HBCU Football Class rankings 2015(SWAC/MEAC)

February 4th was the day many talented football players decided where they would spend the next four years of their young football careers. College signing day has become a tradition for decades now. While some players are highly touted out of high school, some players fly under the radar with one star and sometimes not any stars and still impress. All 22 starters in Super Bowl XLVIIII were not five star recruits.

While the “highly touted” players are shown on ESPNU choosing a hat for the BIG schools, there are some players at their local high school signing letters of intent to go to historically black colleges to play football. Here are the top ten classes of 2015 recruiting Southwestern Athletic Conference(SWAC) and Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC). Only schools from these conferences were selected since these are the only two HBCU divisions that are considered in D1-AA.

10) Howard University: 5-7(3-5)

After their disappointing season the Bison were hoping that their strong twelve they’ve signed would be able to contribute immediately and make a huge impact.

Key recruits

Dexter Brown (DL 6’2’ 325 lbs.) Chesterfield, Virginia:

Brown is a strong lineman (squat max 525 lbs. bench max 325 lbs.) who has a lot of potential to actually become a great lineman if he works hard under Gary Harrell.

Jason Collins (QB 6’0 169 lbs.) Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Collins is a dual threat quarterback with raw potential as well, though Collins is small for the quarterback position his legs keep him competing at a high level.

The recruiting class for the Bison’s might be their new stepping stone if the players are willing to work hard and if you are playing Gary Harrell you will play hard.

  9) Jackson State: 5-7(3-6)

Jackson State’s local recruiting angle was taken seriously ever since last January. “We’re not going to go outside Mississippi until we saturate Jackson and the outer areas.” After watching their quarterbacks take 39 sacks (not including tackles for loss), the Tigers found multiple offensive lineman that satisfied their needs.

Key Recruits

Brandon McCoy (NG 6’6’ 340 lbs.) Memphis, Tennessee

McCoy is a great guard that loves to get after the ball. Has great footwork for a big man and has unimaginable speed for his size, when looking at his high school tape. If he can keep improving at Jackson State, he will make a team very happy.

With a lot of players already on campus, the Tigers are really excited to see how spring practice will play out and see which one of these commits will impact immediately! The Jaguars squeezed into the top ten due to their glaring needs seemed to be filled, while getting some players that have a lot of raw potential.

8) Morgan State 7-6 (6-2)

The Morgan State Bears are coming off a playoff year and had a great recruiting class this year, due to their balanced and productive signees. They recruited bigger players this year, with the recruiting class with an average height of 6’2

Key recruits

Kirby Linscomb IV (WR 6’5 215 lbs.) Houston, Texas

A transfer from San Jose City College is the highlight of the early enrollees, he is Projected to contribute immediately, Linscomb is a great athlete who has great hands and will go up and get the ball with ease. He has a swagger to him when he plays, like a young Dez Bryant.

Jai Franklin (DL 6’3 285 lbs.) Upper Marlboro, Maryland

A transfer from ODU, Franklin was a two star recruit out of high school whose experience should be able to help the young defensive line. He has great size, great athleticism, and has three years of eligibility left.

Size and Speed are the highlights of Morgan State’s recruiting class, it will be interesting to see the Bears balance out their transfers into their system, but the size and potential of the class has place Morgan State in the top ten.

7) North Carolina Central 7-5 (6-2)

Last year head coach Jerry Mack had less than two months to find his perfect recruiting class on national signing day. “This year we had a full spring and fall for recruiting, so we were able to address our needs,” Mack said. Mack has rebuilt his offensive line. The average size of all five offensive lineman average size is 6’4 281 lbs.

Key recruits

Cyrus Stanback (DT 6’2 295 lbs) Rockingham, North Carolina

Cyrus Stanback might be the most underrated player going to North Carolina central next year. He is the dark horse in this big and strong recruiting class. Stanback has incredible speed and agility off the line. He also knows how to easily track down smaller players and uses his agility to keep track of his target so he can strike.

