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These athletes showed out at the HBCU football combine

Representatives from all 32 NFL teams got a chance to see 40 players showcase their skills before the April draft

MOBILE, Ala. — In frigid Alabama temperatures, representatives from all 32 NFL teams huddled together to watch draft prospects at the NFL’s first combine for historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs).

Initially postponed from last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the NFL HBCU Combine has a partnership with the Senior Bowl with the overall goal of providing exposure and additional opportunities for HBCU draft prospects. NFL hopefuls spent the weekend interviewing with team scouts Friday and performing drills at the University of South Alabama Jaguar Training Center on Saturday.

Here are five prospects who turned heads at the HBCU combine:

Virginia State defensive back Will Adams

Will Adams of Virginia State prepares for the 40-yard dash.

Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Will Adams, a 6-foot-1 defensive back, wowed scouts in every drill of the combine. He posted the top overall performance in the broad jump with 10-feet-3 and a 40.5-inch vertical leap. His 21 reps on the 225-pound bench press and a 4.57 40-yard dash time were position bests. The four-year starter at Virginia State transitioned well in and out of breaks during position drills.

South Carolina State Wide receiver Will Vereen

Will Vereen, a South Carolina State wide receiver, runs a drill.

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Bulldogs wide receiver and Cricket Celebration Bowl champion Will Vereen was clocked at 4.54 seconds in 40-yard dash (second-fastest time overall), completed 21 reps at 225 pounds, leading his position group, and a vertical jump of 32 inches. The 5-11 receiver showed his ability to change directions, recording the fastest 3-cone drill time of 7.0 seconds.

Miles College Running back Kingston Davis

Kingston Davis of Miles College was the only running back to run the 40-yard dash at the combine.

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Former Michigan and Alabama-Birmingham player Kingston Davis finished his graduate season at Miles with 128 attempts for 721 yards. Davis led the running backs on the bench press with 24 reps, which was good enough for second overall in the offensive group. As the only running back to run the 40-yard dash, Davis ran it in 4.62 seconds. During position skills, scouts loved his agility and ability to catch passes out of the backfield.

Southern Wide receiver Marquis McClain

Marquis McClain of the Southern University Jaguars posted the second-fastest 40-yard time in the wide receiver group.

Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

At 6-2, former Auburn Tiger Marquis McClain had multiple scouts buzzing about his athleticism. The Southern wide receiver had a 38-inch vertical jump and 10-2 on the broad jump, the second-longest distance of the day. McClain posted the second-fastest 40-yard dash in the wide receiver group with a time of 4.61 seconds.

Florida A&M Offensive lineman Keenan Forbes

Keenan Forbes of Florida A&M was a two-time HBCU All-American.

Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Out of the four offensive linemen at the combine, Keenan Forbes stood out. Scouts raved about the fluidity of the big man’s movements. At 6-2 and 330 pounds, Forbes was a two-time HBCU All-American and was named to the SWAC first-team offense as a starting guard for the Florida A&M Rattlers.

Scouts’ Superlatives

  • Best interview: Alcorn State quarterback Felix Harper and Alcorn State linebacker Solomon Wise

During team interviews, Alcorn State quarterback Felix Harper wowed scouts with his confidence and one said they could see him working in the front office of an NFL team in the future. Scouts described Solomon Wise as a “high-energy guy that kept the conversation going.”

  • Best hands: Alabama A&M wide receiver Dee Anderson

Dee Anderson only participated in position drills, but his size and hand strength intrigued scouts. Scouts predict a position change to tight end at the professional level. Anderson had stops at LSU and Oklahoma State before playing for Alabama A&M this season.

  • Best tester: Southern wide receiver Marquis McClain

In the offensive position group, McClain stood apart with top-2 finishes in the broad jump, vertical jump and the 40-yard dash. His 18 reps at 225 pounds on the bench press placed second among receivers.

  • Breakout performance: Virginia State defensive back Will Adams

If scouts didn’t know who Adams was before the combine, they certainly do now.

  • Best position drill performers: Harper and Fort Valley State wide receiver Shemar Bridges

Among the quarterbacks, the left-handed Harper stood out in position drills with nice footwork and mobility. Shemar Bridges, who is 6-4, showed off a good catch radius and great footwork on routes.

  • Best conference performance: CIAA

Adams was followed by strong performances from Fayetteville State’s Keyshawn James, Virginia State’s Javon Frazier and Fayetteville State’s Elvin De La Rosa. Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association players were the top athletes on the bench press with James (26), Adams (21) and De La Rosa (21).

Mia Berry is the senior HBCU writer for Andscape and covers everything from sports to student-led protests. She is a Detroit native (What up Doe!), long-suffering Detroit sports fan and Notre Dame alumna who randomly shouts, "Go Irish."