Tennessee State quarterback Geremy Hickbottom and Florida A&M defensive back Antwan Collier had a pretty good idea what it meant to be standing in front of a backdrop, with Black college football legends Doug Williams and James "Shack" Harris standing to the right of Hickbottom (Williams) and to the left of Collier (Harris).
As the first Offensive and Defensive Most Valuable Players of the inaugural HBCU Legacy Bowl, Hickbottom and Collier etched their respective names into the history book as well, with Hickbottom leading Team Gaither to a 22-6 victory over Collier and Team Robinson on Saturday at Tulane's Yulman Stadium.
"It's a big deal," Hickbottom said. "It's a big deal. I go down in history, so I appreciate it. I appreciate the Black College Football Hall of Fame for putting this together for us, and I just hope my career can go from here."
"That means a lot," Collier added. "It's a blessing. I'm low-key speechless, because this is going in the book. And this is the first time I've ever gotten an MVP award after a game."
Collier's award largely was attributable to a vicious hit that forced a fumble, one of two forced and recovered by Team Robinson. He finished with nine tackles (four solo) and 1.5 tackles for loss.
"Just doing my job and helping the team," Collier said. "Coach told me, 'You've got to go make a play.' And on the swing route to the running back, I came up and made a hit. That was a play that we needed to get a little juice."
Hickbottom, though, helped make sure it wasn't enough juice. He completed nine of 15 passes for 72 yards, and ran five times for 26 yards and a 3-yard touchdown.
"Executing what Coach said, just taking what they gave me, not trying to overdo it because that's when you get yourself in trouble," Hickbottom said.
Chowan quarterback Bryce Witt led Gaither in rushing (32 yards on three carries) and passing (15 of 21 for 131 yards and a touchdown), while Alabama State running back Ezra Gray led Robinson with 33 rushing yards on four carries, and Alabama A&M quarterback Aqeel Glass passed for 51 yards on four completions.
The weeklong buildup, and participation in the first Legacy Bowl was beneficial, Hickbottom and Collier said.
"It was an experience, for sure," Hickbottom said. "Just a whole new group of guys, guys I had never seen before. How everything just bonded together, the chemistry just came together for the game, I'm really excited for the guys."
"It was a great experience, I appreciate this opportunity from the guys who created this event for us," Collier said. "I just came out and worked every day and pushed the team, and helped out the team in any form or fashion I could.
"Just coming out here and getting this opportunity, out of all the guys in the HBCUs, it's a blessing. I hope everybody out here took advantage of that and made improvement from where their old film was to now."