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Football Camp Exposes High School Players To HBCU Programs

The Arizona camp was started by a former Howard University volleyball player and her husband, a former Howard University baseball player.

The First Annual HBCU High School Football Camp, started by a former Howard University volleyball player and her husband, a former Howard University baseball player, to expose Arizona high school football players to HBCUs, was deemed a success by the most important voices: the kids who participated. 

As Cronkite News reported, the camp, which Brittany and Vince Buckles created following a brainstorming session seven months ago, addresses the needs of all involved. The HBCU programs that attended need to expand their recruiting efforts into the western part of the country, and the high schoolers that attended need attention paid individually to their fundamentals, which often doesn’t happen at bigger camps. 

Alabama A&M Recruiting Coordinator Bobby Turner told the outlet that the camp provided a symbiotic relationship. “It’s important that we scout talent out west because these guys need opportunity just like kids in our wheelhouse,” Turner said. “Unless you’re exposed to something, you sometimes won’t get an opportunity because that’s not the norm. So, us getting out here to the desert gives these students an opportunity but also allows us to build our brand from an HBCU athletic and academic standpoint.”

Buckles told Cronkite News that some of the HBCUs that didn’t make the trip out West told her that finances were a barrier to their ability to attend the camp, so Buckles is aiming to create a nonprofit organization that will help cover some of the costs for the universities for next year’s camp. The camp also did not forget about the coaches. According to Cronkite News, following the camp, there was a networking event for the high school, junior college, and HBCU coaches who helped run the camp.

Elijah Sherbin-Fox, a senior quarterback at Desert Edge High School in Arizona, told the outlet that there is “tremendous value in going to the camp,” even if he is unsure where he will sign at the close of his high school football career. Sherbin-Fox is currently receiving interest from Temple and Marshall universities but has not ruled out attending an HBCU if the opportunity presents itself. 

“Just learning from high-level coaches at this camp on things like my footwork or stepping into my throws was good,” Sherbin-Fox said. “I definitely appreciate these HBCU camps. I’m not opposed to going to an HBCU. I’d go if I had the opportunity to. It’ll definitely be a blessing to be a part of and put on for Black culture.”

At the camp, 35 high school players showcased their skills in warmups, a 40-yard-dash, positional drills, and a seven-on-seven scrimmage in front of representatives from Howard University, Morgan State University, North Carolina A&T University, Alabama A&M University, and Lincoln University. 

Ahead of the camp, Jayden Wooden, a former Morgan State safety, talked to the camp attendees about what it meant to him to attend an HBCU. He summarized his talking points to Cronkite News, saying, “I wanted to let these kids know that there is no experience like an HBCU, from the culture to the community,” Wooden said. “You can’t get those personal experiences at predominantly white institutions. That’s my main thing – the Black cultural experience on the West Coast is lacking, and it’s important to bring that to light. It’s important to preach what an HBCU can offer.”

Xavier Buckles, the son of Brittney and Vince Buckles, is a quarterback at Williams Field High, and he echoed the sentiments of Sherbin-Fox, telling Cronkite News ahead of the camp, “I believe that we are a top-five football state in the country.”

Xavier added, “They need to come out here and see that a little bit more. Once they do step foot, they’re going to notice the talent right away, and then they’re going to hopefully end up recruiting some of us. And then, hopefully, that ends up working out at their universities. Then they come back, and the cycle continues and we can filter Arizona kids through HBCUs, because I feel like that’d be really good.”

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