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Donal Ware

Top 5 HBCU football teams

Posted September 2, 2010

Top 5 HBCU football teams

5. Tuskegee

The Golden Tigers are stalking their fifth consecutive SIAC title with 15 starters returning. They also expect to have back WR Jonathan Lessa and All-American C Michael Stevens, a pair of former starters who missed 2009 with injuries. The Golden Tigers’ offense, not as productive last season as in previous years, should be improved with QB Josh Harris (882 yards passing, 8 TDs) as the full-time starter. Harris became the No. 1 signal caller when Jeremy Williams was injured against Albany State last year. Harris rallied the Golden Tigers to victory against Albany State and was 4-0 as the starter. All-conference and Boxtorow.com/BASN preseason All-American performer Antoine Mitchell (47 catches, 800 yards, 7 TDs), D’Mario Franklin and Lessa provide Harris a deep and talented corps of wide receivers. FBs John Pascley (415 yards rushing, 10 TDs) and Nykeem Barton (308 yards, 6 TDs) lead a running game that could use an infusion of speed. DT Danny Anderson (37 tackles, 9 sacks) and DE Darian Barnes (37 tackles, 12 sacks) anchor a strong defensive line. The secondary will miss All-American Justin Hannah but should still be formidable with the addition of Dontrell Miller, an All-America transfer from Tennessee-Martin. The Tigers open the season Saturday hosting Benedict.

4. Texas Southern

With Grambling losing Christian Anthony for the season with an apparent heart attack a few weeks back and quarterback Greg Dillion being denied a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA, an extremely talented Texas Southern makes the top five. The Tigers were the surprise in the conference in 2009, Johnnie Cole’s second season at the helm. They had their first winning record in a decade and their highest finish in the conference since 1998 after being winless in 11 games the year before Cole took over. Defense was the Tigers’ calling card in 2009 as they led SWAC and were 21st in the FCS. They will again be strong defensively. In addition to LB Dejuan Fulghum (88 tackles, 8 sacks) the entire secondary returns. The Tigers should be more potent on offense with QB Arvell Nelson (2,392 yards passing, 12 TDs), who transferred in from Iowa last season, having a full grasp of the system. Nelson has a solid offensive line protecting him, led by All-SWAC performer Charles Smith who has started the last two seasons and played every position without missing a snap. They will also get a boost with the return of WR/KR William Osborne, who sat out last season with an injury following an All-American season in 2008. There opening game against Prairie View A&M in the annual Labor Day Classic in Houston could set the tone not only for the SWAC but have early implications on the Black college national championship.

3. Florida A&M
The Rattlers’ hopes of overtaking South Carolina State and staying ahead of the rest of the MEAC revolve around their quarterback situation. They no longer have Curtis Pulley, who not only was their top passer but was also their leading rusher. Martin Ukpai is the leading candidate to replace Pulley. Ukpai, in his first collegiate start, amassed 284 yards of total offense and led the Rattlers to a victory against arch-rival Bethune-Cookman in the Florida Classic. He has to show that he can produce those numbers over an entire season. WR Isaac West (36 catches, 641 yards) will be a top target for Ukpai. RB Philip Sylvester’s (455 yards rushing, 7 TDs) workload in the running game will likely increase to make up for the yards Pulley accounted for on the ground. Defensively the Rattlers are looking to improve from their middle of the pack status of a year ago. MLB Alvis Graham (66 tackles, six sacks), S Greg Harvey and DE Marquiste Ramos are counted on to step up their play and give the Rattlers a championship caliber defense. PK Trevor Scott gives the Rattlers an additional offensive weapon. He has made 92 of 94 PATs in two seasons and 24 of 42 field goal attempts. Scott made a career-best 52-yard field against Howard last season. FAMU opens the season Thursday night against No. 13 Miami.

2. Prairie View A&M
The Panthers are hunted, no longer the hunters after winning their first SWAC championship in 35 years, and they look to have enough to stay in front of the field. The Panthers will be potent on offense against this season with All-world QB K.J. Black (70 percent completion, 2,033 yards passing, 22 TDS, 4 INTs) and All-SWAC RB Donald Babers (919 yards rushing, 9 TDs) returning. They will operate behind a line that has four starters returning, including All-SWAC performers in G James Dekle and T Tim Husey, and allowed just 19 sacks in 2009. The Panthers’ only question on offense is who will emerge as their go-to receivers after losing a pair of four-year starters. Shaun Stephens (36 catches, 404 yards) appears ready to step up. Brandon Bell and Michael Benson showed promise last year. The Panthers expect to be rock solid on defense again. DEs Marco Spears and Jamail Lavan, who missed most of 2009 with injuries, are at the heart of what should be a formidable front four. Sophomore Elton Holmes takes over at middle linebacker. He will be surrounded by returning starters Chris Ford and Max Sencherey. Boxtorow.com/BASN Preseason All-American Chris Adingupu will be the leader in the secondary. Coach Henry Frazier III’s concern on defense is replacing All-SWAC FS Anthony Beck. The Panthers will be tested right out of the gate in their opener against Texas Southern on September 5.

