Monthly Archives: July 2012
Playing in the NFL is the goal of every kid that straps on a helmet, from Pop Warner to college football. The reality is, only a small number of men ever attain that goal. Even the majority of the thousands of young men who receive scholarships to play the sport in college never sniff the professional ranks.
It’s the same story for athletes competing at Historically Black Colleges and Universities these days. In the days before mass integration, HBCUs were gold mines for overlooked professional talent. Even after major colleges began to recruit black players heavily, these schools still managed to find diamonds in the rough like Mississippi Valley State’s Jerry Rice and Alcorn State’s Steve McNair in the 80s and 90s. But in today’s technologically advanced world where major colleges begin scouting players before their first high school games, such finds are fewer and further between.
As the NFL teams begin training camp, there are currently 70 former HBCU players listed on team rosters. Hampton leads all HBCUs with a total of eight alumni competing for roster spots, including former Pirate defensive linemen and current New York Jets Kendrick Ellis and Marcus Dixon. Tennesse State is next up, with seven former players on NFL rosters. MEAC rival South Carolina State and Tennessee State follow with five players each. Bethune-Cookman, Jackson State and Southern came in third with four players each. Alabama State, Alcorn State, FAMU, Grambling State, Howard and Morgan State all had three players in training camps.
Overall 27 of these players came from the MEAC and 17 from the SWAC, respectively.
The Jacksonville Jaguars currently have a league-high five players from HBCUs on their roster. The Indianapolis Colts feature four HBCU products, including veteran Alabama A&M product Robert Mathis.
How does your HBCU fit in? See check out the chart below.
* Denotes rookie players
|Robert Mathis||Colts||DL||Alabama A&M|
|Frank Kearse||Panthers||DL||Alabama A&M|
|Michael Coe||Giants||DB||Alabama State|
|Tavaris Jackson||Seahawks||QB||Alabama State|
|*Nigel Carr||Ravens||LB||Alabama State|
|Nate Hughes||Lions||WR||Alcorn State|
|Donald Driver||Packers||WR||Alcorn State|
|Emanuel Arceneaux||Vikings||WR||Alcorn State|
|*Delano Johnson||Texans||LB||Bowie State|
|Issac Redmond||Steelers||RB||Bowie State|
|Dominique Curry||Lions||WR||Cheyney University|
|Curtis Holcomb||49ers||DB||Florida A&M|
|Bryan Tyms||49ers||WR||Florida A&M|
|*Kevin Elliot||Jaguars||WR||Florida A&M|
|Dionte Dinkins||Rams||DB||Fort Valley State|
|Ricardo Lockette||Seahawks||WR||Fort Valley State|
|Marquette King||Seahawks||P||Fort Valley State|
|Jason Hatcher||Cowboys||DL||Grambling State|
|Larry Donnell||Giants||TE||Grambling State|
|*Mario Louis||Texans||WR||Grambling State|
|Marcus Benard||Browns||DL||Jackson State|
|D.J. Johnson||Colts||DB||Jackson State|
|Donavan Robinson||Saints||LB||Jackson State|
|Jaymar Johnson||Cardinals||WR||Jackson State|
|Jacoby Jones||Ravens||WR||Lane College|
|Visanthe Shiancoe||Patriots||TE||Morgan State|
|*Jourdan Brooks||Bengals||RB||Morgan State|
|Lamont Bryant||Panthers||WR||Morgan State|
|Don Carey||Lions||DB||Norfolk State|
|Quinton Spears||Browns||LB||Prarie View|
|Adrian Hamilton||Cowboys||LB||Prarie View|
|Greg Toler||Cardinals||DB||St. Pauls|
|Raphael Bush||Broncos||DB||South Carolina State|
|Christian Thompson||Ravens||DB||South Carolina State|
|Donovan Richard||Jaguars||LB||South Carolina State|
|Dominique Ellis||Chiefs||DB||South Carolina State|
|James Lee||Redskins||OL||South Carolina State|
|*Javarris Williams||Cowboys||RB||Tennessee State|
|Anthony Levine||Packers||DB||Tennessee State|
|Cecil Newton, Jr.||Ravens||C||Tennessee State|
|*Donte’e Nicholls||Buccaneers||LB||Tennessee State|
|*Rico Council||Falcons||LB||Tennessee State|
|Dominique Rogers-Cromartie||Cardinals||DB||Tennessee State|
|Lamar Divens||Titans||DL||Tennessee State|
|David Mims||Chiefs||OL||Virginia Union|
|William Hayes||Rams||DL||Winston-Salem State|
|*Nick Cooper||Packers||RB||Winston-Salem State|
Looks like State Farm is pulling its sponsorship of Penn State’s football program. The New York Times reports that a spokeswoman for the company confirmed the insurance giant is severing ties with the university. Compared to the sanctions that the NCAA levied on the football program on Monday and the public relations nightmare that has been the university’s reality since the scandal broke, this isn’t catastrophic news.
