HBCU Classic Sports

          November 2022

   Football Edition, Volume I

HBCU FOOTBALL INSIDER

2022 HBCU Football Preview

By: Ty Prather, CEO, Founder, HBCU Classic Sports

             The 2022 HBCU football season is quickly upon us, let us preview the top teams, players, and storylines of this upcoming season.  

  1. South Carolina State Bulldogs (7-5), 2021 Black College National Champions 

Coach Oliver “Buddy” Pough – Record 143-80, (.641) – 2021 MEAC Coach of the Year 

2022 MEAC Pre-season All-Conference: QB, Corey Fields; RB, Kendrell Flowers; WR, Shaquan Davis; LB, Jeblonski Green; LB, B.J. Davis; TE, Yancy Washington; OL, Nick Taiste; DL, Patrick Godbolt; WR, Richard Bailey; TE, Deprince Haynes; OL, Camron Haynes  

courtesy: scsubulldogs.com

             The ”Don Dada” of current HBCU Football Coaches is poised to surpass 150 career wins. Always fast, always strong, the 2022 Bulldogs are the class of, not only the MEAC, but HBCU football – period. Despite losing, FCS All-American, Rams 4th Rd. pick, Decobie Durant, the Bulldogs are still loaded, both offensively and defensively. WR, Shaquan Davis and LBs, BJ Davis and Jeblonski Green are three of the finest players in college football, bar none. 

            This season’s schedule is typically top heavy, including the two economically necessary money games, Central Florida, South Carolina. Otherwise, the SCSU Bulldogs face traditionally tough rivals in FAMU, Bethune, NC A&T, and NC Central. Mirroring last season’s title run; the Bulldogs may be forced to run the MEAC table again.

  1. Jackson State Tigers (11-2), 2021 SWAC Champions

Coach Deion Sanders – Record 15-5 (.750) – 2021 FCS Coach of the Year 

2022 SWAC Pre-season All-Conference: QB, Shedeur Sanders; WR, Malachi Wideman; LB Aubrey Miller; DB, Shiloh Sanders; OL, Tony Gray; RS, Isaiah Bolden; DL, Devonta Davis; DB, Cam’ron Silman-Craig

courtesy: Sports Illustrated

          Coach Deion “Prime Time” Sanders, the self- ordained messiah of Black College football has almost single-handedly raised the profile of Jackson State football, if not, HBCU football altogether. The media frenzy surrounding JSU sports is heretofore unprecedented. (see above) Bolstered by his son, phenom QB, Shedeur Sanders, et al. the JSU Tiger’s won the 2021 SWAC Championship in his first full season. If that was not impressive enough, Coach Prime shook the college football paradigm down to its roots, by signing the top high school prospect in the nation, two-way, DB/WR, Travis Hunter.  

          This season, the bar is high, will the hunter become the hunted? While not burdened with the onerous money games, the Tigers face historically tough rivals, FAMU, Tennessee State and Grambling, in the first month. The only other non-conference test is Campbell Fighting Camels, featuring Big South Defensive Player of the Year, Brevin Allen, who will certainly test the Tiger’s reconstructed offensive line.

  1. Bowie State Bulldogs, (12-2) – 2021 CIAA Champion, DII Playoff Semifinals

Interim Head Coach Kyle Jackson – Record 0-0 (.000) 

2022 CIAA Pre-season All-Conference: OL, Quinton Bobo; OL, Mark Murphy; DL, Joshua Pryor; PR, Darious Bowman 

courtesy: bsubulldogs.com

           “Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown” wrote William Shakespeare in King Henry the Fourth, Part II, apropos in this context, considering the Bowie State Bulldogs are CIAA royalty – having owned the conference for the past three seasons. However, despite their illustrious past, this season seems different, after losing HBCU Top 50 All-time coach, Damon Wilson to Morgan State, several high-profile players defected, namely, DII All-Americans – DL, Jonathan Ross and DB, Demetri Morsell. Compounding the uncertainty, first time Head Coach Kyle Jackson, seasoned but unproven, takes the helm.  

           Despite the high degree of movement in the program, the Bulldogs have championship DNA and are expected to adapt. Their schedule is favorable, after two tough, opening non-conference contests, New Haven, Saginaw State, the Bulldogs face the much-improved Shaw Bears, and CIAA North rivals, Virginia Union, and Virginia State. They do not see CIAA South Champion, Fayetteville State, until the CIAA Championship.

  1. Albany State Golden Rams (10-2) – 2021 SIAC Champions, DII Playoff

Coach Gabe Giardina – Record 44-30 (.595) 2021 SIAC Coach of the Year 

2022 SIAC Pre-season All-Americans: QB, Dionte Bonneau; OL, KaTray Pringle; OL, Tyree Taylor; DL, Malik Barnes; LB, Stephan Pierre; OL, Jajuan Jordan; OL, Josh Simon; WR, Joe’Vantae Shorter; RB, Kamran Ward; DL, Anthony Harvey; DL, Josh Hill

courtesy: asugoldenrams.com

              Coach Gabe Giardina has returned the Albany State Golden Rams to SIAC prominence. In each of the past three seasons, Albany State reached the SIAC championship game, finally defeating Miles College in 2021. This season appears no different, the Golden Rams are stacked and favorites to win the SIAC again.

             The big question for the Golden Rams is can they win outside the SIAC? First round, DII playoff losses indicate room for improvement. Boasting an enrollment of nearly 6,000 undergraduates in SW Georgia, Albany State is directly in the crosshairs of surrounding FCS conferences. Their week 2 contest versus FAMU could be foretelling. 

courtesy: ncataggies.com

5. North Carolina A&T Aggies (5-6) – 2018, 2019, Black College National Champions

Coach Sam Washington, 24-11 (.686) 2018, 2019, MEAC Coach of the Year

2022 HBCU Pre-season All-Americans: DE, Jermaine McDaniel; DB, Karon Prunty;  LB, Jacob Roberts; DL, RickyLee III; WR, Jamison Warren; PK, Andrew Brown; RB, Bhayshul Tuten, TE, Nicholas Dobson; RB, Charlie Dixon.

     The NC A&T Aggies are rebounding from a disappointing (5-6) inaugural season in the Big South Conference.  All eyes are on Coach Sam Washington, two-time, Black College National Champion, to right the ship.

     Boasting an enrollment over 13,000 students, five MEAC crowns in six seasons and four Celebration Bowl victories, the Aggies, theoretically, outgrew the MEAC. Moreover, despite their poor debut in the Big South, the Aggies double-downed and joined the even more competitive Colonial Athletic Association (CAA).

     Only time will tell the validity of their theory, but all indicators are pointing upward. After their historic run to close out the winningest decade in school history. They lost star players to the NFL: OL, Brandon Parker, and DB, Mac McClain; were benched by COVID for the 2020 season; and needed to reload.

     The 2022 Aggies are loaded with healthy, veteran players on both sides of the ball. They will need them all, as the first month of the season is about as tough as any in FCS football. Wise scheduling means they are all non-conference games, but nevertheless, one heck of a litmus test. Anything better than (2-2) should place them inside the FCS Top 20. Naturally, expectations are high, with the Aggies predicted to win the Big South in their second season, which bodes well for their next move.