By Anthony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus
To say sports fans have undergone extreme withdrawal symptoms during the COVID-19 pandemic would be a major understatement. However, later this month, they may get their first reprieve.
The NFL (as of press time) have stated they will still put on their annual College Draft extravaganza on April 23-25. Originally scheduled to be held in Las Vegas, all draft activities will be held on-line while being broadcast by the NFL Network, ABC, and ESPN Networks.
Today, we begin our annual look at the best HBCU football players that are eligible for this year’s draft. It gives our readers a look back at some of the outstanding performers of the past season who hope to turn their Saturday dreams into Sunday realities.
First up, the quarterbacks
Deondre Francois, Hampton
After playing two seasons at Florida State, the 6-foot-2, 216-pounder passed for 2,522 yards and 26 touchdowns in his one season for the Pirates. His completions and touchdowns broke school single-season records, while his yardage count was second best. In 25 games as a Seminole, he threw for 6,291 yards and 36 touchdowns — ninth and 14th, respectively, in school history. The Orlando, Fla. native was also invited to the 2020 Hula Bowl and HBCU NFL Combine.
Slade Jarman, Fort Valley State
The 2019 SIAC’s Offensive Player of The Year, the 6-foot-4, 220-pounder led the conference in passing yards per game (262.2 yds/gm) and set his personal best numbers of 174 completions in 281 attempts for 2,099 yards with 18 touchdowns to five interceptions for a 61.9-percent and a 142.25 pass efficiency rating. The Pensacola, Fla., native also rushed 123 yards on 74 carries with six touchdowns. Jarman was able to do this despite suffering a season-ending injury in the start of the third quarter of week eight’s game.
Jalen Morton, Prairie View A&M
The 6-foot-4, 226-pounder passed for more than 5,200 yards and rushed for 1,579 yards in his Panther career, accounting for 65 total touchdowns — 42 passing, 22 rushing, one receiving — over that span. One of the most dangerous dual-threats in the SWAC, Morton posted five games where he accumulated 100 yards or more passing as well as 100 yards or more on the ground. The Arlington, Tx. native was also invited to the HBCU NFL Combine.
Ryan Stanley, Florida A&M
The 2019 MEAC’s Offensive Player of The Year, Stanley led the Rattlers to a 9-2 overall record and the program’s first national ranking since 2009. The Pembroke Pines, Fla. native was the top passer in the MEAC, averaging over 256 yards per game. He has broken four program career records at Florida A&M, setting new marks for passing touchdowns, passing completions, passing attempts and passing yards. He threw for 2,566 yards and 23 touchdowns this season and had three 300-yard games, including a 427-yard outing against South Carolina State. Stanley leaves FAMU as the all-time career leader in touchdowns (67), pass attempts (1,187), completions (636) and passing yards (8,424). He is ranked first in MEAC history in pass attempts and second in total passing yards (8,424) and pass completions.
Akevious Williams, Bethune-Cookman
A three-year starter and a 2019 All-MEAC selection for the Wildcats, the Madison, Fla. native threw for 1,774 yards and 10 touchdowns while rushing for 571 yards and scoring 10 times last season. He also caught a touchdown in BCU’s win at North Carolina Central. The 6-foot-2, 188-pounder converted from running back to quarterback during his freshman season following a series of injuries.
NEXT: Running backs
Anthony McClean can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.