By Anthony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus
NEW HAVEN — Welcome to Day Two of our 2018 NFL Draft primers.
Over the next few days leading up to the three-day hootenanny in Texas, we’ll take a look at the best black college football players available in this year’s draft. Despite the fact that several starters, Pro Bowlers, and Hall of Famers have come out of these campuses, HBCU players still get marginalized and overlooked during these yearly affairs.
Each day, we’ll focus on the best available HBCU players at each position offensively and defensively. Some of them you may have heard of, others you may be introduced to for the first time. Whether you’re a true draftnik or just a casual observer, you’ll definitely be a little bit more informed as you sit and watch the proceedings.
Part One was all about quarterbacks. Today, it’s all about the running backs.
MARTEZ CARTER (5-7, 204) GRAMBLING STATE
From college walk-on to three-time All-SWAC standout, this Louisiana native has more than lived up to his “Mr. Excitement” moniker. Carter accounted for nearly 3,000 all-purpose yards and over 40 touchdowns in four years at GSU. Last season, he posted 1,560 all-purpose yards (854 on the ground) and 12 touchdowns while helping to lead the Tigers back to the Celebration Bowl. He turned even more heads in January at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl in January. He led all players in rushing yards and had some scouts comparing him to Chicago’s super rookie Tarik Cohen from North Carolina A&T. He’s more than ready for his NFL closeup.
TRENTON CANNON (6-0, 190) VIRGINIA STATE
The CIAA’s two-time Offensive Player of the Year and Division II All-America has truly been the “Trojan Horse” for VSU during his career. The school’s all-time leading rusher (4,106) finished his senior season by leading the CIAA in rushing (1,387) and yards per game (154.1). He also produced 14 touchdowns while averaging 245 all-purpose yards per game. All this while leading the Trojans to an undefeated regular season, a CIAA title, and a trip to the NCAA playoffs. He also performed in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl and was recently named the Don Hansen Division II All-Super Region Two Offensive and Special Team Player of the Year.
HODERICK LOWE (5-9, 190) TUSKEGEE
After missing the last two seasons for the Golden Tigers, this Atlanta native used his senior year to have a breakout campaign. An All-SIAC selection, Lowe led TU in rushing with 701 yards and eight touchdowns. He ran for a career-high 269 yards at Kentucky State, an effort that broke the Golden Tigers’ single-season school record. His 8.0 yards per carry also led the SIAC. A game-breaking back, Lowe had long runs of 73 yards, 75 yards, and 84-yard scores on the season. He also added 144 yards against Fort Valley State in the SIAC Championship Game. It earned him Most Valuable Player honors for the contest. Lowe accounted for over 30 touchdowns and over 2,000 rushing yards during his time at TU.
ANTHONY PHILYAW (6-0, 200) HOWARD
A three-time All-MEAC standout and two-time FCS All-American selection, Philyaw battled through injuries during his senior season while helping lead the Bison to an incredible turnaround season. The MEAC’s Preseason Offensive Player of The Year last season, he was a big part of HU’s league-leading rushing attack. After rushing for over 1,200 yards and nine touchdowns as a junior, Philyaw churned out a team-leading 789 yards along with nine touchdowns. He was also invited to participate in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl.
DE’LANCE TURNER (6-1, 190) ALCORN STATE
One of the best backs in the country, “Turner The Burner” has been a huge meal ticket for the Braves’ offense. A two-time All-SWAC selection and FCS All-American, the Mississippi native rushed for 1,357 yards which was the second-most in the nation. It also surpassed the school mark of 1,286 set by Rodney Thomas in 1998. He rushed for a career-high 272 yards against Southern which was the second-most in school history in a single game. In addition to total yards, Turner finished second in the nation in yards per carry (7.54) this year and sixth in all-purpose yards per game (146.67). He ended his career ranked fifth all-time in school history in rushing yards with 2,121 after three seasons. He holds the longest run in school history with an 88-yarder in the season-opener against Miles College.
Up next: Wide receivers and tight ends.