2010 NFL Draft – HBCU Prospects

Norfolk State WR Chris Bell is one of several HBCU standouts who are hoping to here their name called at the upcoming 2010 NFL Draft

The excellence of the HBCU brand of football was recently celebrated with the opening of the Black College Football Hall of Fame this past February in Atlanta, Georgia and it is not surprising considering that HBCU’s have notoriously been fertile grounds for the National Football League. In fact there were over 60 former HBCU football players making impacts on NFL rosters during the 2009 NFL Season. 

Super Scouts/Architects Bill Nunn (’70s Pittsburgh Steelers) and Lloyd Wells (’60s Kansas Chiefs) were masters of mining “Diamonds in the Rough” at HBCU’s in helping to build Super Bowl winning teams in the past and the pipeline continues today with players like Houston Texans receiver Jacoby Jones from Lane. 

This year the talent level at HBCU’s is exemplary and you can expect to hear more than a few HBCU players’ names called at the upcoming 2010 NFL Draft. 

OFFENSE

QB Bryant Lee, Southern (6-3, 205, Sr., Boutte, LA) – A finalist for the Walter Payton Award, which is awarded to the top player in the FCS.  Lee was named the 2009 SWAC Offensive Player of the Year after posting passing numbers: 158-of-250 (63%), 2,039 yards passing, 19 passing touchdowns and  7 interceptions with 166 yards rushing and 5 TDs. Finished the 2009 season ranked 10th nationally in passing efficiency and 17th in total offense. Lee is the all-time passing leader at Southern with 7,654 yards.  Had probably his best game of the season in a 34-24 win over Alabama State, where he threw for a season-high 384 yards and four touchdowns. Threw at least two touchdown passes in seven-of-nine games this season.

QB Curtis Pulley, Florida A&M (6-4, 200, r-Sr., Hopkinsville, Ky.) – A former highly recruited high school prospect who started out at the University of Kentucky.  Pulley led the MEAC in total offense with 2,705 yards in 2009 and beat teams in a variety of ways.  This athletic dual-threat quarterback wowed NFL scouts last season with his strong arm (137-of-226, 60%, 1824 yards and 12 TDs) and legs (rushed for 881 yards on 122 carries and 6 TDs). Pulley was a finalist for the Walter Payton award after earning five MEAC Offensive Player of the Week awards.

RB William Ford, South Carolina State (5-11, 185, Sr., Travelers Rest, S.C.)  — The MEAC’s and Bulldog’s 2009 leading rusher finished with 1,010 rushing yards while averaging 5.3 yards per carry and 8 TDs.  Ford also is the MEAC’s all-time leading rusher with 4,650 career rushing yards, surpassing the mark of Hampton’s Alonzo Coleman (4,648) set in 2006.  The former tough Bulldogs runner finished 8th in voting for the Walter Payton Award.

RB LaMarcus Coker, Hampton (5-10, 195, Sr., Nashville, TN) — Began his college football career at the University of Tennessee where he contributed including a 42-yard touchdown run in the 2006 Outback Bowl against Penn State. The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference’s leading rusher last season totaled 1,027 rushing yards with six touchdowns. Participated in the East Coast Bowl, where he ran the 40 for scouts in 4.28 seconds. Also caught a 33-yard TD pass in the HBCU Bowl All-Star Game and finished with a game-high 82 yards receiving on three catches.

OL Robert Okeafor, Florida A&M, (6-4, 295, Sr., Jacksonville, Fl) – Another great offensive lineman from FAMU.  Okeafor is a battler who has great feet and is a strong leader.

OL Xavier Manuel, Alabama A&M (6-1, 307, Sr., Vineger Bend, Ala.) – A tough interior lineman that is a smart player.

OL Steve Brazzle, Florida A&M (6-3, 332, Sr., Coatesville, PA) – A bigger center who can make all the calls at the line of scrimmage.  Brazzle also has the good feet and plays with very good leverage plus he can help out at guard too.

OL Ramon Harewood, Morehouse (6-6, 355, Sr., Barbados) – A big offensive tackle who is still learning the game, but has a huge upside. 

OL Dennis Conley, Hampton (6-4, 303, Sr. Suffolk, Va.) – A solid offensive lineman, but still has room to grow.  Has a good punch at the snap and should be a hard worker at the next level.

TE Tony Cotton, Langston, (6-1, 210, Sr., Kellyville, Ok.)  — An emerging tight end, who has good field-stretching ability.  An All-CSFL for the second straight season, Cotton led all HBCU tight ends in receiving yards (601) via only 35 receptions for an incredible 17 yards per catch average.  The Langston versatile pass catcher also contributed 5 touchdowns.

WR Juamorris Stewart, Southern (6-3, 195, Sr., Baton Rouge, La) This big physical receiver led the SWAC with 81 catches for 1,028 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2009.  Stewart, who was quarterback Bryant Lee’s favorite target, finished his distinguished career at Southern as the school’s all-time leader with 201 receptions for 2,668 career receiving yards and 25 touchdowns.  The FCS All-American played in the 4th annual Texas vs. the Nation all-star challenge football game. 

