Cover 9@9: Howard’s Scott stunned that no HBCU players were drafted by NFL; plans to recruit Georgia

Howard University coach Larry Scott was an assistant at the University of Florida when recent Falcons draft pick Kyle Pitts played in Gainesville.
Howard University coach Larry Scott was an assistant at the University of Florida when recent Falcons draft pick Kyle Pitts played in Gainesville.

Credit: Courtesy of Howard University

Credit: Courtesy of Howard University

Caught up with Howard coach Larry Scott to discuss his former star pupil, Falcons tight end Kyle Pitts.

Scott was Pitts’ position coach at Florida for two seasons in 2018 and 2019. Scott recruited Pitts for Tennessee, but went to Florida in 2018 with coach Dan Mullen’s staff and finished up the signing of new tight end.

Scott, who played at South Florida, was an assistant coach at South Florida, Miami, Tennessee and Florida before landing the Howard spot. He also served as Miami’s interim head coach in 2015.

In addition to discussing Pitts, we discuss HBCU players not getting drafted by the NFL in 2021 and recruiting in Georgia.

Scott and several other head coaches at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) were stunned that no players were drafted this year from the schools.

The Falcons did sign offensive tackle Kion Smith, who played at Fayetteville State of the CIAA. Smith is 6-foot-6 and 315 pounds and played in the Hula Bowl and Tropical Bowl. He participated in the Pro Day at N.C. State and ran the 40-yard dash in 5.33 seconds and lifted 225 pounds 15 times.

Scott joined Jackson State’s coach Deion Sanders, a former Falcon, decrying the league not drafting players like Smith from HBCUs in 2021.

“Definitely, that is something that has to change,” Scott said. “I just think the continued awareness and continued cameras following and watching, leveling the playing field and giving the same opportunities to players that are from HBCU’s has to continue, it has to pick up.”

Sanders called for unity amongst the HBCU’s to help solve the issues.

“It’s definitely something that we all have to put our heads together and become more of a united front with all of us together, hand in hand, shoulder to shoulder with this one and don’t back down from it at all,” Scott said.

The Falcons had nine draft picks and didn’t draft any FCS or HBCU players.

“You (heavily scout) at other FCS programs, why not do it at the HBCU level as well,” Scott said. “It’s something that I think systematically has to change and it needs to change right now.”

Three-time Pro bowl safety Antoine Bethea was drafted out of Howard in the sixth round by the Colts in 2006. He played 14 seasons in the NFL. He was born in Savannah, but played his high school football in Newport News, Va.

Scott plans to recruit Georgia heavily.

“One thing we know about the state of Georgia and I’ve had experiences with it being the SEC and the ACC at Miami, Tennessee and Florida, is that it is a state that loves football,” Scott said. “Those guys love to play to the game. They are well-coached. It’s important to them.”

Former Augusta T.W. Josey High tight end Jimmie Johnson went to Howard and played 11 seasons in the NFL. Of course, it was Grady High’s Caylin Newton who led Howard to an historic win over UNLV in the biggest-point spread upset in college history back in 2017.

“We are definitely going to be involved in that area in Georgia because of the talent that comes out of there and not only the talent, but how well they are coached in high school football,” said Scott, a Florida native. “We are definitely going to be looking to add some of those guys to our roster and help continue to build our program.”

After former coach Mike London left, his replacement, Ron Prince, was accused of verbal abuse of the players and intimidation and re-signed after just one year. Scott has to rebuild the program to where London, Steve Wilson and Willie Jefferies had them competing with smaller FBS schools like UNLV, Ohio University, Marshall and Kent State.

“We are building it and kind of re-setting the program right now,” Scott said. “We are going to be young, but probably more talented that we have been in the past. We are going to be looking at those states and areas where guys fit our academic profile, but come from an area where football is important and they love to play the game and compete at the highest level.”

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