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, we focused on cornerbacks. Up next, safeties.
Robert Cummings, Benedict College
The Macon, Ga. native led the Tigers with 52 solo-tackles, two interceptions, and was second on the team with 65 total tackles on the 2019 season, and was Benedict’s only SIAC All-Conference selection. In arguably his best collegiate performance, Cummings tallied 13 tackles and one interception in a 24-21 loss to Miles College in mid-October. The 6-foot, 185-pounder totaled 204 tackles and nine interceptions over his four years at Benedict College, including five of his seven career interceptions coming during his junior season.
Sterling Hammond, Virginia Union
A native of Caret, Va., Hammond was named the CIAA’s Defensive Back of the Year for 2019. The 6-foot-1, 210-pounder led the Panthers with 72 tackles, including a team-high 52 solo tackles. He also collected two sacks and picked off two interceptions — including one for a score against Johnson C. Smith — from VUU opponents.
Joshua Hill, Alabama State
The 5-foot-10, 198-pounder finished his ASU career playing in 43 games and tallying 188 tackles. He also finished with six interceptions (returning them for 119 yards) with 16 pass breakups. He recorded five tackles for loss, recovering two fumbles and causing three fumbles. The Prichard, Ala. native played at least 10 games in each of his four seasons, with his best coming in 2018 when he recorded 61 tackles and recorded a pair of interceptions.
Bobby Price, Norfolk State
A two-time All-MEAC selection from Virginia Beach, Va., Price’s 73 total tackles were third-most on the team. The 6-foot-4, 205-pounder also registered 2.5 tackles for loss, a team-high eight pass breakups, two fumble recoveries and one interception. That lone pick resulted in an 84-yard touchdown return at Delaware State, which earned him MEAC Defensive Player of the Week honors.
Nhyre’ Quinerly, Norfolk State
The Norfolk, Va. native ranked fifth in the MEAC with 103 tackles, which included three for lost yardage. Quinerly intercepted three passes and broke up five others, and he also forced one fumble. He ranked fifth in the MEAC in tackles, tied for seventh in interceptions and tied for 12th in passes defended. The 6-foot, 195-pounder, who started all 34 games in his NSU career, was also the MEAC’s Defensive Player of the Week after the Morgan State win.
Daryus Skinner, Winston-Salem State
One of the most decorated defensive players in the country, Skinner is a two-time All-CIAA selection and Division II All-American. The Rockingham, N.C. native finished the season ranked eighth in the nation with seven interceptions with a pass breakup in just 10 games. Skinner turned his interceptions into yards as well this season with 158 yards in interception returns. In addition to his great pass defense, the 5-foot-11, 175-pounder also finished the season with 39 total tackles (21 solo) and a forced fumble. The effort came just one season after leading the nation with 11 interceptions and 30 total tackles (15 solo). Skinner completed his WSSU career with 22 total interceptions to rank second in school history.
Tracy Thompkins, Mississippi Valley State
The Miami, Fla. native recorded 107 tackles, 12.5 tackles for a loss, three forced fumbles and pass breakups, two fumble recovery, one sack and an interception leading the Delta Devils defense in 2019. The 5-foot-9, 180-pounder (who also played linebacker) led the SWAC in tackles averaging 9.7 per game. In six games, he had double-digit tackles including a season-high 15 tackles at Lamar.
NEXT: Special Teams.
Anthony McClean can be reached via email at email@example.com.