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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.