We take a look at 10 players to keep an eye on in HBCU football in 2017.
Like every year in college football, graduation and the NFL draft offer a natural source of attrition on football rosters. Talent churns our and is replaced by ever-evolving, new generations of gridiron stars.
HBCU stars, Tarik Cohen (NC A&T), Chad Williams (Grambling) and Jac’que Polite (Winston-Salem State) have moved onto the NFL. Other’s, such as Javancy Jones are moving on with their life’s work. They’ve left a bunch of talent behind, in their respective conferences.
Darius Leonard, LB, South Carolina State
Talk about production! Leonard stuffed the stat sheet in 2016, piling up 124 tackles (14.5 for loss), 3.5 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, 2 INT, 2 blocked kicks and a partridge in a pear tree! Needless to say, Leonard is the cream of the HBCU crop this fall.
Devante Kincade, QB, Grambling State
Kincade is a master of the Tigers’ aerial attack and one of the more exciting players in college football. In 2016, Kincade passed for 3,022 yards and 31 TD with only 4 INT. He also added another 264 yards and 4 TD on the ground.
Brandon Parker, OT, North Carolina A&T
Parker is an imposing figure at 6-7, 299 pounds. His length and light feet make it difficult for any defender to maneuver around him. Parker is one of the leader of an offense trying to replace the production of Tarik Cohen.
Jonah McCutcheon, DB, Tuskegee
At 6-2, McCutcheon’s has rare length for a defensive back. He’s also not afraid to get his hands dirty in the running game. In 2017, he looks to build on the 3 INT and 9 pass break-ups he posted in 2016.
Jarell Bright, EDGE, Winston=Salem State
Bright racked up 12 sacks in 2016 as a sophomore. He also registered 40 tackles — 17 of those for loss. Nearly unblockable off the edge, Bright looks to continue his pass rushing dominance in 2017 for the Rams.
Mike Jones, DB, North Carolina Central
Jones is not only a sticky cover man, he’s also a dangerous returner. On defense, he tallied 34 tackles and five passes defensed with two interceptions. As a return man, he led the MEAC with 22.0 yards per punt return and was one of just four players in FCS with two punt return touchdowns.
David Smith, LB, Morehouse
Smith posted 111 total tackles with a whopping 27.5 of those for loss in 2016. The ultra-quick, instinctive linebacker is the heart and soul of the Maroon Tigers’ defense and should be primed for an encore in 2017.
Martez Carter, RB, Grambling State
Carter amassed 1,267 total yards from scrimmage in 2016 and 13 offensive touchdowns. He also added another 443 kick return yards and 1 TD on the season. Expect Carter to continue his expansive role in the Grambling State scoring machine.
Amir Hall, QB, Bowie State
Hall led the Bowie State offense with 2,136 yards and 19 touchdowns passing in 2016 as a sophomore. As the Bulldogs look to get back to the CIAA championship game in 2017, Hall will spearhead the mission.
Lavatiae Kelly, WR, Virginia Union
Kelly is a big, fast deep threat who is looking to break out in 2017. Last season, he hauled in 46 receptions for 792 yards and 6 touchdowns. Expect those numbers to grow as Kelly enters his junior season.