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 week, 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.
In our last piece, the focus was on defensive lineman. Today, it’s the linebackers.
Nigel Chavis, Norfolk State
The Richmond, Va. native earned All-MEAC honors for the third season in a row and first-team accolades for the second straight season. He finished his senior year with a career-high 107 total tackles, second-most in the conference. The 6-foot-2, 230-pounder also recorded 9.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, three pass breakups and four QB hurries. He reached at least 10 tackles in a game on eight occasions.
Marquis Hendrix, Bethune-Cookman
A two-time All-MEAC selection, the 6-foot-1, 230-pounder finished fourth in the MEAC with 96 tackles (8.7 per game) and was a Buck Buchanan Award finalist. In 2018, the Ocala, Fla native was second on team with 83 tackles in 12 games. Hendrix also posted a sack in each of final four games.
Rico Kennedy, Morgan State
The Fort Lauderdale, Fla. native finished the 2019 season ranked third in the conference in tackles with 105, averaging 8.8 per game, and he led the conference with 16.0 tackles for loss — 4.5 of which are sacks. He also added two interceptions, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery on the year. His 51.0 career TFLs are the most in Morgan State school history, just ahead of Jarrell Guyton (49.5; 2005-08). The 6-foot-3, 235-pounder also finished with 19.0 career sacks, which is fourth-place all-time at MSU behind Christopher Robinson (28.5; 2011-14), Willie Thompson (26.0; 1994-97) and Justin “JR” Lawrence (24.0; 2006-08).
Calvin Lunkins, Southern
The New Orleans native has been the heartbeat of the Jaguars defense the last two seasons. An All-SWAC selection in 2019, the 6-foot, 243-pounder led the team in tackles with 77, 5 QB hurries, 1.5 tackles for a loss of 27 yards and a pass break-up. Lunkins was also named to the 2019 Phil Steele’s FCS Postseason All-SWAC Team
Ian McBorrough, Morgan State
The Essex, Md. product finished the 2019 season by leading the MEAC with a career-high 110 total tackles and he also ranked T-11th in tackles for loss (10). He also had five fumble recoveries, three forced fumbles and two sacks. A 2019 All-MEAC selection, the 6-foot-2, 230-pounder finished his collegiate career with 252 total tackles, which ranks fifth-place all-time behind Elvis Franks (348; 1975-79), Albert Gamble (292; 2000-03), Cody Acker (272; 2011-14) and Rico Kennedy (262; 2016-19).
Solomon Muhammad, Alcorn State
The Birmingham, Ala. native earned a spot on the STATS FCS All-America team. He was both an All-America and an All-SWAC selection for the second year in a row. Muhammad wrapped-up 87 tackles to go along with a team-high 11 tackles for a loss, 3.0 sacks, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. The 6-foot-1, 235-pounder started in all 13 games at middle linebacker.
Durrell Nash, St. Augustine’s
One of the most decorated players in 2019, the Chicago native led the CIAA in total tackles (92) and tackles per game (10.2) in 2019. He finished the season ranked 18th nationally among Division II players in tackles per game. The 6-foot-2, 235-pounder was also selected for the D2CCA All-Super Region 2 First Team, the Don Hansen All-Super Region 2 First Team and was named BOXTOROW Honorable Mention All-American. Nash played in the FCS National Bowl, which featured prominent players from the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision, Division II and Division III levels and was a nominee for the Cliff Harris Award, given to the nation’s top small college defensive player.
Anthony McClean can be reached via email at email@example.com.