Javon Hargrave has been named the Black College Football Pro Player of the Year. This annual award is presented to an NFL player who attended a Historically Black College and University (HBCU) — and Hargrave has some history with the process.
Hargrave, who attended South Carolina State before being drafted by the Steelers in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft, appeared at the Black College Football Hall of Fame (BCFHOF) Induction Ceremony two years in college, as he was twice named the SBN Sports Mel Blount Defensive Player of the Year during his time with the Bulldogs.
Now, Hargrave's again being recognized by the BCFHOF, this time as a pro.
"This is very big. It's huge," Hargrave said, via Steelers.com. "It's a blessing. Just all the great players who came before me, players I look up to. It was a surreal moment when I heard about it. I was so happy when I learned that I won it. I can't wait to get there and see all those all-time greats there. It's a great feeling for me."
The Colts' Darius Leonard (South Carolina State) took home the award in 2018, and Hargrave was quick to mention the pride he feels in continuing to fly that flag for his former college.
"I remember going to the same event when I was in college, seeing guys like Donnie Shell, Robert Porcher, both from South Carolina State, all of the NFL greats who came before me," Hargrave said. "I got a lot of pictures with them."
Shell, of course, recently received the sport's highest individual honor, being named to the 2020 Pro Football Hall of Fame's Centennial Class.
"That is so big," Hargrave said. "That is one of the reasons I loved going to my school, just seeing all of the great players we had that came from my school and wanting to be one of those greats one day, wanting to be in the NFL. It's so great for South Carolina State. I am so happy for Donnie Shell. He is someone my dad looked up to. It's a great feeling."
Hargrave posted a career-high 60 tackles (35 solo) in 2019 while adding four sacks, a forced fumble and six quarterback hits.
"It's crazy I am going back to it [the BCFHOF Induction Ceremony] in a whole other position," Hargrave said. "It's special. It's a great feeling for me and my family."
The presentation takes place Feb. 22, and this year's BCFHOF class will feature Earl Harvey, James Hunter, Robert Mathis, Erik Williams, coach Joe Taylor and commissioner Dennis Thomas.
And exceptional as this is for Hargrave, it could make a potential split sting that much more for the Steelers and their fans.
Hargrave will become a free agent in March, and he recently hired super-agent Drew Rosenhaus to help him navigate the upcoming free agency period. The Steelers, with little cap room to speak of, likely won't be able to keep both Hargrave and Bud Dupree, who is coming off a career year at outside linebacker opposite T.J. Watt. Many expect the money to flow Dupree's way, which would almost certainly leave Hargrave on the outside looking in, as his performance in his four years with the Steelers does indeed merit a raise.
It just likely won't come from the team that drafted him.
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