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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2009 HBCU All-American Team

Explosive Florida A&M kick returner Leroy Vann is one of several 2009 HBCU All-American team members that NFL scouts have their eyes on

This year the talent level at HBCU’s is exemplary and you can expect to hear some of the names listed on our 2009 HBCU All-American team 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.

RB: William Ford, South Carolina State (5-11, 185, Sr., Travelers Rest, S.C.)  — The MEAC’s and Bulldog’s 2009 leading rusher this season produced 1,010 rushing yards while averaging 5.3 yards per carry with 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.  Ford 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 totaled 1,027 rushing yards with six touchdowns. Participated in the East Coast Bowl, where he ran the 40 for scouts in 4.28. Also caught a 33-yard TD pass in the HBCU Bowl All-Star Game and finishing with a game-high 82 yards receiving on three catches.

OL: Robert Okeafor, Florida A&M, (6-4, 295, Sr., Jacksonville, Fl)

OL: Xavier Manuel, Alabama A&M (6-1, 307, Sr., Vineger Bend, Ala.)

OL: Steve Brazzle, Florida A&M (6-3, 332, Sr., Coatesville, PA)

OL: Michael Steven, Tuskegee (6-5, 380, Sr., Montgomery, Ala.)

OL: Ramon Harewood, Morehouse (6-6, 355, Sr., Barbados)

OL: Dennis Conley, Hampton (6-4, 303, Sr. Suffolk, Va.) 

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) Stewart led the SWAC with 81 catches for 1,028 yards and 11 touchdowns.  This big physical receiver, 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 has been chosen to play 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 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 and Jacoby Jones (Houston Texans/Lane). 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.

DEFENSE

DL: 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). 

DL: 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 has been invited to the 2010 NFL Combine.

DL: 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.

DL:  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.

LB: 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.

LB: 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.

LB: Brandon Peguese, Hampton (6-1, 235, Jr., Greensboro, NC) – This high-energy junior outside linebacker and transfer from South Florida led the MEAC in sacks (7.5) and tackles for loss (16).

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: Jason House, Southern, (6-0, 190, R-Jr., Laurel, Miss) – Named as a 3rd team All-American and All-SWAC, this sticky fingered safety led the SWAC and NCAA (FCS) with 10 interceptions and 230 yards in returns in 2009.  This gifted track athlete and wide receiver turned defensive back also return one of his picks for a touchdown.

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

PK: Ari Johnson, Grambling State, (5-11, 180, Fr., Corona, Calif.) – Only a freshman, Johnson led the SWAC and all of HBCU football by scoring an amazing 90 points.  The GSU strong-legged kicker made 18 for 23 field goals attempted and converted 36 extra points plus had 46.0 yards per punt average.

P: Jahmal Blanchard, Hampton (6-3, 182, Sr., Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) — 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 hard-to-believe 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, finished his college career as the FCS record holder for career returns for scores (11 overall with 8 punts and 3 kickoffs).  The speedster, who many are comparing with Bears former Pro Bowl player Devin Hester, had 6 return touchdowns (3 punts and 3 kickoffs) this season.  And finished 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. Vann recently said of his stellar play for a smaller player, “I wasn’t the average size they were looking for. But I think it’s more than size. You’ve got to have no fear. You’ve got to play with heart.”

HONORABLE MENTION

OFFENSE

QB – Curtis Pulley, Florida A&M (Transferred from Kentucky); Dennis Brown, Norfolk State; K.J. Black. Prairie View A&M; AJ McKenna, Albany State; Tim Buckley, Alcorn State

RB – Ulysses Banks, Alabama A&M; Quinn Porter, Stillman; Ramon McElrathbey, Howard; Donald Babers, Prairie View A&M; Demetric Johnson, Albany State; Devan James, Morgan State; Frank Warren, Grambling State

