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 continue with 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.
We opened with the quarterbacks. Today’s focus is on the running backs.
Jordan Bentley, Alabama A&M
The Guntersville, Ala. native closed out his collegiate career in the fall with a record-setting season. The 6-foot-1, 217-pounder back set new Bulldog records in career rushing yards (3,204), single-season rushing yards (1,417), single-game rushing yards (245), career touchdowns (39), single-season touchdowns (18), career points and single-season points. As a senior, Bentley was a first-team All-America and first-team all-SWAC selection. The 2016 SWAC Freshman of Year was also invited to the HBCU NFL Combine.
Shai McKenzie, Hampton
A 2019 All-Big South selection, McKenzie became the first Hampton back with 1000 yards since 2012 as he finished with the fourth highest single season total in school history of 1,214 yards. His 216 carries is sixth most in single-season history. The 5-foot-11, 224-pounder ran for a career-best 167 yards in his final game against Monmouth, which is the most yards that Monmouth had given up to a running back this season. He had seven 100-yard games, including four in a row. The Washington, Pa. native finished the regular season second in the Big South and 11th in FCS in rushing yards.
Taeyler Porter, Arkansas Pine-Bluff
A two-time All-SWAC selection, the 5-foot-11, 202-pounder became just the third player in program history with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. Porter rushed for 1,027 yards and a career-high 12 touchdowns in only 10 games in leading the Golden Lions to their first winning season since 2012. He posted four 100-yard rushing games, highlighted by a season-best 197-yard, two-touchdown game in the 45-13 win in the season finale against Texas Southern to clinch the winning season. The Immokalee, Fla. native had a school-record 98-yard touchdown run against Lane that proved to be the game-winner in UAPB’s 45-38 victory over the Dragons, the first homecoming win for the program since 2012.
Stevie Green, Fayetteville State
The 6-foot-1, 190-pounder is the Broncos current all-time rusher with 4,426 yards with 41 touchdowns and was named to the All-CIAA First Team after rushing for 1,071 yards last season with 14 touchdowns. The Washington, N.C. native averaged 107.1 yards per game and 6 yards per carry. He was previously named the CIAA’s Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2016.
Terraris Saffold, Central State
The native of Hayneville, Ala. was one of the top runners in the SIAC with 962 rushing yards last season and tied for the conference lead with 10 touchdowns. He ended the regular season leading the SIAC in all-purpose yards and ranked seventh in Division II with a total of 1681. He ran for 100 or more yards in four games in 2019 which included a career-best 235 yards on the ground against Fort Valley State. In addition to his All-American honors, the 6-foot, 190-pounder also earned All-Region honors and All-SIAC honors.
Tabyus Taylor, Virginia Union
The Hopewell, Va. native rushed for 865 yards and eight touchdowns in 10 games during the 2019 season. The bruising 6-foot, 250-pounder had his best season in 2018, his first season as a starter, when he ran for 1,546 yards and 21 touchdowns averaging 6.3 yards per carry. Taylor originally committed to Virginia Tech as a part of its 2014 signing day class, but never suited up for the Hokies.
Dawonya Tucker, Prairie View A&M
The 5-foot-5, 180 pounder was one of the most dynamic playmakers in the country during his time on the Hill. He rushed for 1,000 yards twice, earning All-SWAC honors twice. For his Panther career, the Terrell, Tx. native ran for 3,108 yards and 30 touchdowns and accounted for more than 4,300 all-purpose yards. In 2019, Tucker rushed for 1,121 yards and 15 touchdowns — both second-most in the league — on 180 carries. Among league players with at least 100 attempts, Tucker’s 6.2 yards per carry average was the best in the conference. He also posted five multi-touchdown games and four 100-yard games, including a school-record 263 yards versus Grambling State.
De’Shawn Waller, Alcorn State
The Atlanta native won STATS FCS All-America Third-Team accolades in his career in addition to HBCU All-America and All-SWAC selections. He was the 2018 SWAC Newcomer of the Year after tallying 1,215 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns that season. The 5-foot-11, 210 pounder rushed for 517 yards and four scores in 2019.
NEXT: Receivers and Tight Ends
Anthony McClean can be reached via email at email@example.com.