During the entire HBCU football campaign, BASN Newsroom and the Batchelor Pad Radio Network have collaborated on choosing who we thought were the peak performers of the week this year.
As we enter the final few games of the year, BASN and the Pad are now collaborating to choose our peak performers of the year. As we’ve done all season, we’ll break down our award winners within Division I (FCS) and Division II.
Congratulations to our all of our weekly and yearly award winners as well as all HBCU coaches, players, athletic directors, and sports information directors who’ve helped us immensely throughout the 2018 season.
DIVISION I (FCS) PLAYERS OF THE YEAR
Offensive: QB Noah Johnson, Alcorn State
After helping lead the Braves to a conference title, Johnson was the voters’ choice for the SWAC Offensive Player of the Year. Following up on his Preseason All-SWAC First team nod, Johnson delivered as the redshirt junior completed a conference-best 63.4 percent of his passes (168-of-265) and threw for 1,944 yards with 15 touchdowns against eight interceptions. The Tampa, Fla. native also held the top passing efficiency with a rating of 137.7. Additionally, Johnson thrived as a dual-threat by accounting for the fifth highest total of rushing yards in the conference with 813 yards on the ground and seven touchdowns. He was second in the SWAC in total yards of offense with 2,757.
Defensive: LB De’Arius Christmas, Grambling State
Christmas was tabbed as the SWAC Defensive Player of the Year for a second consecutive season after he racked up 55 tackles, 11 tackles for a loss, 5.5 sacks, two interceptions with one returned for a touchdown and two forced fumbles. The senior linebacker from Vicksburg, Miss. also recorded seven quarterback hits and blocked a kick on the season.
Newcomer: RB Dedrick Parson, Howard University
The freshman from Philadelphia became the second straight Bison to win the MEAC’s rookie of the year award behind Caylin Newton. He ranked among the league leaders in several categories, including rushing yards (3rd), scoring (3rd) and all-purpose yards (6th). He had two 100-yard games, including a season-best 149 in the home victory over Florida A&M (Nov. 3).
Special Teams: K-P Jamie Gillan, Arkansas-Pine Bluff
One of two players who received multiple selections on this year’s All-SWAC team, Gillan was the league’s selection as the top punter and placekicker. A native of Scotland, the 6-foot-2 senior’s 82 points on the season (including 20 field goals and 22 extra points) led all players in the conference. Also, his 42.5 average per punt was second overall in the SWAC
Coach: Willie Simmons, Florida A&M
In his first season, the Tallahassee native helped resurrect the Rattlers’ program and led them to the brink of their first conference title since 2010. Tabbed to finish fifth in the preseason poll, FAMU finished 6-5 (5-2 in the MEAC) giving them their first winning records in both categories since 2011. This all came after the Rattlers went 3-8 in 2017, eighth overall in the MEAC.
DIVISION II PLAYERS OF THE YEAR
Offensive: QB Amir Hall, Bowie State
The reigning Black College Football Player of the Year as well as the two-time CIAA Offensive Player of the Year, Hall had another outstanding season. A Harlon Hill finalist, Hall led the nation in passing yards 4,152, set two CIAA All-Records during the 2018 season, throwing for a career-high 100 touchdown passes and ended his career as the All-Time Passing Yards Leader with 11,071.
Defensive: LB Devon Hunt, Shaw University
The CIAA’s Defensive Player of the year, Hunt led the CIAA in tackles per game with an average of 9.8 and a total of 98 on the season. The junior from Hamlet, N.C. was a three-time CIAA Linebacker of the Week and finished 2018 with 15.5 tackle for losses, four interceptions, two pass breakups, one fumble recovery, and a pick-six.
Newcomer: WR Kevin Greenhow, Central State
Greenhow finished the season posting 880 receiving yards and nine touchdowns with his best performance coming against a western division opponent, Tuskegee. The 6-foot-3 wide receiver led the league in receiving yards and is the first Marauder to record back-to-back games of 200 or more receiving yards since the 1995 season. Ending the season with a 5-5 overall record, CSU tied its best record since the program was reinstated in 2005.
Special Teams: K Gabriel Ballinas, Albany State
In his first full season as a kicking dual threat, the native of Guadalupe, Mexico was a First Team All-SIAC selection. The sophomore finished the campaign with 56 points (nine field goals and 29-of-31 extra points), the second most for kickers in the conference. He also averaged 39.2 yards per punt on the season which was also second overall in the SIAC.
Coach: Rich Freeman, Morehouse College
He led the Maroon Tigers to a 7-3 overall record during the 2018 campaign which earned him SIAC Coach of the Year honors. The Maroon Tigers started the season 6-0, matching their best start since 1919 which also included a victory over DI FCS member Arkansas-Pine Bluff and a second place finish in the SIAC eastern division after being picked to finish fourth in the pre-season predicted order of finish.