Over the past couple of years, HBCU football has provided the NFL dozens of solid NFL defenders. Players like Robert Mathis, Antoine Bethea and Dimitri Patterson are just a few names that have come from HBCU football to make an impact in the pros. A look at the the top of FCS and Divsion II stats show that trend should continue for the next few years, as HBCU players currently stand at or near the top in several defensive categories. Here are a couple of names to watch.
Andrew Carter, South Carolina State
South Carolina State entered 2013 hoping to rebound from a 5-6 record the previous season. The SC State defense has been phenomenal, and Carter is a big part of that success. The junior defensive end has 8.5 sacks in seven games, and SC State has already matched last season’s win total with five in seven games.
Deon King, Norfolk State
Coming into the season, King’s teammate Lynden Trail was the edge rusher every one feared from Norfolk State. All the attention paid to Trail has resulted in a big year for the sophomore linebacker. Through six games, King has 7.5 sacks, including three against Savannah State.
Darnell Evans, Shaw University
Through the season’s first half, no defensive back is playing better at his level than Evans. Evans plays in the CIAA, which traditionally isn’t even a Division II powerhouse, but seven interceptions in six games is pretty darn good. He also leads Division II with 147 yards off interception returns and averages over 28 yards per kick return.
Mike Jones, NC Central
Jones has been one of the top freshmen at the FCS level, picking off four passes in his first four games for North Carolina Central. He was named as a candidate for the Jerry Rice Award last week, an award given to the top freshman in FCS football.
Daniel Fitzpatrick and David Van Dyke, Tennessee State
Steven Goldbolt III grabbed most of the headlines for Tennessee State in the preseason, and teams have taken note, largely avoiding throwing his direction. As a result, Fitzpatrick and Van Dyke are both tied for the national interception lead with four picks each.
Chaz Robinson, St. Augustine’s
Robinson started the season with a career-high 19 tackles against NC Central and hasn’t slowed down much since then. The senior linebacker ranks fourth in Division II with 80 tackles through six games.
Jovontay Williams, Johnson C. Smith
This junior defensive lineman from Stone Mountain, GA has spent most of his season in his opponents backfields. Williams has recorded 8.5 sacks in six games, including 7.5 in his first three games. Overall, 20 of his 22 tackles have gone for a loss.
Lawrence Barnett, Alabama A&M
Alabama A&M has struggled this season, but that record is not a reflection of Barnett's play. The senior has picked off four passes this season, helping Alabama State hold opposing defenses to 165 yards passing per game.
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