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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Exceeding Expectations: The Most Improved Teams In HBCU Football

There is still roughly a month left in college football, but several HBCU squads have already exceeded their win totals from 2013 (and beyond) with several games remaining in 2014.

Grambling State (5-3): Arguably the greatest dynasty in all of HBCU football, Grambling has experienced an amazing turnaround in its first season under Broderick Fobbs. This time last year, the program was in dissaray for all the world to see as the players decided to strike citing poor training conditions and disgregard from their administration. Flash forward a little over 365 days, and Grambling sits alone atop the SWAC, having reeled off five straight wins.

If Grambling State can keep up this run and win the SWAC title, Fobbs has to be considered for the Eddie Robinson Award, given to the best FCS coach every season.

Texas Southern (5-2): Unlike its SWAC West neighbor, TSU hasn't undergone a culture change, but it appears to have experienced a culture change. Now in his third season at the helm of the program, Darrell Aulsburry seems to have finally turned the corner with his team.

The Tigers have an explosive offense that has scored at least 30 points in six of its seven games after averaging just over 17 points per game in 2013. TSU is currently in third place in the SWAC West, behind Grambling and Southern, with back-to-back matchups against both schools in early Nov.

Livingstone (5-2): Like Grambling and Texas Southern, Livingstone has already won more games this season than it has in the last two combined. The combination of Quarterback Drew Powell and Jalen Hendricks has been a big reason for that. Powell is the CIAA's leading passer (1,603 yards) and second leading rusher (597 yards and 6 TDs), though he has turned the ball over 20 times this season. Hendricks has 65 catches for 1,003 yards and 11 scores.

After a 4-0 start, Livingstone lost two straight CIAA games before rebounding for a one-point win over Shaw last week. It will need to win out the rest of the season and get some help to win the CIAA Southern Division title, but just being in the race at this point has to be exciting for Livingstone fans.

Virginia Union (6-1): For the second season in a row, a team from the Commonwealth of Virginia has turned from a doormat to a CIAA power. Last season, it was Virginia State. This year, it's their rivals to the east, Virginia Union. VUU finished 3-7 last season, (ironically, the same record as Livingstone) but is currently tied with Winston-Salem State and Bethune-Cookman for the best record in Black College Football.

Much of the credit for the turnaround goes to new coach Mark James, as well as quarterback Kent Graham who has played efficient football for VUU.

Fort Valley State (5-2): Fort Valley State had the best record of any program on this list in 2013, winning four games and finishing second in the SIAC East. Still, it was a letdown for a traditionally strong program. FVSU's resume includes a blowout win over DI Savannah State (I know...but still...) and its two losses have come against DII power Delta State and SIAC leader Tuskegee.

If Valley wins out the rest of the way, they may get another shot at Tuskegee in the SIAC Championship next month.

Morehouse (4-3): After two down seasons, Morehouse is finally back to being a factor in the SIAC. Though they've cooled down with back-to-back losses, the Morehouse men have come back in a big way in 2014.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Photo Gallery: WSSU vs. St. Augustine's

The final score of Winston-Salem State's homecoming win on Saturday made the game seem like more of a blowout than it was. WSSU struggled with turnovers and penalties in the first half before going in to overdrive to come away with a 36-13 win over St. Augustine's on Saturday.

WSSU picked up its fifth-straight win in front of an announced crowd of over 16,000 at Bowman Gray Stadium. Quarterback Phil Sims threw three touchdowns while quarterback Rudy Johnson, who started the game, threw three interceptions.

The Rams led 20-6 at halftime despite those three first-half interceptions, but a 10 yard touchdown pass from Cyril Davis to Jordan Turkvant with under six minutes left in the third quarter cut the Falcon's deficit to a seven points.

WSSU would respond with a 10 play, 58 yard drive that ended with a four yard touchdown pass from Sims to Jerry Goodson. It would follow that up with a seven yard score by senior Maurice Lewis, his second of the day.

WSSU improves to 6-1, and will host Southern Division rival Livingstone Saturday at Bowman Gray in its home finale.