OL – Revay Smith, Grambling State; Joseph Ephrem, Albany State; Johnny Culbreath, South Carolina State; Ryan Cave, Hampton; Nick Royal, Hampton; Colin Cordell, Fort Valley State; Gabriel Manns, N.C. Central; Edawn Coughman, Shaw; Dylan Stivers, Elizabeth City State

WR – Oliver “Tre” Young, South Carolina State; Damon McDaniel, Hampton; Chris Bell, Norfolk State; Antoin Mitchell, Tuskegee; Robert Holland, Chowan; Thomas Harris, Alabama A&M

TE – Jonathan Hannah, Texas Southern; Warren Matthews, Southern; Lamont Bryant, Morgan State

Defense

DL – Justin Lawrence, Morgan State; Sam Washington, Jackson State; Rashad Hunt, Texas Southern; Brandon Fortune, Virginia State; Malcolm Jenkins, Elizabeth City State; Dexter Jackson, Bethune-Cookman; Tyrell Henderson, Kentucky State

LB – Brandon Jackson, North Carolina A&T; Julius Wilkerson, South Carolina State; David Erby, South Carolina State; Marcos Esquivel, Fayetteville State; Julio Sanchez, Hampton; Cliff Exama, Grambling State; Andrew Eggleton, West Virginia State

DB – Rechard Johnson, Alabama State; Michael Higgins, Mississippi Valley State; Kevin Thornton, Arkansas—Pine Bluff; Malcolm Palmer, Jackson State; Markee Hamlin, South Carolina State; Francis Adjei, Delaware State; Roderick Williams, Alcorn State; Phillip Adams, South Carolina St; Antwan Allen, Savannah State; Kerry Hoskins  Jackson State; Ryan Rich  Jackson State; Curtis Thomas  Texas Southern

PK –  Jeremy Licea, Alabama A&M; Justin Castellat , Norfolk State; Austin Turner, Fayetteville State; Blake Erickson, South Carolina State; Trevor Scott, Florida A&M;

P – Carlos Reyes, Arkansas-Pine Bluff; Chance Wilson, Alabama A&M

PR/KR – An’Thon Harris, Fort Valley State; Justin Wright, Alabama State; De’Markus Washington, Texas Southern; Charles Hawkins, Southern University 

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

2008 HBCU All-America Team

HBCU’s have notoriously been fertile grounds for the National Football League, in fact there is not enough paper in the world to list the numerous players that have made the jump from historically black colleges and universities to excellence in the NFL. 

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 and the pipeline continues today with players like Jacksonville Jaguars LB Justin Durant (Hampton).  This year the talent level at HBCU’s is just as exemplary and you can expect to hear many of the names listed on our 2008 HBCU All-American team called at the upcoming 2009 NFL Draft. 

OFFENSE

QB: Jacary Atkinson, Tuskegee (6-3, 205, Sr., Valley, Ala.)Was named the SIAC MVP and Offensive Player of the year along with his first team selection.  Led the conference and was tenth in Division II Football in passing efficiency (163.2). Atkinson also led the conference in passing average per game (244.4), passing yards (2,444), passing touchdowns (23) and total offense averaging 316.6 yards per game. Atkinson was named Offensive Player of the week six times this season and became the first player to win consecutive Offensive Player of the Year and MVP honors in the modern era of the SIAC. Tuskegee finished the year 10-1 and won the 2008 SIAC Championship. Led the Golden Tigers to a second straight SIAC championship. Atkinson, 22-1 as a starting quarterback, earned two straight Doug Williams offensive player of the year awards from Sheridan Broadcasting Network and is a two-time SBN All-America.

RB: William Ford, South Carolina State (5-11, 185, Jr., Travelers Rest, S.C.)  — Ford led the MEAC in rushing with 1,499 yards and was tied for third in the conference in scoring (78 points). He carried the ball 246 times for an average of 115.3 yards and accounted for 13 touchdowns. Ford, a junior expected to return in ’09, is just 1,009 yards away from becoming the MEAC’s all-time leading rusher. He was named the 2008 MEAC Offensive Player of the Year.

