Javon Hargrave fondly remembers going to the (BCFHOF) Induction Ceremony when he played college football at South Carolina State and was honored two years in a row as the SBN/Mel Blount Defensive Player of the Year.
Now he has come full circle, returning this weekend for the BCFHOF Induction Ceremony, this time the recipient of the Black College Football Pro Player of the Year presented by the NFL Players Association. The award is presented annually to a professional football player who attended a Historically Black College and University (HBCU).
"This is very big. It's huge. It's a blessing," said Hargrave. "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.
"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. I got a lot of pictures with them.
"It's crazy I am going back to it in a whole other position. It's special. It's a great feeling for me and my family."
Hargrave had a strong 2019 season, finishing the year with a career-high 60 tackles, four sacks and a forced fumble.
"I really try to get better every year," said Hargrave. "Anytime I can do better than I did the year before, I am proud of that. That is something I look forward to every year, pushing myself to get better. I did everything I could to help the team and get better."
Hargrave will attend the induction ceremony in Atlanta on Feb. 22 to receive the honor, which was created through the NFLPA and BCFHOF as a part of Black History Month. A six-member committee selects the honoree each year, and it is someone who not only excelled on the field that year, but also is a positive influence in the community, has ties to his alma mater, and exhibits good character.
"We are happy to honor Javon as this year's winner of one our most important awards," said NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith. "His play on the field and work off the field through his foundation serve as a strong example of the type of men produced by the many great HBCUs across the country."
Hargrave's honor continues a big year for former South Carolina State football players as Donnie Shell was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2020.
"That is so big," said Hargrave. "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."
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The 2020 BCFHOF class features Earl "Air" Harvey, James Hunter, Robert Mathis, Erik Williams, Coach Joe Taylor and Commissioner Dennis Thomas.