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MORSE: HBCU Legacy Bowl Report and NFL Combine Boycott Avoided

Mark Morse
Mark Morse on Twitter
February 22, 2022 at 12:51 pm ET

MORSE: HBCU Legacy Bowl Report and NFL Combine Boycott Avoided(PHOTO: USA Today - USA TODAY Sports)

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Antwan Collier CB Florida A&M  Defensive MVP with 9 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss.    Collier was a transfer from the University of Central Florida, where he played for 4 years and was a two-year starter.  Collier was involved in a traffic stop where he was the driver.  A subsequent search of the vehicle uncovered three weapons, two of which were registered to his teammate and allowed to be carried as concealed weapons.  The third was under the driver’s seat.  Collier was charged with “carrying a firearm without a license”.  This incident forced Collier to transfer to Florida A&M.  The court case has not been resolved, and until it is I don’t believe any NFL will use a draft pick on Collier.  They may sign him as a UDFA.

When Patriots JC Jackson came out for the draft, he faced criminal charges in Florida for Armed Robbery.  He was acquitted of any wrongdoing in a 2015 trial.  Jackson transferred to Maryland following the acquittal and played two years for the Terps, foregoing his final year.  NFL teams didn’t use a draft pick on him and the Patriots were able to sign him to an Undrafted Free Agent contract.

Tennessee State quarterback Geremy Hickbottom was named Offensive Most Valuable Player as he helped Team Gaither to a resounding 22-6 win over Team Robinson.  A 4-year starter at Grambling, Hickbottom transferred to Tennessee State for his final year to play for former NFL Head Coach Hue Jackson and former NFL great RB Eddie George.  This was a key move for Hickbottom because he got to play in a Pro-Style offense with the QB under center.  Most college QBs play in spread offenses and take most snaps in the shotgun.

Hickbottom was 9 of 15 for 72 yards and rushed five times for 25 yards and a 3-yard score with 9:18 to go in the game. He was one of three quarterbacks who had a hand in Team Gaither touchdowns, though, as it largely dominated Team Robinson.

After a slow and scoreless start, Chowan University’s Bryce Witt (15 of 21 for 131 yards and a touchdown, three carries for 32 yards) led Team Gaither into the end zone on a 65-yard drive that took over 9 minutes.  Witt was 7 of 8 passing and completed passes to 6 different receivers on that drive.  He also ran 3 times for 32 yards.

Controversy followed Bryce Witt’s invitation to play in the HBCU Legacy Bowl.  Witt, who is white, played for Chowan University, a D II school in the CIAA conference.  It was not the color of his skin that was the controversy, but the fact that Chowan is not a traditional HBCU school.  However, the conference they play in is!

Witt was the conference Offensive Player of the Year.  As such he should have been invited to play since the conference is a traditionally HBCU conference.  Witt’s numbers are off the charts.  He threw for a career 9448 yards, completion % of 61.33, 99 TD passes, 39 INTs, and 41 rushing TDs in his 4 years in Murfreesboro North Carolina.  Witt is 6’2” 240 lbs and runs a 4.86 40.  He should be on the Patriot’s priority UDFA list.  In my opinion, Witt should have been the Offensive MVP, but there was no way he was getting the award considering the controversy of him just being there!

Other players of note included:

Derrick Mayweather LB Florida A&M, who had six tackles

Da’Shaan Dixon Edge Norfolk State; four tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, pass breakup.  I liked the way he played the Run Pass Option, holding his position and not chasing.  Great 1st step.  He reminded me of former Dolphin all-time sack leader Jason Taylor.

Marquis McClain WR Southern University; seven receptions for 84 yards.  McClain is a big WR that was used all over the field and played some TE.  His best position may be as a move TE.

Alabama A&M quarterback Aqeel Glass entered with the most fanfare. Having won the last two Black College Football Player of the Year accolades, Glass boasts good size (6 foot 5, 215 pounds), great leadership, and a strong arm. Unfortunately, he turned in a subpar outing Saturday, starting the day just 1 of 5 and finishing it 4 of 15 for 51 yards, no touchdowns, and a 55.2 rating for Team Robinson

Another player I liked was Fayetteville State Strong Safety Elvin DeLarosa, 5’11”, 195lbs, 4.68 40 (estimate).  He had a Forced Fumble / Tackle for loss coming up for a big hit on an RB Ezra Gray.  He made several other plays and he flashed in the game.  He did not run at the Senior Bowl /HBCU combine, but he did post 21 reps at 225 lbs.  That’s very strong for a DB.  We will have to wait for Pro Day numbers to confirm speed and other numbers.

Chris Meyers DE Norfolk State, 6’6” 245 lbs turned heads with his athletic performance during the Senior Bowl / HBCU combine.  He followed that up with a great week of practice.  He should be a Priority Un-Drafted Fee Agent.

Combine Boycott Threat Serves Its Purpose

The NFL made some last-minute changes on Saturday to their annual meat market known as the NFL Draft Combine.  They were going to make it a “bubble” limiting access and freezing out the personal entourage of medical, massage therapists, nutritionists, etc the players have.  Several agents have convinced their clients to boycott next week’s NFL Combine if the NFL insists to limit the player access to the “COVID Bubble”.  They estimated 150 players are threatening to attend the medical evaluations only.  The NFL came to their senses and have rescinded the “bubble” edict.  Players were also upset about having to do the weight lifting the same day they were to do field drills (running).  I don’t know if that got resolved, but the Underwear Olympics are on for next week starting on Tuesday, March 1st.

Five Things to Know: Patriots and NFL Thoughts for 2/23

About Mark Morse

Merrimack Valley native and lifelong fan of the New England Patriots. My earliest memories of the Patriots were attending as a child with my dad, the off-season practice at Phillips Academy. I was at the Patriots game at Harvard Stadium in 1970 where Bob “Harpo” Gladieux was called out of the stands by the stadium announcer over the PA to play in the game. Analyzing the draft since ESPN first started to televise it in 1980 and former writer for the Lowell Sun Newspaper.

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