State Farm’s signs will be removed from Beaver Stadium and the company will no longer place ads on Penn State radio broadcasts.
My first question is: What in the hell took so long? This scandal broke last November, and State Farm is just now making the decision to no longer support a program contributed to the molestation of dozens of young children?
Also, this decision comes less than a month after the company announced it would no longer serve as the primary sponsor for the annual Bayou Classic game between Grambling State and Southern University.
So you mean State Farm decided to pull the plug on sponsoring a beloved event like the Bayou Classic before dropping Penn State from it’s pay list? Where are your priorities, State Farm?
DURHAM, NC– North Carolina Central’s coaching situation just got clearer as the school reinstated Henry Frazier as head football coach. Frazier was put on paid administrative lead by the school this past may after being arrested and charged with assaulting his wife, LaNier.
“Coach Frazier is remorseful for the distraction to the university,” NCCU Chancellor Charlie Nelms said in a statement. “North Carolina Central University stands on century-old values and high standards that we expect and require from all members of our community. These core principles include mutual respect and the absence of violence in resolving conflict.”
According to the media release, the legal matter has been resolved. However, the Associated Press’ calls to the Morrisville Police Department went unanswered.
Frazier lead the Eagles to a 2-9 season their first season as full member’s of Division I’s MEAC Conference. The Eagles were predicted to finish ninth in the conference during Friday’s conference Media Day.
Eddie Robinson is once again the NCAA Football’s All-Time Wins leader (Division I), but the crown is much heavier than when he last wore it.
The now deceased former head coach of Grambling State University finished his career with 408 wins, which stood at second all-time after Joe Paterno’s won his 409th game at Penn State in 2011. That win as well as 111 others were vacated as the NCAA came down hard with sanctions on the university as a result of the Jerry Sandusky Child Abuse Scandal.
What a difference a year makes. This time last year, Joe Paterno was preparing to lead his 44th Penn State team on a quest for a Big-Ten title. A year later, Paterno is dead and his legacy is quickly following suit. The NCAA’s ruling comes just days after Paterno’s statue was removed from in front of Beaver Stadium.
Last week, Mayor Edward Jones of Grambling, LA sent a letter to the NCAA requesting that Paterno be stripped of some of his wins. While it’s doubtful that the sanctions had anything to do with that letter, Robinson is now the Division I Wins Leader for the foreseeable future. The closest active Division I coach is Virginia Tech’s Frank Beamer, who at 251 wins has a long way to go before catching Robinson.
Some in the HBCU community have been calling on Paterno’s record to be re-evaluated as well. Robinson, who died in 2007, was by all accounts a model citizen. And his coaching record speaks for itself. Forty-five winning seasons. 17 Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) titles. Nine Black College Football National Championships. Not to mention dozens of NFL stars who came through his program, including Willie Davis, Willie Brown and Doug Williams.
One has to wonder, though, how Robinson would have felt about regaining the title under such circumstances. While I’m sure he would have been adamantly against the atrocities committed under the Penn State banner, I seriously doubt he would have been proactive in trying to regain the title at Paterno’s expense.
That’s debatable, but matters little since both Paterno and Robinson are now gone. What they have both left behind is a legacy. Legacies are always for the living, more so than the dead.
Surely many people will see Robinson’s name and decide that his spot on the list deserves an asterisk. Yeah, he’s number one but that’s only because Paterno got robbed, they’ll say. They’ll point to the fact that after integration, his teams competed against an overall lower level of talent than Paterno’s squads, and that Grambling was not in Division I for a good chunk of his coaching career.
