These are just a few high-profile HBCU football players who play in the NFL. One in particular is Dallas Cowboys Safety Markquese Bell, recognized as the most outstanding HBCU player in the game for 2023. During Super Bowl week, the 25-year-old will be honored as the NFL HBCU Spotlight Player of the Year.

“I am humbly grateful for this honor and acknowledgment to be selected for the NFL HBCU Spotlight Player of the Year for the 2023 season,” Bell told Cowboys Wire.

In 2022, Bell went undrafted out of Florida A&M, but he later joined the Cowboys after impressing coaches during training camp. His rookie campaign was a learning experience; he played in just five games and took 22 defensive snaps. In his second season, he increased both his production and skills. The defensive unit featured Bell in 649 snaps during the regular season, over 60% of his time on the field.

Several HBCU alums are on NFL rosters, including Javon Hargrave, Grover Stewart, Isaiah Bolden, Darius Leonard, and Terron Armstead. When Bell steps on the field, he realizes he’s a role model for under-recognized players and an ambassador for HBCU players.

“I do realize God has placed upon me to lead and be an example for many,” Bell said. “…and for that matter, I have accepted my calling to be intentional in the most positive way that I know as to the lives I affect from those watching me.”

With this honor, Bell is entering his third season as a critical contributor to the Cowboys’ defense. Bell will be honored as the NFL HBCU Spotlight Player of the Year at The Super Bowl Soulful Celebration, airing Feb. 10 on CBS.