RB: Javarris Williams, Tennessee State (5-11, 215, Sr., Richmond, Tex.) — Williams helped the Tigers to an impressive 8-3 overall record with a 5-3 mark in the Ohio Valley Conference (OVC). He was named the OVC Offensive player of the year finishing with a league best 103.7 yards per game with 1,037 yards in 10 games. His 15 touchdowns were also a league best. He finished his TSU career as the All-time rushing TD leader (42) and is now second on the All-time rushing list with 4,329 yards. Javarris had six 100+ yard rushing games this season and twenty such games in his career. He rushed for 1,000 yards three consecutive years. Selected Most Valuable Player at the East-West Shrine Game.  Invited to the 2009 NFL Combine.

OL: Raymond Harrison, South Carolina State (6-2, 275, Sr., Columbia, S.C.) — Harrison was a key performer in one of the most dominating offensive attacks in the MEAC this season.  The Bulldogs’ third consecutive MEAC Lineman of the Year winner, Harrison aided SCSU’s offense to 4,972 yards of total offense including 2,651 yards on the ground. 

OL: Dwayne Frost, Bowie State (6-6, 300, Sr., Largo, MD)

OL: Cornelius Lewis, Tennessee State (6-5, 310, Sr., Jacksonville, Fla.) — This former transfer from Florida State was selected first team for the Ohio Valley Conference (OVC). Played in Texas vs. the Nation All-Star Game and was also invited to the 2009 NFL Combine.

OL: Michael Steven,

Tuskegee (6-5, 380, Jr., Montgomery, Ala.)

OL: Adrian Brown, Delaware State (6-6, 327, Sr.)

OL: Dennis Conley, Hampton (6-4, 303, Sr. Suffolk, Va.) 

TE: Octavius Darby, South Carolina State (6-4, 240, Sr., Hollywood, Fla.)  — Selected to the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) First Team. This “Alge Crumpler” type tight end had 31 receptions for 518 yards and 12 TD’s.

WR: Justin Brown, Hampton (6-2, 200, Sr., Dover, N.J.) — Led the MEAC in receiving yards (887), averaging 80.6 per game, and was second in the conference in catches per game with 5.1

WR: Raytron Mayfield, Langston (6-1,205, Sr., Dallas, TX) —Mayfield had 799 yards receiving on 59 catches with nine touchdowns. Plus an additional 165 yards rushing with three touchdowns and he also threw for 77 yards and one touchdown. Led the Lions in scoring with 76 points. Was selected First-Team All-CSFL (Central States Football League Conference). Also guided the Lions to the NAIA National Playoffs second round and an 11-2 record. 

DEFENSE

DL Chris Baker Hampton (6-2, 305, Jr., Windsor, Conn.) — This former transfer from Penn State was selected first team for the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC). Baker led the Pirates and the MEAC with 8.5 sacks, 16.5 tackles for loss, and 13 quarterback hurries, to go along with 69 tackles – the third-highest total on the team. Invited to the 2009 NFL Combine.

DL: Louis Ellis, Shaw (6-4, 295, Sr., Jackson, Miss.) — Was named CIAA Defensive Player of the Year for the second consecutive year as Shaw won their second consecutive CIAA Championship. This season he anchored the Shaw Bears defensive unit to the national number one spot of the NCAA Division II in total defense (#1), rushing defense (#1), tackles for a loss (#1). Louis was the CIAA’s leader in tackles for loss (16 solo and 8 assisted) and was second in the conference with 8 sacks. He was also credited with 60 total tackles. Played in Texas vs. the Nation All-Star Game.

DL: Richard Washington, Clark-Atlanta University (6-3, 305, Sr., Miami, FL) — An All-SIAC first teamer, Washington had a big day at the East Coast All Star game, finishing with a couple sacks and several other key stops.