Just know that Eddie Robinson earned his spot on the list. It’s not his fault Paterno knew innocent children were being raped and did nothing to stop it, or even enabled the predator to do so. All Robinson did was take a small black school with meager resources and transformed it into a football powerhouse despite his obstacles. He earned that record while he was alive and it would be despicable to deprive him of it in death. It would be a grave mistake to let the poor choices of one man, tarnish the crown of another.
Norfolk State won its first ever MEAC Football championship last year, after joining the conference back in 1997. Now, it finds itself in the unfamiliar position of being the favorite to wear the conference’s crown.
The MEAC released the results of its preseason poll of conference coaches and SIDs at the annual media day on Friday, with the Spartans receiving 11 first-place votes. South Carolina State was second, receiving four first-place votes. Also receiving one first-place vote was Hampton, who along with North Carolina A&T, is ineligible for the NCAA Bowl Subdivison Playoffs, should they win the regular season title.
Florida A&M, picked to finish fourth in the conference, placed five players on the preseason version of the All-Conference first team, as did Norfolk State. North Carolina A&T running back Mike Mayhew and Howard linebacker Keith Pough are the preseason selections for Offensive and Defensive Player of The Year awards.
Norfolk State will look to repeat as champions despite the loss quarterback Chris Walley and seven starters from last season’s squad that held opponents to just 17 points per game in route to a 9-3 (7-1 MEAC) record.
MEAC FOOTBALL PRESEAON POLL
(Head Coaches and Sports Information Directors)
1. Norfolk State
2. South Carolina State
4. Florida A&M
6. North Carolina A&T
7. Morgan State
9. North Carolina Central
10. Delaware State
11. Savannah State
QB -Greg McGhee, Howard, So.
RB – Mike Mayhew, North Carolina A&T, Sr.
RB – Isidore Jackson, Bethune-Cookman, Jr.
WR – Xavier Boyce, Norfolk State, Sr.
WR – Tavis Tarpley, Delaware State, Sr.
TE – Joeseph Hawkins, Norfolk State, Sr.
C – Michael Kay, Norfolk State, Sr.
OL – Steven Robinson, Florida A&M, Sr.
OL – Blake Matthews, Norfolk State, Sr.
OL – Terrence Hackney, Bethune-Cookman, Jr.
OL – Cory Gwinner, Howard, Sr.
DL – Tony Mashburn, North Carolina A&T, Sr.
DL – Padric Scott, Florida A&M, Sr.
DL – Richard, Ndubueze, Morgan State Sr.
DL – Mathhew Davis, Hampton, Jr.
LB – Keith Pough, Howard, Sr.
LB – Jarkevis Fields, Bethune-Cookman, Jr.
LB – D’Vonte Grant, North Carolina A&T, So.
DB – John Ojo, Florida A&M, Sr.
DB – DeVontae Johnson, Florida A&M, So.
DB – Travis Crosby, North Carolina A&T, Jr.
DB – D.J. Howard, Bethune-Cookman, Jr.
First-Team Special Teams
PK – Everett Goldberg, Norfolk State, Sr.
P – Brandon Holdren, Florida A&M, Sr.
RS – Geovonie Irvin, North Carolina Central, Sr.
QB – Damien Fleming, Florida A&M, So.
RB – Antwon Chisholm, Hampton, Jr.
RB – Travis Davidson, Morgan State, Sr.
WR – Eddie Poole, Bethune-Cookman, Sr.
WR – Justin Wilson, Delaware State, Sr.
TE – Kris Drummond, Savannah State, So.
C – Tristan Bellamy, South Carolina State, So.
C – Vincent Harper, Hampton, Jr.
OL – Sam Hammond, South Carolina State, Sr.
OL – Nathan Isles, North Carolina A&T, Jr.
OL – Cameron Williams, Norfolk State, Jr.
OL – Marquell Rozier, Bethune-Cookman, Jr.
DL – Xavier Proctor, North Carolina Central, Sr.
DL – Leon Smith, South Carolina State, Sr.
DL – Herold Love III, Bethune-Cookman, Sr.
