By Anthony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus
NEW HAVEN — As the NFL and their minions slowly migrate to Jerry’s Place leading up to the three-day hootenanny in Texas, we’ve been taking 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.
We’ve already ready focused on the best available offensive players and we’re halfway through the defense. Check out our archives if you’ve missed any of the previous primers. Yesterday, we focused on linebackers.
Today’s focus will be on the safeties.
BRENDAN COLE (6-2, 225) HAMPTON
A two-time All-MEAC performer and three-year starter, the Virginia native finished the 2017 campaign with 51 tackles and had a season-high 12 against eventual NCAA Tournament participant Monmouth. He finished his Pirate career with 67 solo tackles and four picks.
MONTREL MEANDER (6-2, 215) GRAMBLING STATE
A former running back who converted from wide receiver to defensive back, Meander had 49 tackles (30 solos) and two picks in 13 games for GSU in 2017. A transfer from Texas in 2015, the Amarillo native impressed scouts at the Tigers’ pro day back in March. He ran a 4.44 40 (the fastest of any player), benched 225 pounds 15 times, recorded a 10-foot, 4-inch broad jump and a 37-inch vertical.
CARLO THOMAS (6-2, 195) JOHNSON C. SMITH
A three-time All-CIAA performer, Thomas completed his senior season in 2017 with 64 total tackles while recording 8.5 for loss. He also had 2.0 sacks and three interceptions. He capped his stellar JCSU career by picking off two passes in JCSU’s 27-14 road win against rival Livingstone on Nov. 4, 2017. In his three-year career, he picked off 22 passes, breaking the career interceptions mark that was previously held by standout Willie Jones, who garnered 21 interceptions in his career from 1975-78.
ED KIRKLAND (6-1, 205) BENEDICT COLLEGE
A two-time All-SIAC performer, Kirkland was third on the team this season in total tackles with 43 tackles. He also led the team with four interceptions and had five pass breakups. As a junior, he was also an All-Region selection. He finished his career with 107 solo tackles and 8 picks. He also participated in the 4th Annual FCS Bowl back in December.
RONNIE SCOTT (5-10, 200) ALABAMA STATE
An All-SWAC selection in 2017, the Tampa, Fla. native played in all but one game last season, starting nine, and finished tied for third in the conference and led the team in interceptions with three, returning a pair of those for touchdowns (Troy and Alabama A&M). He recorded 162 yards in return yardage on the interceptions and is listed at 55th in the nation in interceptions per game. Scott finished with 18 total tackles as a shutdown corner with one tackle for loss, while recording nine pass breakups and a forced fumble.
EVERETT NICHOLAS (6-0, 190) MISSISSIPPI VALLEY STATE
A two-time All-SWAC performer, Nicholas played in 20 games for the Delta Devils between the 2016 and 2017 seasons. During his time on the field, he tallied 40 solo tackles, 12 assists for a total of 52 tackles. His highlight reel includes six interceptions returned for 20 yards. A native of Atlanta, he also participated in the sixth annual Spirit of America Bowl back in January.
Up next: Cornerbacks