Glen Calvin (TE 6’6 205 lbs) Indianapolis, Indiana

The dark horse on the offensive side of recruiting for the Eagles this year may very well be Glen Calvin. Calvin has incredible size and strength. To be a more bulky tight end he has incredible hands and he loves to go up and bring the ball down over the defender.

8 of 15 players recruited to come to Durham this fall are from North Carolina. “We believe that there is great talent in the state and we continue to build strong relationships in the state,” Mack said. We will see this revamped offensive line for the first time against Saint Augustine’s September 5th, 2015.

6) Southern University 9-3 (8-1)

Southern had an impressive defensive recruiting class, 16 and counting. Southern will not have spring practice, so it will be interesting to see how the team is able to adapt. Southern was able to actually get the second best steal between these ten teams in Brad Porter.

Key Recruits

Brad Porter (DE 6’5 235 lbs.) New Orleans, Louisiana

Brad Porter is an animal and is an incredible pick up for Southern! His senior year he recorded 72 tackles, 25 sacks, and 28 tackles for a loss He has a great mix of agility, speed, and strength.

Elijah Allen (DB 6’1 175 lbs.) Denton, Texas

Allen is a raw talent at defensive back, he loves to hit and track down receivers and quarterbacks. He keeps an eye on the ball just as well as the receiver! With growth and strength at the collegiate level Allen could become a great player.   

5) Norfolk State University 4-8 (4-4)

The Spartans recruiting class showed incredible balance, while they recruited six players on offense and six on defense. “Our main goal and objective was to address the needs of the program,” said Norfolk State coach Cartell Scott.

Key Recruits

Marcus Taylor (ATH 5’8 160 lbs.) Highland Springs, Virginia

A two star recruit from ESPN and also an all-conference Kick returner. He had a total of 20 touchdowns his senior year (10 rushing, four receiving, and six kick/ punt returns.) Cartell Scott said “(Taylor) the fastest player in the state. Will contribute right away.”

Gerard Johnson (RB 5’9 195 lbs.) ODU Transfer

Second string sophomore a transfer from ODU with two years of eligibility left; Johnson’s two years at ODU resulted in him rushing for 865 yards and six touchdowns and amassed 1,135 all-purpose yards.

The Spartans had a great recruiting class due to their balanced recruiting. Scott has found a great mix of strength and speed and that has put them at number five this year/

4) Florida A&M University 3-9(3-5)

After a disappointing season head coach Alex Wood said “We addressed our glaring needs,” during the first recruiting class for the seventeenth coach in Wood.

Key Recruits

Tyler Woodley (CB 5’10 168 lbs.) Powder Springs, Georgia

A two star recruit by ESPN who plays with a huge chip on his shoulder as he plays with less size than most wide receivers and cornerbacks. Darrelle Revis might be the best comparison if you had to visualize how Woodley plays the game. He has a great mix of physicality and finesse, A&M got a great talent in Woodley. As he should contribute immediately for Alex Wood and the Rattlers.

Ryan Stanley (QB 6’3 190lbs.)Permbroke Pines, Florida

Stanley is an incredible talent from Florida! Stanley has a strong arm but makes plays with his legs as Stanley has shown he has incredible footwork and speed with a 4.62 40 yard dash time. He has a strong arm with incredible accuracy. His senior season he threw for 3,341 yards and 40 touchdowns. He only threw six interceptions and rushed for 412 yards and scored ten touchdowns!

FAMU season was very disappointing last year but as a Rattler’s fan you can only be excited as the recruiting class is fast and talented. The glaring needs have been addressed through this recruiting class and now the team has spring practice and should make a lot of progression in the 2015-2016 season.

