BATON ROUGE, La. – “You don’t know how much something means until it’s taken away from you. This year away from it…it’s a grind man,” former Southern wide receiver Hunter Register said.
In 2020, Register experienced something he hadn’t faced in two decades: a year without football. The Southern alumnus ended his final season on the Bluff with 11 receiving touchdowns, tied for third best in the SWAC, but he didn’t earn an invite to the 2020 HBCU Combine.
“Last year I saw who was invited, wide receiver-wise. I felt I should’ve been invited,” Register added.
Former Jags linebacker Calvin Lunkins, whose 93 tackles in 2019 ranked fifth in 2019, received an invite for the inaugural event, but the pandemic caused organizers to cancel last year’s combine.
Both Lunkins and Register had to push through a year without the game they love.
“I just kept thinking like ‘man, I don’t know. Could this be over with for me?'” the linebacker said.
Lunkins didn’t mince words about his chances at an NFL career being linked to the combine’s cancellation. “Not having the combine last year played a big role in me not being on a team right now. They rated me, but they didn’t see me in person to see my abilities, see me work my drills.”
There’s light at the end of the tunnel for both former Jags. Lunkins and Register will attend the 2021 HBCU Combine in Birmingham, Alabama. In fact, four Jaguars earned invites. Offensive linemen Jodeci Harris and Jeremiah Abby will be at the inaugural event as well, but the skill players have more to play for.
Lunkins became a dad, and Register welcomed his second child in the last year. Pursuing an NFL career while navigating fatherhood has been a difficult path for the Jags.
“It’s still a decision that I’m making. I can’t just put all my eggs in that situation, knowing that a pandemic could mess it up all over again so I’m back at square one,” Lunkins explained.
The HBCU Combine will be from April 9-10.
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