DL – Brandon Young, North Carolina A&T, Sr.
LB – Delbert Tyler, Hampton, Jr.
LB – Joe Thomas, South Carolina State, Jr.
LB – Lyndell Gibson, Hampton, Sr.
DB – Justin Blake, Hampton, Sr.
DB – Kenneth Ridley, Morgan State, Jr.
DB – Darius Drummond, South Carolina State, Jr.
DB – DeCarlos Knight, Howard, Sr.
Second-Team Special Teams
PK – Taureab Durham, Hampton, Sr.
P – Jordan Stovall, Hampton, Jr.
RS – Darius Drummond, South Carolina State, Jr.
The CIAA released its preseason projections for 2012 during the conference’s annual media day on Thursday in Petersburg, VA. Winston-Salem State, last season’s champion and NCAA Division II Semifinalist, was chosen as the favorite to wear the league crown in 2012. Four of the top five schools hail from the conference’s Southern Division, with last-season’s runner up Elizabeth City State the Northern Division’s lone top-five projection.
Below is the complete list.
2012 CIAA Predicted Order of Finish
1. Winston-Salem State
2. Elizabeth City State
3. Saint Augustine’s
4. Fayetteville State
6. Bowie State
7. Virginia State
8. Johnson C. Smith
9. Virginia Union
11. Lincoln (Pa.)
We’ll have more news and notes from today’s media day coming shortly.
The 2012 version of Jackson State’s football squad will be playing for more than just another SWAC title. They’ll be playing in the memory of a fallen comrade as teammate Vincent Jones died after a lengthy battle with cancer.
“Vincent was a wonderful young man,” said JSU head coach Rick Comegy. “He was well liked by everyone in the football program and he will truly be missed.”
The 6’3, 320 pound offensive lineman from Jackson, MS joined the Tigers prior to the 2011 season.
It goes without saying that this is a huge loss for the young man’s family, but also for Jackson State. Football players usually room together, take the same classes and of course, practice together during the season. Jones will surely be on his teammate’s minds as they take the field in Starkville, MS to face Mississippi State and throughout the 2012 season.
The team is expected to compete for the SWAC Championship after being ranked second in the Eastern Division during the conference’s annual media day.
The start of NFL training camps in late July are the light at the end of the tunnel for the NFL fan. For grizzled veterans, it is a necessary evil on the way to the start of the regular season. For young players it is a time to move up the depth chart. And for undrafted rookies, it is the chance of a lifetime. Every snap of every practice is an audition for a role millions dream of but few ever achieve. The competition is fierce and there’s little margin for error. The stakes are high, to say the least.
This is the situation that Nic Cooper finds himself in at this moment. The former Winston-Salem State running back was not picked in last April’s NFL Draft, but was signed by the Green Bay Packers shortly thereafter. He’s made it past the rookie mini-camps and OTAs and is a week away from his first NFL training camp.
It’s been quite an odyssey for the Clinton, NC native. After a standout high school career, Cooper redshirted his first year and also became a father. He led the Rams in rushing his first season, despite not starting a game and being yanked out by then-WSSU coach Kermit Blount for fumbling issues. Even as a redshirt freshman, it was clear the kid had talent. I remember him running all over Savannah State that season and thinking WSSU might have something special on their hands.
Cooper experienced a temporary set back the next year, sitting out the ’09 season to focus on academics. Cooper fought his way back onto the field the next year and was engine that nearly drove the 13-1 Rams to the Division II Championships, rushing for over 1,800 and 22 touchdowns.
Cooper is currently one of three fullbacks on the Packers roster, along with Jon Hoese and veteran John Kuhn. In today’s pass happy NFL, the role of the fullback has become increasingly diminished. Most teams only keep two on the roster at most, so needless to say that Cooper will need to be on point if he hopes to stick with the 2010 Superbowl Champs or make another NFL Roster. Still, given his track record of overcoming adversity, I wouldn’t call it a long shot.
With the blistering heatwave that has impacted most of the country, many people may be surprised to look at their calendars and see that August is just a few weeks away. In the college football calendar, this is Conference Media Day season. For the uninitiated, conference media days are when on-field rival players and coaches put down the gloves and meet up in air-conditioned hotel conference rooms to discuss the upcoming season with the media.