DL: David Williams, Kentucky State (6′-3, 240, Sr. Detroit, MI) — All-SIAC first teamer had 51 TKLS, 5.5 Tackles for Loss, 2.5 sacks, and 2 FF

DL: Marcus Benard, Jackson State (6-4, 260, Sr., Ypsilanti, Mi.) — The senior defensive end led the SWAC with 15 sacks (which is first in the SWAC and second in FCS), as well as leading the SWAC with 22.5 tackles for loss. He also recorded season highs of 17 tackles against Ala. A&M, five sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss against Ala. A&M.

DL: Christian Anthony, Grambling State (6-4, 246, Jr., Birmingham, Ala.)  — Anthony had 48 tackles with 14 tackles for loss.  He also amassed six sacks, broke up five passes and had 2 INTs in 12 games played.

LB: Jeffrey Cargile, Morehouse (5-9,200, Sr. Cincinnati, OH —Won the SIAC Defensive Player of the Year award after leading Division II and the conference in sacks (12.5). Cargile also led Division II and the conference in tackles for a loss (23.0) and finished the season with 99 tackles. Morehouse finished the 2008 campaign with a 6-4 record over-all and 6-3 in the SIAC for a second place finished.

LB: Marcellus Speaks, Jackson State (6-2, 230, Sr., Jackson, Miss.) — Speaks led the SWAC with 115 tackles (54 solo; 20.5 for loss), along with 5.0 sacks, one interception, two forced fumbles, and one blocked kick in leading the Tigers to the SWAC Championship Game for the second consecutive year. He was named SWAC Defensive Player of the Year and he also had Player of the Week honors three times this season. Speaks made a season-high 16 tackles (with 1.0 for loss with 0.5 sacks) vs. Southern (Oct. 4)

LB: Endor Cooper, Howard (6-3, 245, Sr., Woodbridge, Va.) — An All-MEAC Conference first team player. This senior middle linebacker had an outstanding season leading the MEAC in total tackles per game with 11.4 and in forced fumbles with four. Also finished tied for third in tackles for losses in the MEAC. Recorded double digits in tackles in nine of 11 games played.

LB: Jarrell Guyton, Morgan State (6-0, 225, Sr., Miami, Fl) — The MEAC’s Defensive Player of the Year honor after leading one of the most dominating defensive units in the FCS. For the second year in a row the Morgan State Bears led the FCS in total defense giving up less than 213.4 yards per game. Guyton collected 35 solo and 35 unassisted tackles for the Bears this season. He put up numbers in almost every defensive statistical category including 70 total tackles, 13 tackles for a loss of 41 yards, four sacks for a 22 yard loss, one interception for a 22 yards return, three broken up passes, one hurry, and one forced and recovered fumble.

DB:  Rodrick Jones, Elizabeth City State University (5-11, 179, Sr.) — Was the MVP of the CIAA Championship Game finishing his last collegiate game with 9 tackles, a fumble recovery and two pass breakups.  Had an interception in the East Coast Bowl and will play in the Cactus Bowl. Runs in the 4.6 range in the forty.

DB: Domonique Johnson, Jackson State (6-2, 200, Sr. Texas City, Tex.)  — This All-SWAC performer was originally signed and played for Missouri, leaving for undisclosed reasons after the 2006 season. One of the best defensive backs in the upcoming NFL draft, Johnson finished his senior year with a team high four interceptions (returned one for a touchdown) and a league high 13 pass break-ups. Had his best game against Mississippi Valley State recording 10 tackles and 2 INTs.  Extremely fast as Johnson has been clocked in the 4.35 to 4.4 range in the forty. Played in the 2009 Senior Bowl and was also invited to the 2009 NFL Combine.

DB: Eddie Young, Fort Valley State (6-0, 205, Sr., Macon, GA — A physical tough safety chosen first team All-SIAC.  Participated in the East Coast Bowl and is considered a Pro Prospect at safety running a 4.65 in the forty-yard dash.

