Written By Thomas Scott
July 31, 2018
Last week, Kayvon Thibodeaux sent shockwaves through the college football community when he visited FAMU on a recruiting trip. Kayvon is not your typical high school prospect. The 6’5, 235 pound defensive end is widely considered the number one overall player in the 2019 recruiting class. Prior to this visit, Kayvon has been heavily recruited by schools such as: Alabama, USC, Florida State, Oregon, and LSU. While all of these schools are excellent choices, FAMU is in fact the best destination for Kayvon Thibodeaux.
More Than An Athlete
Unfortunately, school itself is often seen as a secondary concern for the top recruits in the nation. Because of their physical tools, these recruits are expected to pick a school based upon which program can provide them with maximum exposure and ultimately develop them for the NFL. With all the hype surrounding his athletic abilities it would be easy to box Kayvon into that category; but that simply isn’t the case.
Kayvon is an aspiring lawyer, has 3.8 GPA, and is a member of his school’s chess club. His ultimate goal is to build a free private school in South Central LA where he was born and raised. Sadly, his desire to change lives through education isn’t always met with the same excitement as the possibilities of his football career. For academic reasons, as a sophomore Kayvon transferred from his local school (Dorsey High) to the predominately white Oaks Christian. Yet and still, he was limited by the perceptions of others. Kayvon described it best, ” Everywhere I go, people just want to talk about how big I am.”
Attending a HBCU like FAMU would give Kayvon the opportunity to pursue his education in an environment that equally values his humanity, academics, and athletic abilities. According to the 2018 US News and World Report, FAMU is academically the sixth ranked historically black college or university in the nation.
Kayvon Thibodeaux is an undeniable talent. Just ask his former youth coach and mentor, Antonio Patterson. Patterson said:
“It’ll be 20 years until another Kayvon comes around. His intensity is like no other, he never takes a play off.“
FAMU is in dire need of a dynamic pass rusher. Last season the Rattlers ranked seventh in the MEAC conference with 21 total sacks as a team. As a junior in high school Kayvon recorded 20 sacks by himself. That’s one shy of the the total number of sacks FAMU had as a team! In addition, he recorded 28 tackles for loss, and 99 total tackles (70 solo). While these exact numbers may not translate, it’s safe to say he’s primed to make an immediate impact. There are plenty of high powered offenses in the MEAC, and FAMU could implement Kayvon in a variety of ways to neutralize these threats.
The biggest arguments against Kayvon signing with FAMU centers around the perceived lack of national media coverage and level of competition he would face. PWI’s spend millions of dollars to position themselves as the “solutions” to these problems. In previous years these arguments may have been valid, but not today.
“It’s hard to imagine the American cultural landscape without the influence and impact of African-Americans. They represent all of the iconic cultural markers of our society: business, music, entertainment, fashion, sports, government, education. In every aspect they’re seen as cultural thought leaders” – Mark Addicks, Former Chief Marketing Officer at General Mills
The above quote was mentioned in a recent Forbes article that explains why despite only making up 12 or 13% of the population, many major brands are making African-Americans their lead consumers. Simply put, things that are genuinely supported by the black community usually transcend into mainstream success.
Kayvon doesn’t have to be chained to the idea that he is only a football player or that attending a PWI will help build his professional brand. There is nothing a PWI can offer his brand that FAMU can’t.
Playing for a HBCU won’t hurt his chances of making it the NFL. Earlier this year MEAC linebacker, Darius Leonard was drafted in the second round by the Indianapolis Colts.
With the rise of social media, Kayvon is already considered an influencer. He is verified on two major social media platforms and has over 10,000 Twitter followers and nearly 14,000 followers on Instagram! Choosing a HBCU over PWI powerhouses like Alabama and Oregon would certainly make national headlines. The type of headlines that would exponentially boost interest and intrigue around his story.
With this decision, he has the unique opportunity to both reshape the recent narrative around HBCU sports and restore FAMU’s rich football history. He will be known as a trailblazer for merely making the decision to attend a HBCU. If he performs on the field, he can help FAMU contend for a National Black College Football championship. For the past three seasons, the top HBCU football teams have played in the Celebration Bowl to determine the black college champion. These games are nationally televised on ABC. Imagine if Kayvon or other top athletes choose to attend HBCUs and compete for the Celebration Bowl title.
No one’s what Kayvon will choose, but for now let’s hope he makes good on his promise and decides to stay in Tallahassee a little bit longer.