3) Grambling State 7-5 (7-2)

SWAC coach of the year Broderick Fobbs recruited size and strength. He recruited five linebackers this year. There are three seniors and one junior on the team this upcoming season, as Fobbs understood one year of guidance for these talented linebackers would be more than enough. They also recruited two quarterbacks who have great potential and could fight for the starting spot!

Key Recruits

Jamie King (QB 6’3 210 lbs.) Azle, Texas

Two sport standout with great mobility in and outside the pocket. At 6’3 King is a dominant force with great speed (4.6 40 yard dash). He has the talent to become a true freshman starter if given the opportunity.

Tre’von Cherry (QB 5’11 180 lbs.) Tulsa, Oklahoma

Not as highly touted as King, Cherry is a Ruseel Wilson like quarterback. He creates passes as he buys time in the pocket for his receivers and has good but not great accuracy. When given time to develop Cherry could be a better player than King but it will take a lot of hard work!

Percy Cargo (LB 6’1 200 lbs.) Donaldsonville, Louisiana  

Talented linebacker from Louisiana that has great stamina but loves to hit, with determination like Cam Chancelor and the hunger that Cargo plays with he will do fine at Grambling. “Coming from Donaldsville it’s an incredible achievement… I know a lot of guys who come from here and don’t get a chance to play ball at the next level,” Cargo said.

Grambling can have an even better season next year and fans of the Tigers should be interested in seeing what has to happen with Linebackers and Quarterbacks as well. There is a lot of talent between those two positions there will be great competition during spring practice.

2) Bethune-Cookman 9-3(6-2)

Bethune- Cookman had an incredible season and seem to have no intentions of changing that, after their recruiting class has a great mix of talent on both sides of the ball. Over the last couple of years Bethune-Cookman has made sure they recruited in-state. Where some of the best football talent has come from over the last decade or so.

Key Recruits

Cedric Miller (RB 5’10 185 lbs.) Miami, Florida

The four star recruit rated by ESPN and the best player recruited and signed by an HBCU has incredible speed. Miller reads his blocks very well, he reminds of the perfect mix of Ricky Williams and Ladanian Thomilson. Miller will have an immediate impact on Bethune-Cookman and could get multiple reps by the time season is here.

Jamal Thomas (DT 6’3 285 lbs.) Sharpsburg, Georgia

Jamal Thomas could be a new breed of defensive tackle that the NFL is starting to love, a JJ Watt. He is a little bigger than Thomas at 6’5 but Jamal uses his speed to get around offensive tackles and has great footwork as a lineman. The reason we say Thomas has similarities, is because he has some great hands to be a defensive tackle. His highlight tape shows him intercepting multiple passes at the line of scrimmage and actually picking up a couple of yards!

Bethune-Cookman might have struck gold with their recruiting class, as they have found two freshman leaders that can build on their talent and keep them at the top as well.

1) Alcorn State 9-3(7-2)

The defending champions of the SWAC didn’t only recruit this year, but they struck gold! 27 recruits! Coach Jay Hopson is expecting all of the signees to contribute right away. As surreal as it sounds to hear that 27 recruits are supposed to all contribute does seem far fetched it could happen! The recruits that are coming in are very talented and there are a lot of them! They recruited an incredible athlete from Miami in Deundre Pickett-White.

Darrell Henderson jr. (DT 6’1 315 lbs.) Jacksonville, Florida

Henderson was a BEAST in High School, he has great hands and loves to intercept the ball at the line of scrimmage. He knows how to explode through offensive tackles and he gets in the backfield often as he has an incredible arsenal of moves to maneuver around offensive tackles throughout the game.

Mahlon Robinson (DB 5’11 185 lbs.) Macon, Mississippi  

Robinson is another great defensive talent that Alcorn State has coming in this year. Robinson is not afraid to hit and has incredible speed. He loves playing kick returner and is a touchdown waiting to happen when back there!

Alcorn State deserves the number one spot due to the size of their recruiting class and the talent that it’s bringing in. They have recruited not only to make sure their needs were met but also to make sure the team had enough versatility this year.