DB: Gregory Toler, Saint Paul’s (6-1, 185, Sr., Washington, D.C.)  — 2008 All-CIAA selection – Toler participated in the East Coast and Cactus Bowl All Star games after leading the CIAA with 6 INTs (ranked third in NCAA DII) and 19 passes defended.

DB: Niles Rainey, Virginia Union (5-10,165, Sr., College Park, GA) — Rainey had a very good season for VUU despite playing in a strange rotation.  The Georgia native finished with 3 INTs.  He was named CIAA Defensive Back of the Week, for the week ending on October 18, 2008 for his defensive efforts in a 68-6 victory over Lincoln University (Pa).  In the Lincoln game, Rainey recorded 2 touchdowns (one on a fumble recovery and the other on an interception).

DB: Terrell Whitehead, Norfolk State  (6-2, 200, Jr., Virginia Beach, Va) — Whitehead was named First Team All-MEAC for the second straight year after having the second-most passes defended (15) of any MEAC player.  He also tallied four interceptions (13 for his career ranking him 3rd in MEAC history) and 11 pass deflections. The physical junior defensive back led NSU and ranked seventh in the MEAC with 83 tackles.

Special Teams

PK: Brandon Gilbert, North Carolina Central (5-10, 190, Sr. Graham, NC) — School’s all-time leading scorer and holds school records for career Field Goals made, extra point kicks made, single-season field goals made, extra point kicks made (48), and record for field goals made in a game (4). Booted the longest field goal in school history with a 51-yard last-second, game-winning kick in the 2006 CIAA Championship Game (Nov. 11).

P: Jahmal Blanchard, Hampton (6-3, 182, Jr., Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) — Averaged an amazing 43.1 yards per punt

KR: William Osbourne, Texas Southern (5-7, 160, Jr., Marshall, TX) — This explosive all-purpose player made an impact all over field averaging 192.3 yards per game.  Was TSU main receiving threat producing 82 catches for 1092 yards and 7 TD’s while averaging 15.9 yards per punt returns and 22.5 on kickoffs.

PR: Jeremy Gilchrist, Hampton (5-10, 174, Sr., Virginia Beach, Va.) — This transfer from Virginia Tech is a very explosive return man with top-level speed.  Averaged 15.6 yards per return and had 3 TD’s in ’08.

HONORABLE MENTION

OFFENSE

QB – Bryant Lee, Southern; Curtis Rich, Elizabeth City State; Bobby Reid, Texas Southern (Transferred from Texas Southern); Antonio Hefner, Tennessee State (Transferred from South Carolina); Kisan Flakes, Albany State (Transferred from Illinois); Lamar Little, Virginia Union; Carlton Hill, Miles College (Transferred from South Florida)

RB – Devan James, Morgan State; Winston Thompson, Clark Atlanta University; Michael Wright, Kentucky State University; Taron Hampton, Virginia State, Tarian Donaldson, Virginia Union; Kareem Jones, Delaware State; DeAngelo Branche, Norfolk State

OL – Revay Smith, Grambling State; Cleveland Collie, Prairie View A&M; Oliver Pazdry, Shaw; Robert Okeafor, Florida A&M

WR – Dexter Manley, Elizabeth City State; Jason English, Tuskegee; Thomas Harris, Alabama A&M; Juamorris Stewart, Southern
Defense

DL – Jarvis DeVaughan, Tuskegee; Justin Lawrence, Morgan State; Sammie Lee Hill, Stillman (Invited to the 2009 NFL Combine); Melvin Matthews, Grambling State; Vincent Lands, Southern; Jeremy Maddox, Alabama A&M; Marcus Kennedy St. Augustine’s
LB – Zach East, Prairie View A&M; Travis Roland, Bethune-Cookman; Lee Robinson, Alcorn State (Played in Texas vs. the Nation All-Star Game and was also invited to the 2009 NFL Combine)