Enjoy a few more photos from the game and the halftime show.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

HBCU Football Scores: 10/18/2014

A&T 33, Delaware State 13
FAMU 31, Howard 28
Paine 38, Edward Waters 14
Winston-Salem State 36, St. Augustine's 13
Fort Valley State 24, Limestone 19
Norfolk State 21, Hampton 13
Elizabeth City State 24, Lincoln University (MO) 23
Morgan State 21, North Carolina Central 20
Livingstone 21, Shaw 20
Lincoln (MO) 62, Texas College 6 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Keep Rising To The Top: NCCU Predicted To Repeat As MEAC Champs

How do you follow up an exciting, record-breaking season of college basketball? For North Carolina Central, they hope the answer is to do it again. NCCU was picked to repeat as the MEAC's Men Basketball Champion for the 2014-15 season.

NCCU is coming off a memorable 2013-14 campaign that saw it go 28-6, winning the MEAC Tournament (it's first mens' basketball tournament title in more than 50 years) and making the NCAA Division I Tournament for the first-time ever.

If the Eagles are to repeat, they'll have do so so without their prolific backcourt of Emmanuel "Poobie" Chapman and leading scorer Jeremy Ingram, as both finished up their careers this spring. This year's squad will be led by big men Jordan Parks (preseason first-team) and Karamo Jawara (third-team).

Hampton was picked to finish second in the MEAC, after an 18-13 finish and an appearance in the CBI Tournament last season. Morgan State, runner-up to NCCU in the MEAC Tournament, was picked to finish third.

Here  is the full predicted finish:

1.      North Carolina Central (15)                          317 points
2.      Hampton (9)                                                    304 points
3.      Morgan State                                                  265 points
4.      Norfolk State                                                   225 points
5.      Delaware State                                               194 points
6.      Coppin State (1)                                              183 points
7.      Savannah State                                               182 points
8.      Howard                                                             170 points
9.      North Carolina A&T                                       153 points
10.   Bethune-Cookman                                         132 points
11.   Maryland Eastern Shore                                95 points
12.   South Carolina State (1)                                90 points
13.   Florida A&M                                                    56 points

Howard sophomore James Daniel was named MEAC Preseason Player of the Year after averaging better than 21 points per game as a freshman.

First Team
Deron Powers- Hampton
James Daniel- Howard
Taariq Craig-Coppin State
Jordan Parks- NCCU
Kendall Gray- Delaware State

Second Team
Mike Trapp- Bethune-Cookman
Jamal Fuentes- Norfolk State
Prince Okoroh- Howard
Rashid Gaston- Norfolk State
Bryan Akingugbe- North Carolina A&T

Third Team
Kendall Williams- Delaware State
Brian Darden- Hampton
Blake Bozeman- Morgan State
Bruce Beckford- NC A&T
Karamo Jawara- NCCU

NFL HBCU Alumni Series: Dallas Cowboys

Most football fans know that the Dallas Cowboys are one of the NFL's most storied pro football franchises. What many people don't know is that the team owes much of its success to finding players from the HBCU ranks. Here is a list of the greatest Dallas Cowboys from historically black colleges.

Honorable Mention:

(Dallas News Photo)

Justin Durant, Hampton:

Durant has only played in fourteen games with the Cowboys, but he's starting to catch his stride. The former Hampton star and second round pick came up huge in the team's win against Seattle, recording nine tackles and breaking up one pass.

If he stays healthy, look for him to climb up this list.

Timmy Newsome, Winston-Salem State:

Newsome had the misfortune of playing for Dallas in between dynasties.

(Spokeo.com photo)

Jethro Pugh, Elizabeth City State

Pugh was a two-time All-CIAA defensive end at ECSU, leading Dallas to select him in the 11th round of the 1965 NFL Draft. Though best known for letting Bart Starr get past him in the Ice Bowl, Pugh was a solid defensive end, unofficially credited for 95.5 sacks.

(MSNBC photo)

Thomas "Hollywood" Henderson, Langston 

Henderson would definitely rank higher on this list, if drugs hadn't derailed his career. He managed to get picked in the first round despite coming from a small HBCU in Oklahoma that played in the NAIA, which should tell you something. He helped Dallas to three Super Bowls in five seasons, including a win in Super Bowl XII.

5. Nate Newton, FAMU

After turning down offers from bigger schools, Newton became a force as an offensive tackle in the second half of his college career. Despite going undrafted, he would play 16 seasons of pro football, most memorably with the Cowboys in the 90s.