-Cameron Carter

Kemba Walker’s Incredible Quiet Year

kemba over kyle

26 seconds tick away as Kyle Lowry leads a comeback against Kemba Walker and the short-handed Charlotte Hornets team with 10 active players for the night. Kemba Walker stands one on one with James Johnson alone up five, what do you do? Well if you’re Kemba Walker you crossover and step back to create separation and you show that you have ice in your veins and pull up to push the lead to six!

This game winning thing for Kemba Walker has become a usual thing, just the night before on January seventh he cashed the game winner with 1.4 seconds left in the game. Cardiac Kemba is becoming a name that the New York native is very comfortable with. “I just tried to make a play”, this seems to be the generic quote on a nightly basis from Walker as he continues to hit game winners.

Not only has Kemba Walker become “Mr BIG SHOT” but he also has shown he can be a complete guard by his rate of efficiency. Walker’s Player Efficiency Rating(PER) is 19.49, which is ninth in the NBA among guards and fourth in the Eastern Conference. Scoring 19 points per game, while dishing six assists out a game, and also leads the turnover ratio among guards at 6.3 turnovers a game. Kemba has shown he has grown not only as a player in the NBA, but also as an adult.

Kemba’s points per game has rose to 20 points this season on zero days of rest. That’s a three point improvement from last season. Following Kemba throughout his career you can tell he is in better shape and sounds as efficient as ever. Walker has also become known as the crossover artist of the NBA. Victims of Walker’s crossover have been Chris Paul, Elfrid Payton, and the sickest crossover of the year on Nikola Mirotic 

He has become more than just a typical scorer, he has shown that he is not afraid of being the hero. During the 2014-2015 season there are four players tied with three 30 point games consecutively. LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Russel Westbrook, and Kemba Walker. As the season progresses without Kemba the Hornets will not make the playoffs, but if Kemba keeps up this level of play for the rest of the year the Hornets might find themselves as far as the second round of the NBA Playoffs.

-Cameron Carter

Damian Lillard being the 13th man left off Team USA is only the beginning of endless opportunities

dameeee
Before we go any further, as a Blazers fan it would have been great to see Dame play for Team USA, we could compare the statistical differences between Lillard and Irving, we also could make an argument about the dependability of Rose health and his consistency. We can’t help as fans to draw comparisons between players from different positions and Lillard, due to his break out year during the 2013-2014 season. We could argue all day from both viewpoints, but that would not change decision made to leave Portland’s point guard of the future off the Team USA roster.

Rip City fans don’t forget even though Dame was the 13th man left off the 12 man roster which hurts even more, Rudy Gay and Kyle Kover will not sky rocket into stardom since they’re headed to Spain.Let’s be honest the 24 year old point guard will have many more chances to represent this country(2016 Olympics, 2018 FIBA, etc.). Let’s be honest Dame playing in this event and leading the team in scoring hypothetically what would he receive? Patriotic honor? A medal and a boost in his bank account? What Lillard does for his team when the NBA season starts means a lot more than this event in Spain.

Will Damian playing for Team USA help his team get deeper into the Western Conference playoffs, and eventually help them achieve the big goal, an NBA championship? Ask any Oklahoma City fan if they would rather let a fatigue Kevin Durant play overseas or would you rather him rest up and be ready to go for the NBA season?” Real fans will not be able to say “yes” without a smirk or a snicker.

The future is bright for the Webber State alum, don’t rush him into NBA stardom. If anything as a Trail Blazer fan being the 13th man on the 12 man roster will only make Damian more hungry to show Coach K and staff what they missed out on during the NBA season!

-Cameron Carter

Walt Aikens Perseverance speaks volumes as he reaches the NFL

Dolphins_Walt_Aikens_2014

I asked the talented defensive back and one of the newest member of the Miami Dolphins how he would explain the position he was in currently. He said “God has put me in a great position”. The Liberty Alumni explained to me that he is not only put in this position to become an NFL legend, but he understands with his great communication skills mixed with his talent on the field can help him reach out to children in a way very few can and will.

