The NFL Scouting Combine provides an important opportunity for a small group of former FCS college football standouts to turn heads alongside the often better-known players from the FBS.

In many ways, though, the 32 NFL teams and 300-plus personnel who will be on hand already have a sense of what to expect with players from premier FCS programs, such as offensive linemen Garret Greenfield and Mason McCormick and running back Isaiah Davis arriving off winning back-to-back national championships at South Dakota State, and center Jalen Sundell giving North Dakota State a representative at the Combine for a seventh consecutive season.

The NFL Combine, to be held from Feb. 26 to March 4 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, may carry even more importance for prospects from the smaller schools of the small school level, such as outside linebacker Jalyx Hunt from Houston Christian via Cornell, and massive offensive lineman Anim Dankwah from Howard. They were two of the 15-member FCS contingent among 321 players invited for this year’s showcase, where prospects will go through measurements and medical examinations, psychological testing, team interviews, and on-field workouts.

Hunt has emerged from under the radar, one of just four FCS players to earn an invitation to the recent Reese’s Senior Bowl, which is considered the premier college all-star game. The 6-foot-3½ former safety at Cornell bulked up over two seasons at HCU, growing into a 250-pound edge rusher with a high football IQ and tantalizing tools. He tied for the Southland Conference high in tackles for loss as a junior and was second in sacks this past season.

HCU’s program completed just its 10th FCS season this past year, but it’s begun to produce NFL talent, including New England Patriots quarterback Bailey Zappe in the 2022 NFL draft.

“I know it’s definitely a question from people – oh, you play FCS ball. So the chip (on the shoulder) is big, the chip is there,” Hunt told The BlueBloods during Senior Bowl week.

HCU’s Jalyx Hunt, forcing a fumble, was named the 2023 Southland Conference defensive player of the year. (HCU Athletics)

“Some things I need to improve on are really just getting used to the speed of the game,” Hunt added. “At the FCS level, you don’t always deal with the best talent. Coming here and dealing with the best of the best coming from what I was coming from is a huge difference. Just need to get used to the speed. The physicality is there. The technical ability is also something I need to work on.”

Physicality figures to be there with Dankwah. At 6-7, 362, he measured in as the biggest prospect at the East-West Shrine Game. The native of Ghana prepped at a Canada private high school, then blossomed at Howard, where he developed his skills – utilizing a wing span over 87 inches – as the Bison won consecutive MEAC championships.

Howard hasn’t had an NFL Draft pick since in 2006 with safety Antoine Bethea, who became a three-time Pro Bowler.

Howard offensive tackle Anim Dankwah was named to the All-MEAC first team in both 2022 and ’23 (David Sierra/Howard Athletics)

Dankwah was considered to have had a subpar Shrine Bowl week, where he told HBCU Gameday, “The NFL is full of a lot of talented people, but a lot of smart people – a lot of people who are students of the game. And I believe the way that I like to study the game, and the way that I am willing to learn, is definitely something that is going to translate over.”

Former FCS Players Invited to 2024 NFL Scouting Combine

On-Field Workout Date in Parentheses

Linebacker (Feb. 29)

Jalyx Hunt, Houston Christian (6-3½, 250)

Cornerback (March 1)

Myles Harden, South Dakota (5-11, 204)

Running Back (March 2)

Isaiah Davis, South Dakota State (6-0, 220)

Dylan Laube, New Hampshire (5-10, 207)

Jaden Shirden, Monmouth (5-9, 195)

Wide Receiver (March 2)

Jalen Coker, Holy Cross (6-1, 218)

Ryan Flournoy, Southeast Missouri (6-1, 200)

Offensive Line (March 3)

Kiran Amegadjie, Yale (6-5, 326)

Anim Dankwah, Howard (6-7, 362)

Josiah Ezirim, Eastern Kentucky (6-5, 324)

Nick Gargiulo, Yale/South Carolina (6-5, 317)

Garret Greenfield, South Dakota State (6-5½, 332)

C.J. Hanson, Holy Cross (6-6, 305)

Mason McCormick, South Dakota State (6-4, 310)

Jalen Sundell, North Dakota State (6-4½, 300)

(NFL Combine-bound FCS players were big part of 2023 Stats Perform FCS All-America Team.)

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