WR Thomas Harris, Alabama A&M (5-11, 172, Sr., Alexander City, AL ) — A big-play receiver with solid speed (4.57), Harris along with Stewart and Bell look to be prime candidates to join a growing list of HBCU receivers making an impact in the NFL including Donald Driver (GB Packers/Alcorn State). Harris has great hands and is very good in open space after making the catch. Finished with 2009 receiving numbers: 56 catches for 808 yards, 14.4 ypc, and 7 touchdowns plus averaged over 26 yards per kickoff return.   Harris broke Arena Football legend Barry Wagner’s Alabama A&M school record for receptions.

WR Chris Bell, Norfolk State (6-2, 211, Jr., Norfolk, Va) – A big receiver prospect, who originally started out at Penn State then transferred after an off the field incident.  Bell had a very good NFL Combine where he was timed at 4.47  seconds in the 40-yard dash (tied for 11th among receivers), put up 15 reps in the bench press, broad jumped 9-9 and ran a the 3-cone drill in 6.76 seconds.   In 2009, Bell had 51 catches for 958 yards and 13 touchdowns in a breakout junior season at Norfolk State.

WR E.J. Morton-Green, Morgan State (6-4, 215) – A big physical receiver, who is getting some attention around the NFL.  Morton-Green has recently had several “recruiting” visits with NFL teams and is viewed as player with a lot of upside.  This developmental type receiver caught 24 passes for 324 yards last season.

WR Oliver “Tre” Young, South Carolina State (6-1, 180, Sr., Charleston, S.C) – Whenever South Carolina State, the 2009 HBCU champs, needed a big play, Young was their guy.  This big-play receiver led the MEAC in catches (65) and receiving yards (995) in 2009 while setting school career records for receiving yards (2,064) and catches (128).

DEFENSE

DE Christian Anthony, Grambling State (6-4, 246, Sr., Birmingham, Ala.)  — An incredibly gifted defensive end that reminds some of former Alabama A&M and Indianapolis Colts star Robert Mathis.  Finished fourth in voting for the Buck Buchanan Award and was voted the 2009 SWAC Defensive Player of the Year.  The Birmingham, Alabama native led the SWAC in solo tackles (55) and finished with 76 tackles overall.  Anthony also contributed 8 sacks, 15 tackles for loss, 5 forced fumbles, 3 recoveries and five interceptions (returning 2 for touchdowns). 

DE/OLB  Junior Galette, Stillman (6-2, 255, Sr., Spring Valley, N.Y) — A defensive end and NFL outside linebacker candidate, Galette transferred from Temple for his senior season at Stillman. A high-motor player, Galette led the SIAC with 9.5 sacks and also ranked 3rd in conference for tackles for losses (17.5 for minus 100 yards). In just 9 games, he recorded 56 tackles including 37 solo stops. Also had 12 quarterback hurries and three forced fumbles plus blocked a field goal.  Galette is clearly on the pros radar as he was recently timed at 4.63 in the forty and was one of two HBCU players invited to the 2010 NFL Combine.

DE/OLB  Marcus Crump, St. Augustine’s, (6-6, 240, Sr., Pittsboro, N.C) – A lanky high energy pass rusher that reminds me of a young Jason Taylor.  Crump ended the 2009 season finishing 2nd in the CIAA in sacks (10) and 3rd in tackles for loss (15). The All-CIAA defensive end also ranked in the FCS in those respective categories – 7th in sacks and 25th in tackles for loss.

DE/OLB Jeremy Maddox, Alabama A&M, (6-0, 244, Sr., Grand Bay, Ala) – An explosive pass rusher with a good first step.  Reminds me of Kansas City Chiefs’ sack man Tamba Hali.  Maddox, a two-time All-SWAC selection and finalist for the Buchanan Award, finished second in the FCS with 12 sacks.

DT Callahan Bright, Shaw (6-2, 315, Sr.) – After a circuitous college career with stops at Florida State, prep school, and junior college, this former highly recruited high school prospect found a home at DII school Shaw.  Bright is a cat-quick defensive lineman who also plays with great strength.  Some scouts I have talked say that if Bright can overcome his past character issues that he could be a player similar to the Eagles Broderick Bunkley.  Posted 48 tackles including 7.5 for loss last season and reportedly run under 4.95 seconds for the 40-yard dash.

ILB George Howard, Morgan State (6-1, 245, Sr., Chesapeake, Va.) – A tough inside linebacker that has a nose for the ball.  Howard, an All MEAC first teamer, led the conference with 130 tackles (73 solo and 57 assisted) and also contributed 1 sack.

