Among the stories that flew under the playoff radar amid the championship runs of the Rams, Chiefs and Patriots (which captured its sixth Lombardy Trophy), was the dominance of Darius Leonard for a resurgent Colts team that won a playoff game.
Leonard led the league in tackles (19 more than his closest peer) and added seven sacks, four forced fumbles and two interceptions on the way to winning Defensive Rookie of the Year this season. He was a second-round pick out of South Carolina State, a Historically black university in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
The league has seen its fair share of former HBCU standouts who went on to star in the NFL—some even making it to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The NFL Scouting Combine starts Feb. 26 in Indianapolis and three players were invited to participate from HBCUs who are looking to capture Leonard’s dominance in their respective positions.