1. South Carolina State

The Bulldogs, the two-time defending MEAC champions, are primed to three-peat. QB Malcolm Long, who completed 64 percent of his passes for2,502 yards and 20 TDs, had a breakout junior season and should be even better this time around despite losing his top three receivers and RB Will Ford, the MEAC’s career rushing leader. Long will operate behind a seasoned line, which returns four starters, including Boxtorow.com/BASN All-American Johnny Culbreath who was the 2009 MEAC Offensive Lineman of the Year. The Bulldogs have a bevy of talented but unproven running backs vying to replace Ford with Chris Massey, Chris Merrill and Rock King and highly regarded freshman Charles Brown topping the list. The linebacking corps will set the tone on defense. Marshall McFadden returns after missing the 2009 season with an injury to a team with David Erby, Donovan Richard and Julius Wilkerson. Bulldog coaches consider Wilkerson the most talented of the quartet. The Bulldogs open the season on Saturday at No. 16 Georgia Tech.

Locally

Fayetteville State
The strength for the defensive CIAA Champion Broncos will be in the trenches as Dillon Kestner and Larry McDonald were named preseason All-CIAA. RB Richard Medlin 667 yards 10 TDs will look to have a breakout season. Wyoming transfer QB Robert Benjamin has come in and commanded a leadership role. Coach Kenny Phillips is excited about what Benjamin brings to the table from a mental and physical standpoint. While offensive coordinator Connell Maynor has moved on to become head coach at Winston-Salem State, 45-year football coaching veteran Dick Portee, who had a couple of stints as an assistant with NC State, will take over as offensive coordinator. The Broncos defense lost a lot from last year and is really young, which is of concern to Phillips. The Broncos open the season in the Two Rivers Classic on Saturday at UNC-Pembroke.

North Carolina Central
The Eagles are in their fourth season playing at the Division I level after competing in Division II as a member of CIAA. They don’t play a full conference schedule this year and aren’t eligible for the title until next season. With 61 lettermen and 17 starters returning, Coach Mose Rison is building a solid foundation. QB Michael Johnson (1,931 yards passing, 18TDs 10 INTs) was impressive last year in his first season with the Eagles and Rison will look for more from him. Geovonie Irvine (38-582-3) will be his primary target RB Tim Shankle (180-739-8) should receive the bulk of the carriers and Tony McCord (77-359-1) provides a nice change of pace. An experienced offensive line that includes four returning starters should produce time for Johnson to throw and holes for the backs. The Eagles return eight starters on defense and look to build on a strong finish on that side of the ball. LBs Donald Laster and Calvin Hillie will be the key leaders. Senior DT Teryl White anchors the line that has three starters from a year ago. DT Shane Moore, a transfer from Marshall, is expected to be a major contributor. DB Rashad Fox anchors the secondary. The Eagles have seven home games beginning Thursday evening against Johnson C. Smith.

Saint Augustine’s
Perennially the Falcons defense has always been stout but 2009 was an exception. Saint Aug's gave up almost 300 yards of total offense per game. Conversely, the offense hadn't shown much sign of life, but last year averaged over 200 yards of total offense per game. Michael Costa has been head of the program since it reinstated football in 2002 and this year he is looking for a balance and may get it. Offensively, the Falcons may have the best running back tandem in the conference in Walter Sanders and Arnold Mullins (1,016 yards, 8 TDs total). The Falcons also look like they finally have some stability at quarterback as Joaquin Green returns for his sophomore season after being named CIAA Rookie of the Year, completing 48.5 percent of his passes for 1,318 yards with 12 TDs and 10 INTs. Defensively, the Falcons should be better as LBs Steven Stanback (72 tackles, 9 tackles for loss, preseason All-CIAA) and Mark Hall (78 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss) lead the unit. The Falcons open the season on Saturday at Catawba

Shaw
The Bears were points short of going for its third-straight CIAA Championship last year losing 29-28 at Fayetteville State. The Bears will have a strong running game again this year, led by All-CIAA RB Raymond Williams (138-811-12), arguably the best back in the conference. The Bears will have a stable quarterback in former Southern Durham star Kevin Atkins who transfers in from Alabama A&M. The Bears led the conference in scoring averaging 42.1 points per game. The Bears will have a solid defense, led by preseason All-CIAA selections DL Demarcus Roberson and LB Fred Sparkman. Shaw has an opportunity to win the CIAA Championship for the third time in four years and opens the season on Saturday hosting Virginia Union at Southeast Raleigh’s John Baker Stadium.
 