ILB Adrian Hardy, Alabama State (6-2, 197, Sr., Selma, Ala.)  — This outstanding senior linebacker finished with 104 tackles this season to lead the SWAC. Also led the league with 9.5 stops per game and ranked him 34th in the FCS. Posted five double-digit tackle performances this season including a career best 17 tackles against Tuskegee. The strong pro prospect also contributed 10.5 tackles for loss, three sacks and a team-best five interceptions in 2009.

LB Marcus Jamison, Jackson State (6-1, 235, Sr., Brooksville, MS) – This All-SWAC pick finished with 56 tackles, six tackles for loss and a forced fumble.  Participated in the inaugural HBCU Bowl all-star game.

DB  Anthony Beck, Prairie View A&M, (5-11, 175, Sr., Channelview, Tex.) — A four-year starter at safety, Beck capped off an impressive career at Prairie View by leading his team to their first ever league championship.  Produced 3 INTs and 48 tackles in 2009.  The Houston native holds the school record for interceptions returned for touchdowns (3) in addition to picking off 11 passes for his career.  Also was named All-SWAC for the 2nd straight season and participated in the inaugural HBCU Bowl all-star game.

DB Quintez Smith, Shaw, (6-1, 195, Sr., Dublin, Ga.) – Was named as a NCAA Division II All-American after producing 9 INTs which led the football division and tied the all-time DII record – returned 4 INTs for touchdowns. Finished the season with 49 tackles and scored two other touchdowns on fumble returns. Also had a very good performance in the East Coast bowl.

DB T.J. McCord, Grambling (6-1, 195, Sr., Mobile, AL) – A tough free safety who is good in coverage and will also come-up to lay the lumber.  McCord produced numbers of 52 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 2 INTs (returned one for a touchdown), 8 pass break-ups, and 1 fumble recovery.

DB Antwane Cox, Bethune-Cookman (6-0, 180, Sr., Miami, FL) – Transferred from South Florida a couple years ago and had an immediate impact.  An All-MEAC first teamer, Cox produced 50 tackles, 2 INTs, 11 pass break-ups, and 1 fumble recovery.   

DB Terrell Whitehead, Norfolk State (6-2, 200, Sr., Virginia Beach, Va.) — Whitehead was named First Team All-MEAC for the third straight year.  Also was named as a First Team FCS All-American by the AP and Walter Camp Football Foundation.  Finished the 2009 season with 70 tackles, 5 INTs (led MEAC), four pass break-ups, three tackles for loss, one sack, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. Ended his collegiate career as the FCS active leader in career interceptions with 18.

Special Teams

P Jahmal Blanchard, Hampton (6-3, 182, Sr., Fort Lauderdale, Fl) — A three-time All-MEAC selection, Blanchard ranked third in the nation in punting with an amazing average of 43.9 yards per punt. Selected 3rd Team FCS All-American by the AP

KR LeRoy Vann, Florida A&M (5-9, 179, Sr., Tampa, Fl) — This former walk-on was arguably the most explosive player in all of college football (FCS or BCS).  Vann, who was featured in Sports Illustrated and ESPN’s SportsCenter, finishing his college career as the FCS record holder for career returns for scores (11  overall with 8 punts and 3 kickoffs).  This elusive returner, who many are comparing with Bears former Pro Bowl player Devin Hester, this season had 6 return touchdowns (3 punts and 3 kickoffs). While finishing with eye-popping numbers: 28 punts for 462 yards (16.5-yard average) and 3 TDs plus 38 kickoffs for 1,121 yards (29.5-yard average) and 3 TDs.  Vann – 1st team All-American selection in FCS — finished his stellar college career as the fifth player in FCS history to record over 1,000 yards on both kickoff and punt returns.  He also impressed scouts by being named the MVP of the inaugural HBCU Bowl all-star game after returning a punt 81 yards for a touchdown.

Other to watch

QB K.J. Black, Prairie View A&M

QB AJ McKenna, Albany State

RB Ulysses Banks, Alabama A&M

RB  Quinn Porter, Stillman

OL Revay Smith, Grambling State

OL Nick Royal, Hampton

WR Oliver “Tre” Young, South Carolina State

WR Robert Holland, Chowan

TE  Jonathan Hannah, Texas Southern

TE Warren Matthews, Southern

DL Justin Lawrence, Morgan State

DL Sam Washington, Jackson State

LB Hurley Hemphill, Virginia Union

LB Kellen Woodard, Tennessee State

DB Rechard Johnson, Alabama State

DB  Michael Higgins, Mississippi Valley State

 DB Kevin Thornton, Arkansas—Pine Bluff

DB Malcolm Palmer, Jackson State

DB Markee Hamlin, South Carolina State

 DB Francis Adjei, Delaware State

DB Roderick Williams, Alcorn State

 DB Phillip Adams, South Carolina St

 DB Antwan Allen, Savannah State

DB Curtis Thomas  Texas Southern

PR/KR Wright, Alabama State

PR/KR An’Thon Harris, Fort Valley State

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and Sports Journey Network , who is also an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

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