What’s a combine without Bearkats?

The annual NFL draft combine starts this week: a time where players get to show off their skills to every NFL general manager in an effort to climb their way up draft boards. This is often an opportunity where players from Football Championship Series (FCS) schools, like Sam Houston State University, who are often overlooked get a chance to shine. During football season I wrote that SHSU standouts Jeremiah Briscoe (quarterback) and PJ Hall (defensive lineman) would have the opportunity to greatly improve their draft stock on this stage. Hall has already helped his stock with a very strong week at the East-West Shrine Game, which included a sack of former Ohio State quarterback JT Barrett.

Despite the accomplishments of these two players at the collegiate level, neither of them were invited to participate in the NFL combine this week. This is not because they come from FCS schools, though. Richmond quarterback Kyle Lauletta and Stephen F. Austin defensive lineman John Franklin-Myers were invited. Neither player has the career accomplishments of Briscoe or Hall. Briscoe is the FCS record-holder for passing touchdowns in a single season with 57 (2016), and seemed like a sure invitee for the combine, but a poor week of practice at the East-West Shrine Game followed by completing just one pass in six attempts in the game likely led to him not getting an invite.

Hall not receiving an invite was puzzling, especially since most NFL draft analysts have Hall going in the third or fourth round. Franklin-Myers was a standout in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, but many draft analysts have him going undrafted. Bilal Nichols is the other FCS defensive lineman invited to the combine and is also projected to go undrafted. Nichols had 12 career sacks at Delaware; Hall had at least 12 sacks in two different seasons at SHSU. I’m happy that these players are getting their chance to shine at the combine since they probably haven’t gotten their due, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of Hall who’s been one of, if not the most unstoppable force in FCS football for the past four years.

SHSU has two players that should be invited to the combine, and none of them were. I do not know what is going on, but that needs to be fixed. This program has been one of the top five in the FCS for the better part of a decade now, and the disrespect is ridiculous. Briscoe, Hall and other Bearkat seniors will get an opportunity to show off their skills at the SHSU pro day, which should take place sometime in March. The fact that any Bearkat, in particular Briscoe and Hall, did not receive an invite to the combine is mind boggling, and there needs to be an answer as to why that is the case—especially since these two will be on NFL rosters come the fall.

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