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
UNC 66
BUT 74
Final
ECU 73
HAW 75
Final
DUKE 93
FUR 54
Final
CHA 97
POR 105
Final
NCSU 84
RICH 72
Final
FLA 1
CAR 0
 
Final
PHI 91
BRK 99
 
Final
ORL 96
GSW 111
Final
CHA 97
POR 105
Final
CLE 113
WAS 87
Final
DET 98
LAC 104
 
Final
DAL 109
NYK 102
 
Final
ATL 115
TOR 126
 
Final
MIN 86
MIL 103
 
Final
HOU 102
SAC 89
 
Final
OKC 97
UTA 82
 
Final
SAN 106
IND 100
 
4th
PHO 110
DEN 98
 
2nd
LAL 30
MEM 24
 
Final
UNC 66
BUT 74
Final
FRES 64
MAR 68
Final
CHAT 61
RMU 46
Final
EMICH 68
ROCH 35
 
Final
MRGST 51
LIB 50
 
Final
HAMP 60
AMER 64
 
Final
BEL 78
DEN 57
Final
UMASS 79
NE 54
Final
JMU 79
SHU 72
 
Final
KNST 84
SAMF 71
 
Final
ECU 73
HAW 75
Final
CHAM 60
MIZZ 74
Final
CCAR 61
LAMON 48
Final
OKLA 75
UCLA 65
Final
ELON 65
UNF 72
 
Final
UWMIL 66
ORU 69
Final
WCU 66
CHIST 61
Final
DUKE 93
FUR 54
Final
BYU 85
PURD 87
Final
EVAN 79
USF 72
Final
COL 71
GTDNS 75
 
Final
VERM 73
BRY 47
 
Final
OSU 91
CAMP 64
Final
LOU 45
CLST 33
Final
UCF 69
DAVID 95
 
Final
IONA 126
DELST 76
 
Final
OU 78
UGST 83
Final
TOWS 97
GOUCHER 43
 
Final
ND 81
GRAM 54
 
Final
YALE 82
LAF 60
 
Final
GWU 91
LONG 66
 
Final
VT 78
UMO 63
 
Final
WAKE 83
MNTER 49
 
Final
NAVY 67
PSUHARRIS 42
 
Final
NCSU 84
RICH 72
Final
MINN 61
STJ 70
 
Final
JVU 69
TRINBAPT 57
 
Final
YOUNG 66
UMKC 63
 
Final
UAB 43
WISC 72
 
Final
CORN 67
CAN 60
 
Final
WVU 103
VMI 72
Final
DEP 74
LEH 86
 
Final
UNT 67
MVSU 52
 
Final
MARS 68
MORE 77
 
Final
TCU 74
RAD 50
 
Final
SELA 86
TENT 65
 
Final
SMU 72
TXSOU 59
 
Final
UTAH 85
TXPA 48
 
Final
LMU 66
UCR 62
 
Final
SCAR 89
UNCA 75
 
Final
SD 86
WAYNEST 69
 
Final
PITT 70
KYST 47
 
Final
UWGB 59
FLGC 45
 
Final
IOWA 70
NILL 49
 
Final
ORST 69
AUB 71
 
Final
MONT 75
CARROLLMT 52
 
Final
SUTAH 64
EKENT 73
 
Final
NMST 78
FAM 33
 
Final
WYO 65
STET 41
 
Final
EWASH 81
NKENTUCKY 60
 
Final
IDST 57
WLVRN 60
 
2nd
GEOR 42
UF 43
 
2nd
GONZ 56
UGA 46
 
2nd
NIOWA 52
NW 37
 
2nd
CAL 33
CPSL 27
 
2nd
UCD 46
UTST 41
 
1st
SDST 29
ARZ 24
 
1st
NDAK 32
ALAST 14
 
1st
CSNO 6
PORST 10
 
11:30pm Tonight
AKAN
PAC
11:30pm Tonight
OKST
TULSA
Final
NYI 3
WAS 2
Final
BUF 1
WIN 2
Final
FLA 1
CAR 0
 
Final
TAM 4
NYR 3
 
Final
DET 5
PHI 2
 
Final
PIT 4
TOR 3
 
Final
MIN 0
LOS 4
 
3rd
COL 2
CHI 2
 
1st Intermission
SJS 0
CAL 0