By Anthony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus
NEW HAVEN — As we enter the fourth day of our NFL Draft primers, the “skill position” players have been given their day in the sun.
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.
Today, we finish up the offensive side of the ball with a look at the lineman.
BRANDON PARKER (6-7, 317) NORTH CAROLINA A&T
One of the most decorated players in A&T history, this three-time All-MEAC performer and two-time All-American has been the anchor of the Aggies’ offensive line during his time at Greensboro. The Kannapolis, N.C. native carried them to have the MEAC’s No. 1 rushing offense for three straight seasons. In 2017, the Aggies ranked No. 1 in the MEAC in 3rd down conversion, total first downs, rushing offense, scoring offense, fewest tackles for loss allowed, fewest sacks allowed and total offense. His stock rose even further after his performance at the NFL Draft Combine.
TRENTON SCOTT (6-4, 320) GRAMBLING STATE
A three-time All-SWAC selection and a two-time All-American, Scott solidified himself as one of the finest linemen in the country. Scott finished with a 90-percent grade for the back-to-back SWAC champions. He also had 39 pancakes with 32 downs and didn’t allow a sack all season. In fact, Scott only allowed just three sacks over his collegiate career. The Huntsville, Ala. native was also selected to play in the College Gridiron Classic in January.
TIMOTHY GARDNER (6-5, 340) ALCORN STATE
Another talented, two-time All-SWAC performer and All-American, Gardner helped to anchor an offensive line that helped the Braves lead the SWAC in both total offense and rushing offense. The Indianapolis native and Ohio State transfer heavily aided ASU in racking up 461.3 yards per game and 237.4 rushing yards per outing – both marks were top-10 in the country. Gardner also blocked for All-SWAC standout De’Lance Turner who broke the school’s single-season rushing record with 1,357 yards on the year which was second-most in the country.
GERALD WRIGHT (6-4, 310) HOWARD
A two-time All-MEAC selection and All-American, Wright was a big part of the Bison’s huge turnaround campaign. The Miami native helped HU lead the nation in passing yards per completion and the conference in total offense and rushing yards. He was also named the MEAC’s Offensive Lineman of the Week following the Bison’s historic upset of UNLV in their season opener.
TY ALLEN (6-2, 306) TENNESSEE STATE
A two-time All-OVC selection, the versatile Allen started 10 games for the Tigers, seven at right guard and three at center, before missing the final game of the season due to injury. He would recover and play in the College Gridiron Showcase in January. In 2016, the Warner Robbins, Ga. native was part of a TSU line that helped the Tigers lead the OVC in scoring by averaging 32.3 points per game. The line only allowed an OVC low 14 sacks.
LEEWARD BROWN (6-4, 315) TUSKEGEE
A three-time All-SIAC selection and All-American, Brown was the team leader with 35 pancakes and played all four positions this past season. He’s one of the reasons TU’s backfield averaged a league-leading 8.0 yards per carry. He also helped running back Hoderick Lowe earn MVP honors in December’s SIAC Championship game when he rushed for a game-high 124 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The Miami native graded out at 90 percent in every game this season.
VICTOR TAMBA JR. (6-5, 335) BOWIE STATE
A two-time All-CIAA selection and a finalist for the Gene Upshaw Award (best offensive lineman in Division II), Tamba was one of the anchors for the nation’s top-ranked offense. Playing left tackle, the District Heights, Md. native helped the Bulldog offense rack up 5.2 yards per rushing attempt and 14 yards per reception. In all, BSU rolled up 6,229 yards of total offense en route to a CIAA championship and a trip to the NCAA Playoffs.
CHRIS ADAMS (6-4, 300) BETHUNE-COOKMAN
An All-MEAC selection in 2017, Adams played and started in all 11 games for the Wildcats at center, grading out at 92 percent on all assignments for the season. The Daytona, Ohio native was named MEAC Offensive Lineman of the Week following a road win at Southeastern Louisiana, in addition to accumulating eight pancake blocks with 11 downfield blocks.
TEDRICK COFIELD (6-3, 300) ALBANY STATE
A two-time All-SIAC performer, the Atlanta native anchored an offensive unit that led the conference in scoring, passing and red zone offense and ranked second in both rushing offense and total offense.
SAM BAPTISTE (6-3, 325) ALABAMA STATE
A two-time All-SWAC performer, Baptiste consistently graded out at over 80 percent for the year after playing in all but one game. The Waycross, Ga. native showed his versatility throughout the season by playing at both guard and tackle. He recorded eight pancakes and allowed a pair of sacks.
Up next: Defensive lineman