Walt Aikens graduated from Harding University High School where he was “The Man” on campus. He was never suspended and was a tri-athlete. He won state championships in track, became one of the best dunkers in the state, and of course one of the best football talents out of Charlotte in the last 20 years. Aikens was awarded the Old Spice Player of The Year in North Carolina and also All-Queen City Offensive player of the year. He received offers in all three sports but he explained that he was more passionate about football. As he committed to take his talents to the fighting Illini in Champagne, Illinois over Clemson and Louisville he was ready to live up to the hype. As a true freshman Walt started in five games at safety and also won Freshman All-Big Ten honors. Walt was able to excel as a freshman because of the confidence he acquired throughout his high school career. Walt began to hear the NFL talk throughout his freshman year. The deeper he got into his career the talk became more prevalent.

During the off-season of his freshman year, for the first time in his life Walt was in the middle of trouble over a laptop that he did not own, whom he borrowed from a friend. The situation had become so messy and taken out of context that Walt Aikens was kicked off the football team at Illinois. He knew that his parents had instilled Core Values in him and even though he disappointed them, they were ready to accept him for the mistake he made and help him get back on the right path. Aikens decided to go to Liberty over Tennessee due to him not wanting to sit out a year. He eventually had to sit out a year due to NCAA sanctions, but Walt throughout 2010 practiced with the practice team so he could keep getting better. In 2011 Aikens played for the Liberty Flames and led the Big South in forced fumbles. He felt like “he had something to prove”. Even though Walt had to deal with all the critics, he felt Liberty gave him a clean slate and a fresh start.

Walt Aikens finished at Liberty with an impressive year and had the confidence to finally reach for his dream and become an NFL player. Aikens was not invited to the NFL combine, he said this did not discourage him it only made him hungrier for his success. There were 26 pro teams at Liberty’s pro day, he explained to me during the interview “If I could not go to the combine, I would just bring the combine to me”. He proved to be a great talent for the NFL as the Miami Dolphins selected him 125th overall in the 4th round.

I asked Walt his opinion on critics when he reads scouting reports on himself and they explain that he has trouble with his foot speed or lacks to diagnose run-pass reads, he explains that negativity from critics is motivation. Adaption has been key for Walt, as he has had to adapt multiple times from Illinois to Virginia and now to Miami. Practicing and living in Miami is a plus while living out your all time dream is sweet taste after all the up’s and downs he has been through.

With two Harding alumni in the NFL currently ( W.Aikens and James McCray) this shows the community that if you work hard enough for your dream and you have the drive, you can be successful! Walt would also like to remind high school football players who are deciding on a school to play collegiate football, find a system that fits you. It is not always about going to the biggest and best school. Which brings me to Walt’s next point, go somewhere where you will thrive and succeed!

-Cameron Carter

Lebron Gives us the Fairy tale Ending we all were rooting for

Can you imagine the disappointment as a sports fan, to know that your hometown hero, the “Chosen One” left to go to another team, to win a championship. Not 1, Not 2 , Not 3, Not 4, But 8 titles! During this pep rally this did not sound like a man that regretted leaving and did not sound like he had any intentions of coming back!

As a Cavalier’s fan the man you once decided to give your heart too stepped on it in less than 30 second, by saying he would be “taking his talents to South Beach“. Cleveland fans had two decisions, trade their white jerseys that read “James” and the number 23 out for a black jersey that read on the back “James” and the number 6, or you could resent James for the rest of their sports-loving lives. ESPN did not show the bandwagon fans, they only showed these angry fans that showed their hate for James in tweets, Facebook post, a strongly worded letter from Cleveland’s owner Dan Gilbert, and the infamous burning of jerseys.