DB – Dre’Mail Hardin, Stillman; Darnell Brown, Langston; Anthony Beck, Prairie View A&M; Justin Hamilton, Elizabeth City State; Jeff Franklin, Central State; Darren McKhan, Morgan State; Enrique Cox, Virginia Union; Al Donaldson, Alabama AM; Stephen Jackson, Fort Valley; Don Carey, Norfolk State

PK: Jeremy Licea, Alabama A&M

KR: LeRoy Vann, Florida A&M

 

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

Restoring the Roar – Lincoln University (PA) Returns to the Gridiron

Lincoln University (PA) one of the original HBCU football giants returns to action on August 30, 2008 for the first time in 48 years as they host George Mason

By Lloyd Vance, Football Historian

(Philadelphia, Pa) – When most people think of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) football, first thoughts usually conjure up images of an electric atmosphere, pageantry, precision marching bands, camaraderie in the stands, rivalry games called “Classics” and legendary coaches like Grambling State’s Eddie Robinson, Tennessee State’s John Merritt, Florida A&M’s Jake Gaither, Cheyney State/Central State/Florida A&M’s Billy Joe and Morgan State’s Earl Banks patrolling the sidelines versus each other.  But a new chapter in HBCU football history will emerge on August 30, 2008 as upstart head coach O.J. Abanishe leads sleeping HBCU football giant Lincoln University (PA) “Back to the Future” by returning to the gridiron for the first since 1960. Continue reading

Restoring the Roar – Part 2

Lincoln University (PA) will return to the gridiron for the first time in 48 years on August 30, 2008.  Hopefully the return of Lincoln football will also rekindle their great rivalry with Howard University in the near future.  This photo is from the 1948 Lincln-Howard game played at Griffith Stadium in Washington DC

Restoring the Roar Part (PART 2)

by Lloyd Vance, Football Historian

The annual Howard-Lincoln homecoming football game also was an “institution” every November for spectators and was considered the crown jewel of northern African American culture — the 1927 game flyer even said of the Lincoln-Howard classic, “If you are progressive, you’ll be there”.  The “big game” was so gigantic that entire African American communities in the Mid-Atlantic region practically shutdown for one week a year just for the event.  In it’s heyday (20’s, 30’s, and 40’s) the Lincoln-Howard Classic brought people from far and wide (some folks even came from California just for the game) by bus, car, plane, and special event trains called “Flyers” that had distinct heritage routes.  It didn’t matter if you were an alum or subway alumni (term created for non-college attendees that still heartily rooted for a particular school), as everyone wanted yearly bragging rights for the “homecoming” rivalry game in places like black owned businesses, churches, alumni/fraternity/sorority functions, social clubs, watering holes, barbershops, beauty salons, public transportation, and any other setting where African Americans congregated. Continue reading

Timeline of Lincoln University (PA) Football

By Lloyd Vance, Football Historian

  • 1854 – Lincoln University (PA) is founded as Ashmun Institute by Rev. John Miller Dickey, a Presbyterian minister, and his wife, Sarah Emlen Cresson (a Quaker) and named after Jehudi Ashmum, a religious leader and social reformer

 

  • 1865 – The Civil War ends with General Lee surrendering to General Grant at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865

 

  • 1866 – Ashmun Institute is renamed “Lincoln University” after the death of President Abraham Lincoln on April 15, 1865

 

  • 1869 – On November 6, 1869, Northeastern predominantly white universities   Rutgers and Princeton play the first organized football game ever on

 

  • 1892 – On November 23, 1892 (Thanksgiving), the first organized football game between two predominantly African American teams is played by southern schools Biddle (Later Johnson C. Smith) and Livingstone on a rainy afternoon.  Biddle wins the game by a score of 4-0, however the game was largely unnoticed except for the sparse crowd in attendance. 

 

  • 1894 – In November, Mid-Atlantic schools Lincoln University (PA) and friendly rival school Howard University of Washington DC become the first two African American schools to play organized football in the North with the Lincoln Lions winning by a score of 6-5 over the Howard Bison.  Continue reading