The month of February begins with a bang as the Seattle Seahawks attempt to repeat against the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX today, Sunday. When the two teams take the four of the country’s historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) will be represented by four different players, one suiting up for the Patriots, and three on Seahawks.
1Nathan Isles, NCAT
Nathan Isles, out of North Carolina A&T State University, spent three years of playing offensive line at the Black college in Greensboro, North Carolina before trying out for the Seahawks and was later signed.
Former NFL Scout Tony Softli said about Isles, “Isles was never given the respect he should have during his career. He probably should have been All-MEAC as a junior and deserved first-team honors (instead of second-team) as a senior. Don’t be surprised if he is highly coveted after the draft…”
2Tarvaris Jackson, Alabama State
The longest tenured player on either team is Tarvaris Jackson, who played for Alabama State after transferring from Arkansas. He left ASU 9th in SWAC history in passing yards and third in school history. After his Black college career Jackson was selected by the Minnesota Vikings in the second round in the NFL draft. In his rookie year Tarvaris started the final two games, only the third rookie quarterback in Vikings history to do so.
In 2007 Jackson would start 12 games, but for a large remainder of his Vikings tenure Tarvaris would serve as a back up quarterback. Upon leaving the Vikings in 2010 Tarvaris signed with the Seattle Seahawks and started a majority of the games the same season, his best year as a pro. Tarvaris was traded to the Buffalo Bills and would spend a year with the team before being cut and resigning with the Seahawks as the back up quarterback, a position he has held ever since.
3Ricardo Lockette, Fort Valley State
The wide receiver out of Fort Valley State who signed as an undrafted Free Agent in 2011, Lockette was known more for track in college where he won the Division II National championships in the 200 Meter dash.
Lockette has spent time with the San Francisco 49ers and Chicago Bears practice squads in 2012 and 2013 before landing back in Seattle.
4Brian Tyms, FAMU
The New England Patriots have just one HBCU alum playing in today’s Superbowl, three year veteran Brian Tyms. Tyms overcame strife and hardships to land at Florida A&M. After living in his car for a brief spell in college, Tyms was signed by the San Francisco 49ers as an undrafted free agent in 2012, and spent the 2012 season on the Miami Dolphins practice squad.
In 2013 he spent a majority of the season on the Miami Dolphin’s practice squad before being signed to the active roster of the Cleveland Browns halfway through the season and playing seven games. Tyms made the New England Patriots roster to begin the 2014 and started two games catching one touchdown during this year.
UPDATE: There’s six NFL players on the field in tonight’s Super Bowl 49 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. Not four as previously published… Bowie State’s Douglas McNeil, a wide-out for the Seahawks, and his teammate and former Southern tight end RaShaun Allen both are Black college athletes playing in the Super Bowl and rounds out the total of HBCU standouts to six to know in Super Bowl 49.