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NFL Draft

2020 NFL Draft: Jequez Ezzard, an HBCU player to know

HBCU
Photo credit: USA Today

Jequez Ezzard has the talent to become the next big name to represent Historically Black Colleges and Universities at the NFL level. Howard University is among the many HBCUs that have produced NFL talent. The most notable current Howard alum being three-time Pro Bowl selection Antoine Bethea. Today, there are two Howard Bison that have the potential to play on Sundays. One is quarterback Caylin Newton, brother of Carolina Panthers star Cam Newton. The other is Ezzard, the most dangerous receiver in the FCS.

Who Is Jequez Ezzard?

For many FCS schools, especially HBCUs, a star player can make or break their draft stock when facing major competition. Last year, for example, a strong performance against Auburn helped Alabama State tackle Tytus Howard get selected in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft. When given the opportunity to face FBS competition, Ezzard has risen to the task for Howard.

Ezzard burst onto the scene as an HBCU star in 2017. Against Kent State (FBS competition), the wideout finished with 120 receiving yards. He finished third in the country with 26.3 yards per catch and totaled 34 receptions for 895 yards and six touchdowns on the year. Ezzard established himself as a deep threat and built a strong rapport with Newton, but the duo was just getting started.

In a shootout with Ohio University (FBS) to kick off the 2018 season, Ezzard set a school record with 223 yards and a touchdown in a 38-32 loss. He would finish the season with five games over 100 yards. In four contests, the Howard star went for over 150 yards. Ezzard made 40 receptions and doubled his previous touchdown total to 12 for 2018. The junior led the entire FCS recording 26.6 yards per catch, and his 12 touchdowns were 11th-best in the country.

Ezzard’s production in 2018 landed him on the All-Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) first-team and Eastern College Athletic Conference second-team. On June 6, he was named to the HERO Sports Preseason All-American Team for the 2019 season.

Prove-It Year

Heading into his senior year, Ezzard must continue to produce big-time games to improve his NFL draft stock. He will have the opportunity to do so, as Howard faces a power five school and other strong FCS competition on the schedule in 2019.

The Bison will kick off the season in College Park against the University of Maryland. This game is critical for Ezzard as NFL scouts will evaluate if his game can potentially translate to the NFL level. The MEAC is full of stiff competition as well. The playmaking receiver will face NFL defensive back prospects like Trevor Merritt of Bethune Cookman, Donte Small of Morgan State, and Mac McCain of North Carolina A&T.

At 5-foot-9, Ezzard faces a physical challenge as an NFL prospect. In order to prove he can fill a role in the NFL, the FCS leader must put his most electrifying season of tape together in his final collegiate season. The senior will no longer be a secret to any defenses he goes up against. He will face some of the biggest challenges yet in 2019, but has a huge payoff if he can improve upon already impressive production in his senior season.

The number of HBCU players drafted has hovered around five per year over the last decade, including four selected this year. Ezzard has the opportunity to be the marquee prospect from HBCUs in the 2020 NFL Draft.

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