December 2nd,2010 is known as one of the most monumental days in the career of LeBron James. His first game back in Cleveland, the whole day ESPN showed multiple citizens from Cleveland that were recorded that had multiple hurtful words about James; “Coward” and “Traitor” were common words heard among these fans. One man told one of the local news stations, James is “The most hated man in Cleveland”… that probably was the truth. “7 great years” ruined by a “30 second” decision. The heckling began for LeBron James when he stepped onto the court at 7:25 p.m. until the final buzzer sounded. December 5th showed LeBron how much he really hurt these fans, but being the professional he is, he led his team with 38 points and 8 assists. On this night, the healing process for Cleveland and the Akron native on began, slowly but surely. Reggie Miller said it best when he said “Cleveland Grow up“; Cleveland continued to struggle the 2010-2011 season, so were the Miami Heat. The Miami Heat’s big 3 help them stay afloat though, they were able to clinch a playoff berth. They made it through the Eastern Conference Finals and then they ran into a Mavericks team that was not honestly better, they just played better as a team. Lebron tasted his second dose of defeat in the finals. The fans of Cleveland rejoiced and some would say were happier than Maverick’s fans.

But the next two years, LeBron became a man! Lebron won 2 straight MVP’s, 2 finals MVP’s,and of course 2 championship titles! You saw a different breed of LeBron fans developing, the same fans who heckled him for being a traitor were starting to root for him and asking him to return to Cleveland. March 20th, 2013 LeBron returned to Cleveland for another game, with a little over 8 minutes left in the game, a Cleveland fan ran on the court that read 2014 free agency, telling LeBron to come home. Its ironic how big of a difference two championships can make in the mind of a heckling fan!

2014 comes around and Cleveland fans can’t help but be optimistic, James had one of the best seasons of his career(Not better than Kevin Durant, according to the MVP votes) he played well and advanced to the NBA Finals with the same Big 3 but with a different supporting cast. The Spurs were seeking revenge from a year ago and they achieved their goal, by dismantling the Heat in five games!

Then there was the decision if LeBron would opt into the final 2 years of his contract, or would he opt-out for Free Agency. On June 24,2014 James became a free agent. Then the NBA went into the frenzy. He had matured from 2010 and you could tell by the way he handled his decision process. June 25th James left and took his family on vacation while agent Rich Paul met with all teams interested and would return to tell LeBron what was said. The best part about the process is that Lebron did everything on his own terms. He made Pat Riley travel to Vegas to meet with him. He went to play basketball at his camp with the top high school prospects in the country. Then he traveled back to his Miami home.

On July 11th nobody knew when to expect LeBron’s decision because there was no timetable according to Rich Paul, but early Friday afternoon Sports Illustrated reported that LeBron James would be Going Back Home.

Giving Northeastern Ohio what they wanted all along, for their King to come back to his Kingdom.

-Cameron Carter

KEEN VIBES FASHION TIP OF THE WEEK

Women:

Hats can help a woman’s persona at the same time it can also hurt it. Today’s tip from Keen Vibes is simple, as a young lady you make the hat! But there are a few rules as a woman you should know about hats.

Rule #1: Don’t wear matchy-matchy looks. 

How to Wear a Hat

As a woman I know how tempting it is to wear a hat that looks exactly like your shirt. But you have to realize at the age of 11, this style starts to look very immature and takes away from your persona as you progress into becoing a grown woman.

Rule #2: Wear Hats with prints on them.

The printed hat can make a simple outfit POP. Try out a stussy hats for example and see how it goes. It can make solid color clothes seem more so a hot commodity, you will not regret the results.

Rule #3: Don’t try to Save an ugly outfit with a Hat.

How to Wear a Hat

As a young lady when you wear a hat with an outfit it should complete the outfit, not make it. Don’t try to cover up a fashion  mistake with a even worst fashion mistake, by wearing a very fashionable hat.

-Cameron Carter