4. Everson Walls, Grambling

Walls spent much of his early career having to prove he belonged. He started out at Grambling as a walk-on, and eventually to an All-American, picking off 11 passes as a senior. A slow 40 yard dash time kept him from getting drafted.

Like Newsome, he played in between dynasties, so he's been forgotten by many fans. Despite that, the four-time Pro Bowler left his mark on the NFL, finishing his career with 57 interceptions in a much more conservative passing era.

3. Ed "Too Tall" Jones

Originally a hoops player at Tennessee State, Jones eventually found his calling as a dominant defensive end. The Cowboys picked Jones first overall in 1974, the first time a player from an HBCU had ever been selected as the league's top overall pick.

Jones would show why he was so highly picked over the next decade and a half in the league. Jones was a three-time Pro Bowl and All-Pro selection, and helped Dallas win Super Bowl XII. Despite an unnofficial sack total of 106 (the stat wasn't kept for the first part of Jones' career), Jones has yet to make it to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was, however, recognized by the Black College Football Hall of Fame.

2. Bob Hayes, FAMU 

Before Emmitt Smith made the Cowboys no. 22 a staple of 1990s jerseys, another Floridian had already put up big numbers in it. In fact, the case can be made that Smith should have never worn the jersey as it could have easily been retired by the time Smith joined the club in 1990.

Hayes was already world-famous when Dallas drafted him in the seventh round of the 1964 Draft. Hayes set the world record in the 100 yard dash, and then broke it, while he was still enrolled at FAMU.

A running back in Jake Gaither's offense, Hayes made the transition to NFL receiver with ease, earning Pro Bowl nods in his first three seasons. He would help Dallas win two NFC Championships as well as Super Bowl VI. Hayes would eventually find his way to the Hall of Fame, as he was selected in 2009, nearly seven years after his death.

1. Rayfield Wright, Fort Valley State

One of the most physically gifted athletes of his time, Wright played defensive end, tight end, free safety and even punted during his time at Fort Valley. The Cowboys drafted him in the seventh round and used him on both sides of the ball before making him a tackle full-time. The rest is history as Wright is now in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Alabama State Tabbed SWAC Hoops Favorites

SWAC football may have all of the attention right now, but hoops season is right around the corner. The conference announced its annual preseason awards and predictions, and Alabama State looks to be the clear favorite heading into the 2014-15 season.

Alabama State returns every starter from last year's 19-13 squad. Headlining the returnees is SWAC Preseason Player of the Year LeAntwan Luckett and Preseason Defensive POY Luther Page. Both players were joined on the preseason first-team by forward Bobby Brown.

ASU finished just ahead of Southern in the preseason predictions, as ASU picked up 106 points and four first-place votes.

Here's the entire predicted finish:

POINTS (FIRST Place Votes)
Alabama State106 (4)
Southern 95 (1)
Texas Southern 91 (3)
Arkansas Pine Bluff 76 (1)
Alcorn State 75 (1)
Prairie View 74 (1)
Alabama A&M 62 (1)
Jackson State 61
Mississippi Valley State 33
Grambling State 30 (1)

And the preseason all-conference squad:

GuardJamel Waters Alabama State
GuardMontrael ScottPrairie View
ForwardLeAntwan LuckettAlcorn State
ForwardBobby BrownAlabama State
CenterLuther PageAlabama State

GuardMarcel MoselyArkansas Pine -Bluff
GuardA’Torri ShineGrambling State
ForwardJose RodriquezTexas Southern
ForwardMarquis VanceAlcorn State
CenterOctavius BrownAlcorn State

Giants Sign Carlos Fields To Practice Squad

Former Winston-Salem State linebacker Carlos Fields has worn a lot of jerseys in the past year. The rookie linebacker signed with Oakland after going undrafted, then bounced to Tampa Bay after being cut. Two weeks after being let go by Tampa Bay, he's found his way to the practice squad for the New York Giants. 

Fields will join tight end Larry Donnell (Grambling) and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (Tennessee State) as the HBCU player on the Giants roster.

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About Me

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Steven J. Gaither is a multimedia journalist and founder of HBCU Gameday. Steven began covering HBCU Sports nearly a decade ago as a student at Winston-Salem State University. His work can also be found at The Shadow League, Diverse Issues In Higher Education and Slam Online.