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No HBCU quarterback has been drafted in 16 years. But Alabama A&M’s Aqeel Glass is used to fighting for recognition -- and he’s determined to make a name for himself in the NFL.

Draft pundits aren’t talking much about Aqeel Glass, so please let the St. Louis native re-introduce himself.

“I feel like I’m the best quarterback in the draft, and I’ll stand by that,” the former Alabama A&M star said by phone recently after a morning training session in his hometown. “I feel like my numbers show that, my film shows that, and wherever I go, my future will show that.”

His words were not coated with brashness; they were wrapped in history.

Glass threw for 12,136 yards, 109 touchdowns and 41 interceptions with the Bulldogs, for whom he was the full-time starter from 2018 through 2021. He had the height (6-foot-5) to see over the pass rush and the football intellect to smoothly advance through his read progressions, which was most notable last season, when he threw for 36 touchdowns and nearly 3,600 yards before being named the Black College Football Player of the Year.

“Some people doubt me because of the school I’m at, or say I didn’t face any competition, or our offense wasn’t that complex,” Glass said. “But we ran the same plays that everyone else does, and we did the same things everyone else does. We just played different teams.”

A two-time Southwestern Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year, Glass is battling history as well as perception. Because he played at a lower-division school (Alabama A&M is a Division I FCS program), some choose to automatically devalue his accomplishments. But the issue runs much deeper than that.

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 vanishingly small. In the past 10 drafts, just 23 of the 2,549 players selected (0.9%) have come out of HBCUs, despite HBCUs producing both the NFL’s highest-paid linebacker (Darius Leonard, a second-round pick out of South Carolina State in 2018) and one of this offseason’s most highly visible free agents (Terron Armstead, a third-rounder out of Arkansas-Pine Bluff in 2013). In fact, no HBCU prospect was drafted last year, the first time that happened since 1967, and just one was drafted in 2020 (Lachavious Simmons, a seventh-round pick out of Tennessee State). Meanwhile, 2006 was the last time a quarterback from an HBCU was drafted, with the Vikings selecting the late Tarvaris Jackson (Alabama State) in the second round.

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This story was originally published April 13, 2022 2:44 PM.

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