Aqeel Glass was in the company of true trailblazers, pioneers of the game, and he soaked up every bit of knowledge from them that he could in the moment. The Alabama A&M quarterback and NFL Draft prospect was awarded his second consecutive Black College Football Player of the Year award — the Deacon Jones Trophy — through the Black College Hall of Fame, by former Grambling quarterbacks James “Shack” Harris and Doug Williams, the founders of the HBCU Legacy Bowl.
Aqeel Glass is learning from the best
“It was a great honor to be able to talk to those guys and ask them for advice,” Glass said in a telephone interview before playing in the HBCU Legacy Bowl all-star game in New Orleans. “They not only played in the NFL, but they’ve been in front office positions. To be around that kind of rich history, it’s amazing. They’ve been telling me to keep up the great work and that I represent myself well by keep playing well and continuing to do what I do.”
Drafted by the Bills in 1969, Harris was the first Black quarterback to begin the season as the permanent starter in NFL history. He went on to pass for 8,136 yards and 45 touchdowns playing for the Rams and Chargers. Harris was a Pro Bowl MVP and, after retiring, was an executive for the Ravens and a vice president of player personnel for the Jaguars.
Williams became the first Black quarterback to start and win a Super Bowl for the Washington franchise, earned a Super Bowl MVP, and passed for 16,988 career yards and 100 touchdowns. The former Grambling head coach is an executive for the Washington Commanders.
“It was a great opportunity for Aqeel to pick their brain,” Alabama A&M head coach Connell Maynor said in a telephone interview. “It was a great opportunity for him because they’ve done a lot for HBCU football and this Legacy Bowl. They’re true trailblazers.”
A 6-foot-5, 215-pound, strong-armed four-year starter, Glass was named the SWAC Offensive Player of the Year the past two seasons and was a Walter Payton Award finalist. He passed for 3,568 yards, 36 touchdowns, and seven interceptions last year.
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In Glass’ final four games, he posted 1,565 yards, 19 touchdowns, and no interceptions. Against Texas Southern, he generated 562 yards, five touchdowns, and no picks. In the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl in January, he threw for 141 yards and one touchdown on 9-of-11 passing.
Glass hasn’t been invited to the NFL Scouting Combine, but he is confident that the NFL is noticing his body of work and skills. The St. Louis native passed for 12,136 career yards and had 109 touchdowns.
‘Film speaks for itself’
“The film speaks for itself,” Glass said. “Everybody knows I can throw the ball. I love the chess match, the game between the coordinators as they try to create schemes to beat us and understand what we want to do. I love to compete at anything, even table tennis. I learned a lot from coach Maynor. He’s a great man.
“He taught me a lot on and off the field. He’s been able to help me progress in my game. He played quarterback. To be able to pick his brain has always been great. He competes at everything. I could be in the weight room lifting weights, and he’ll say, ‘I can do that,’ and he’ll get down there and lift the weight. He sets a great example.”
At the all-star game at Tulane University, Glass had a strong week of practice. He didn’t follow that up in the game, though, having a rough day as he went 4-for-15 for 51 yards and no scores. Overall, though, it was a positive performance and experience.
“I’ve heard great things,” Glass said. “Guys are just starting to get to know me. It’s a dream to be in this position. It’s a blessing.”
Glass’ size, arm strength, and leadership are all pluses.
“I would be a great guy for any team, on and off the field,” said Glass, who’s represented by veteran NFL agent Robert Walker. “I would be a leader and the hardest working guy on your team. I can make all the throws, process information. I’m a quick learner. I’m a guy who loves to win.”
‘He has every skill’
Maynor sees a ton of upside from Glass because of his size and intangibles.
“He’s very unselfish. He just wants to win and make everybody else better,” Maynor said. “He’s not a rah-rah guy. He’s not a guy who says too much. We told him it’s part of the job. When they mess up, you’ve got to get on them. When a receiver dropped the ball, you tell him you’re not going to throw him the ball anymore. By his junior and senior years, he was different. He had that quarterback voice. He rallied them up. He was always on the field, even on an off day.
“He’s a great all-around leader and a great guy. He’s the type of guy if he wanted to date my daughter, I would let him. I’ve heard he did well this week in practice. I think he’s going to get his shot. I don’t know if he’ll get drafted or be a free agent, but he’ll get an opportunity to make a team. He has what it takes. He has every skill you need to be a successful quarterback, on and off the field.”