The four HBCU conferences are all holding their media days this week. The SWAC held theirs July 17 in Birmingham as did the SIAC in Tucker, GA. The CIAA Media Day will be July 19 in Petersburg, VA and the MEAC’s Luncheon will take place in Norfolk, VA on Friday, July 20.
Having been to a couple of these ventures, it’s definitely an experience. Players are either over-excited to be there or arrive damn-near comatose. There’s usually not much middle ground. That’s because Sports Information Directors (SIDs) and coaches usually get to together and decide who should represent the program, and the guys really don’t have the choice to decline. So as a reporter you either get the guy that gives you dread “yes” or “no” answers and middle-of-the-road, straight-from-the-coach’s-playbook quotes “It is what it is,” or “We’re just gonna practice and play hard.” Boring.
Then there’s the kid who gives gives candid answers that the reporters love and the coaches loath. He’s usually a good kid, just cocky with an over-inflated sense of ego (usually a defensive back or receiver). He’s the guy who coaches give dirty looks as he says, “I definitely think I’m worthy of preseason first-team. In fact, I should’ve made it last year too.” Most SIDs and coaches have a pretty good handle on who these kids are and wisely leave them on campus.
Then there is the rare occasion where they select a talented, cerebral and articulate young man who provides you with insightful answers. This is an athletic department’s dream. Especially at an HBCU. He won’t say anything to embarrass the program, but he doesn’t come off like a robot to the media. This matters. Trust me.
Anyway, in addition to interviewing players and coaches about the upcoming season, media day also provides the usually conservative, but sometimes controversial preseason predictions. Coaches and media weigh in on where they think teams will rank when the dust settles and what players will shine. It’s all a crap shoot, but with the season well over a month away, it gives folks something to talk about. So far, the SIAC predicts Miles will repeat as champs, while the SWAC dubbed Grambling State (Western) and Alabama State (Eastern) Division Winners. Also Grambling running back Dawarence Roberts and Jackson State lineman Joseph LeBeau were named the conferences preseason Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year, respectfully.
What can we expect from the CIAA Media Day today? The Winston-Salem Journal’s John Dell gives us a preview on his Winston-Salem State sports blog, Ram Ramblings. You won’t find a more well-respected reporter in North Carolina, and certainly not the CIAA than Dell. Anyway, he believes the Rams will win the Southern Division despite having a huge target on their back one season after going 13-1 and just missing the Division II championship game. One thing is for sure, the Rams won’t be sneaking up on anybody this season.
View the CIAA Football Media Conference live.
Though most HBCU Sports heads are gearing up for the upcoming football season in mid-July, let’s talk hoops for a minute. Summer time means summer league ball, specifically NBA Summer League basketball. While the USA Olympic team is receiving most of the attention of the basketball world, NBA rookies and youngsters are working on their game and trying to make a name for themselves. One of those players is former Norfolk State big man, Kyle O’Quinn.
You may remember O’Quinn as the catalyst for MEAC champion Norfolk State’s upset win over no. 2 Missouri in last season’s NCAA Tournament. The 6’9 Queens, NY native was picked in the second round (49th overall) by the Orlando Magic in last month’s draft and so far he’s looking like a potential second-round steal.
He averaged nearly 9 points and 6 rebounds per game while shooting 54 percent in the AirTran Airways Orlando Pro Summer League. More impressive than his numbers was his presence inside while competing with the likes of first round picks Andre Drummond, Jared Sullinger and Miles Plumlee. His play earned him second-team all-league status and high praise around the basketball world.
He has quickly made an impression around the league with his summer league play as “high energy” and a “glue guy,” two attributes that will help him make the cut on any NBA roster. While the primary news coming out of Disneyland this summer may have to do with the future of Dwight Howard, one thing the Magic can count on is that O’Quinn will hustle on both ends of the ball. (He won the league’s Defensive Player of the Year in addition to overall Player of The Year Honors.) Only time will tell if O’ Quinn turns into another HBCU steal like Virginia Union’s Ben Wallace or Shaw’s Flip Murray, but I wouldn’t bet against this kid.