Saturday, August 13, 2016

Five HBCU Football Storylines to Watch in 2016


There are a number of big stories all over HBCU football this year.  Here are five that jump out:

(Alcorn State athletics web site)
Alcorn State Head Coach Fred McNair - The Braves resurgence over the last several years has been led by Jay Hopson, but Hopson hopped over to Southern Mississippi and Division I football. No one at Alcorn seems too concerned as McNair, who has been the team's assistant head coach for the past four years, takes over.  McNair, a former star Braves quarterback and the brother of late Alcorn and Tennessee Titans star Steve "Air" McNair," was also quarterbacks coach and developed high flying Alcorn QBs Joe Gibbs Jr and Lenorris Footman.  They both return, so McNair has a leg up in keeping the Braves fortunes going.

(North Carolina A&T athletics web site)
North Carolina A&T Running Back Tarik Cohen - Cohen grabbed the nation's attention - finally - when he ran wild at the Celebration Bowl in December as ESPN's cameras were watching him run for nearly 300 yards and three touchdowns is . Already North Carolina A&T's all-time leading rusher and within 641 yards of becoming the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference's career rushing leader.  That's well within reach as he's rushed for at least 1,100 yards in his first three seasons, including more than 1,500 last year in leading the Aggies to a MEAC title.

Grambling Quarterback DeVante Kincaid - For someone who wasn't even at Grambling last year, a lot will be riding on his shoulders.  The Tigers, who ran through the SWAC season undefeated at 9-0, falling only to Alcorn State in the conference title game, return seven starters to an offense that averaged 41 points a game. But none of those seven starters include last year's quarterback Jonathan Williams.  Williams' backup Trevon Cherry was solid in limited back up time last season, but Kincaid, a transfer from Ole Miss and a former highly rated recruit, is going to get a chance to lead the Tigers offense this year as they stare right at a strong Prairie View A&M squad in the SWAC title race.

Bowie State Quarteback ???? - For a season in which the Bulldogs bulldozed their way through the 2015 Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association season undefeated in regular season play (though they lost the CIAA title game and technically their first four wins wiped off the books) and advanced to the NCAA Division II playoffs, it was a season of controversy.  Midway through the campaign, Bowie State star quarterback Matthew Goggans was ruled ineligible. Nyema Washington, a freshman last season, emerged ahead of senior Trevon Bennett.  But he isn't even listed as a key returnee in the Bowie State 2016 football prospectus.  In fact, the prospectus doesn't even mention any quarterback for a team hoping to head back to the CIAA title game.

Tuskegee Defense Vs. the Miles Offense - The Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference season will have some twists and turns as Albany State returns probably the most talented team and Morehouse could be a spoiler.  But the SIAC title game looks like it can again be a Battle of Alabama as 2015 champion Miles returns star quarterback David Whipple, a solid cruiser in Jamarcus Nance while the Tuskegee defense is back in full force, led by preseason SIAC Defensive Player of the Year in defensive end Julian Morgan and last season's fourth leading SIAC tackler in linebacker Osband Thompson.