Thursday, August 8, 2013

Bethune-Cookman and Winston Salem State Top First Add’s HBCU Sports Report Top Ten


It’s tough not to like the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats this season. 

When a team runs through the Mid Eastern Athletic Conference undefeated, has one of the nation’s top offenses and defenses, and returns the main cogs on both sides of the ball, the Wildcats look hard to beat again this year. 

That’s why the Wildcats are the preseason number one team in black college football in 2013, according to Add’s HBCU Sports Report in their first ever Top Ten rankings.

Add's HBCU Sports Report has released its first annual HBCU football Top Ten polls for Football Championship Series (formerly Division I-AA) and Division II schools.  The Winston-Salem State Rams is ranked as the preseason top team in Division II HBCU football.

Football Championship Series (Formerly Division I-AA)

On offense, Bethune-Cookman is led by the 1-2 punch of running back Isidore Jackson and quarterback Quentin Williams.  Jackson, the MEAC’s Preseason Co-Offensive Player of the Year, rushed for 1,069 yards and had 12 touchdowns last season while Williams threw for 1,173 yards and ran for 445 more.  One of his favorite targets, All-MEAC wide receiver Eddie Poole, also returns.

The Wildcats are again loaded on defense of the ball as they return three of their top tacklers from last’s season’s squad, which had one of the nation’s top seven defenses.  Jarkevis Fields had 103 tackles in 2012 and has been named the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference’s Preseason Defensive Player of the Year while Nick Addison, one of the nation's best pass defenders, had 62 tackles and four interceptions last year.

It won’t take long to figure out where the Wildcats stand this year.  They open up in Nashville when they visit third-ranked Tennessee State in the John Merritt Classic on Sept. 7.  Last year, Tennessee State handed Bethune-Cookman one of their two regular season losses in a 14-7 slugfest in Florida.
Tennessee State, which finished 8-3 last season after starting 7-0, may have been some grades and a dance on a car away from the No. 1 preseason ranking this season.  Quarterback Michael German threw for 2,751 yards and 18 touchdowns last season, but is out indefinitely after he was arrested on a vandalism charge for dancing on the roof of a Ford Fiesta.  He’s also looking to become academically eligible after taking needed summer school courses.   

Losing German would be big for the Big Blue Tigers, who also lost leading rusher Trabis Ward to graduation.  But the Tigers are still seen as a big player nationally as they have been picked by a number of preseason national polls as a Top 25 team and are seen as one of the best teams in the Ohio Valley Conference.  They return junior All American cornerback Steven Godbolt III, the Ohio Valley Conference’s Preseason Defensive Player of the Year and last season’s leading tackler, linebacker Nick Thrasher, to a tough, stingy defense.  All-American tight end A.C. Leonard leads the offense, along with a huge offensive line.

Arkansas-Pine Bluff was the class of the Southwestern Athletic Conference in 2012 by blazing through a  Things shouldn’t change a whole lot as the Golden Lions return 20 starters from last year, including quarterback Ben Anderson.  Anderson threw for 2,346 yards and 16 touchdowns last season.   The SWAC’s second leading rusher, Justin Billings, is back, as are Anderson’s main targets, Ladarius Eckwood and Dez Beverly.  

Jackson State continues their rise back to their traditional rank among the nation’s top black college teams as they are ranked fourth.  The rest of the Top Ten includes South Carolina State, Alabama State, Howard, North Carolina Central, Florida A&M and Delaware State.

Football Championship Series (Formerly Division I-AA) Top Ten Poll

1)      Bethune-Cookman
2)      Arkansas-Pine Bluff
3)      Tennessee State
4)      Jackson State
5)      South Carolina State
6)      Alabama State
7)      Howard
8)      North Carolina Central
9)      Florida A&M
10)   Delaware State

Division II 

Winston Salem State could do little wrong in 2012 as they blasted through the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Conference to win their second consecutive conference championship and make it to the Division II title game.  They finished undefeated in the conference and 14-1 overall after falling in the NCAA Division II title game.

They lose a number of offensive stars, but the Rams return a number of players who got huge amounts of playing time because, well, the Rams were blowing people out so badly last season.  Leading the offense will be running back Maurice Lewis, who rushed for 1,027 yards and 13 touchdowns.  Stepping in at quarterback will be Anthony Carothers, a former Grambling transfer who played more than capably when spelling graduated all-everything quarterback Kameron Smith.  

The Rams also have back the 2012 CIAA Defensive Player of the Year Carlos Fields, a ball-hawking linebacker who had 117 tackles for the conference’s top defense, and Donnie Owens, a defensive lineman who added 7.5 sacks and 62 tackles in 2012.

Capping off a dream season, Miles College made the program’s first Division II playoff appearance in 2012 after going 8-2 and winning the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference crown.  They return All-SIAC quarterback David Thomas, who threw for 2,059 yards and 13 touchdowns last season, as well as All-Conference running back Floyd Graves.  They lost some big names on defense, but the Golden Bears have seven starters back for 2013.  Reginald Virges had 82 tackles and three interceptions last season while James Gaines III four sacks along with 52 stops. 

Chowan, who could be the surprise team in the CIAA, is ranked fourth. The rest of the Division II Top Ten is Albany State, Elizabeth City State, Johnson C. Smith, Stillman and Morehouse. 

For comprehensive, compelling and complete coverage on everything about HBCU football, bookmark and go to Add’s HBCU Sports Report.  You can also get daily, up-to-the-minute HBCU football and other HBCU sports news by following on Twitter @AddsHBCUSports.

Division II Top Ten Poll

1)      Winston Salem State
2)      Miles
3)      Tuskegee
4)      Fort Valley State
5)      Chowan
6)      Albany State
7)      Elizabeth City State
8)      Johnson C. Smith
9)      Stillman
10)   Morehouse

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