of Tennessee State in 1983. Dent was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2011.

  • Walter Payton - Jackson State 3

    Fred Jewell/Associated Press

    Walter Payton - Jackson State

    Payton is arguably the greatest running back of all time. What can't be argued is Payton retired as the game's all-time leading rusher with 16,726 rushing yards. Many of those yards came during some of the dark years in Chicago Bears history, when the only reason to watch the team was to see "Sweetness" run past, through and over helpless defenders. However, redemption would come for the former first-round draft pick from Jackson State. The 1985 Bears have been revered as one of the greatest teams in NFL history after a 46-10 victory over the Patriots in Super Bowl XX. Payton was their leading rusher.

  • Jerry Rice - Mississippi Valley State 2

    National Football League

    Jerry Rice - Mississippi Valley State

    The Mississippi Valley State standout was voted the greatest player in NFL history during NFL Network's "The Top 100: NFL's Greatest Players." And it's easy to see why. Rice retired as the leader in just about every major receiving category, and led the NFL in receiving touchdowns six times during his NFL career. Rice was also a three-time Super Bowl champion, reached another Super Bowl with the Raiders and was a member of the NFL's All-Decade team of both the 1980s and 1990s. He is often referred to as the GOAT (greatest of all-time).

  • Deacon Jones - Mississippi Valley State 1

    National Football League

    Deacon Jones - Mississippi Valley State

    Jones was merely an afterthought when the Los Angeles Rams drafted him in the 14th-round of the 1961 NFL Draft out of Mississippi Valley State. But he quickly became one of the most feared defenders in NFL history. Using a dreaded "head-slap" to neutralize offensive lineman, Jones had a knack for tackling the quarterback behind the line of scrimmage, which is what it was commonly referred to until Jones coined the phrase "sack." Jones was selected to the Hall of Fame in 1980. Following his death in 2013, the NFL created the Deacon Jones Award in his honor, which is given to the NFL sack leader each year.

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