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Stan Becton | | August 23, 2022

Top HBCU football players at every position entering 2022

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Before the 2022 HBCU football season begins on August 27, let’s take a look at the top FCS players at each position entering the year.

16 of the 21 FCS HBCU football programs are represented on this list that provides one player at every position, plus an honorable mention.

Without further ado...

Top HBCU football players at every position entering 2022

Quarterback — Shedeur Sanders | Jackson State

Shedeur Sanders took the FCS by storm in 2021, winning the Jerry Rice Award — the first HBCU player to win the award in its 11-year history. He threw for 2,971 yards, 28 touchdowns and only five interceptions, leading Jackson State to a SWAC title and its first Celebration Bowl berth in school history.

Honorable mention: Andrew Body | Texas Southern

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Running back — Gary Quarles | Alabama A&M

Gary Quarles may stand at just 5'6'', but he packs a punch. Quarles led the top HBCU offense's backfield rushing for 955 yards and 10 touchdowns on 205 carries. He led the SWAC in rushing yards per game and rushing touchdowns.

Additionally, Quarles is a dynamic threat out of the backfield as he added 21 receptions for 224 yards, totaling 1,179 all-purpose yards.

Honorable mention: J.J. Davis | Norfolk State

Wide receiver — Abdul-Fatai Ibrahim, Alabama A&M

Abdul-Fatai Ibrahim returns as Alabama A&M's only wide receiver with more than 20 catches from 2021's fourth-best passing offense. After leading the Bulldogs with 1,008 receiving yards, he'll be a top target for whoever takes over at quarterback in 2022.

Honorable mention: Shaq Davis | South Carolina State

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Tight end — Kemari Averett | Bethune-Cookman

Kemari Averett's burst on the scene in his first season at Bethune-Cookman, catching 52 passes for 888 yards and 10 touchdowns. In 2022, he returns as one of the best TEs in HBCU football and the FCS.

Honorable mention: Jyrin Johnson | Texas Southern

Offensive tackle — Mark Evans II | Arkansas-Pine Bluff

Mark Evans II has been a dominant anchor on the left side of Arkansas-Pine Bluff's offensive line, earning three-straight first-team All-SWAC honors. In 2021, he only gave up one sack.

Honorable mention: Tony Gray | Jackson State

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Offensive guard — Robert Lacey | Tennessee State

In 2021, Robert Lacey paved the way for Tennessee State's offense which gained over 1600 rushing yards. He's not only one of the best HBCU offensive guards but also one of the best in the OVC.

Honorable mention: Darius Fox | Howard

Center — Colby Byrd | Norfolk State

Colby Byrd led Norfolk State's offensive line in 2021, the best overall unit in the HBCU football last season. He was a three-time MEAC Offensive Lineman of the Week for the conference's leading scoring, total yardage and rushing offense.

Honorable mention: Dallas Black | Southern

🏆: HBCU football championship history

Interior defensive lineman — Jason Dumas | Southern

Jason Dumas will be rocking new threads in 2022 after transferring across the SWAC from Prairie View A&M to Southern, following head coach Eric Dooley. Dumas is a versatile defensive lineman that has shown the ability to play all over the defensive front.

However, when Dumas lines up inside he's a different beast; he's quicker than some guards and centers, but just as powerful at the point of attack. He notched 8.5 sacks and 17.5 tackles in 2021.

Honorable mention: Jalen Bell | Mississippi Valley State

Edge rusher — Isaiah Land | Florida A&M

Isaiah Land won the 2021 Buck Buchanan Award after leading the FCS in sacks (19) and tackles for loss (25.5). He returns to Florida A&M with a chance to become the second-ever back-to-back Buchanan Award winner in FCS history.

Honorable mention: Jeblonski Green | South Carolina State

AWARDS: Walter Payton Award history Buck Buchanan Award history |  Jerry Rice Award history 

Linebacker — Aubrey Miller | Jackson State

In 2021, Aubrey Miller led the SWAC with 109 tackles while adding 11.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks. He's one of the most consistent linebackers in the FCS and leads a Jackson State defense that's poised to again be one of the subdivision's best.

Honorable mention: Jacob Roberts | North Carolina A&T

Cornerback — BJ Bohler | Florida A&M

BJ Bohler is the top returning cornerback in HBCU football, coming off a season with four interceptions, 52 tackles, two pass breakups, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. With last year's two starting safeties gone from the secondary, expect Bohler to take on a larger role in 2022.

Honorable mention: Brandon Savage | Norfolk State

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Safety — Esaias Guthrie | Delaware State

Esaias Guthrie led the MEAC with four interceptions last year, adding 32 tackles (27 solo) en route to Freshman All-American honors. He was a key piece to Delaware State winning its most games in eight years. 

Honorable mention: Shilo Sanders | Jackson State

Kicker — Adrian Olivo | North Carolina Central

Adrian Olivo enters his third year at North Carolina Central after earning Freshman All-American honors in year one and making 11 of 12 field goals in year two. 

Honorable mention: Jose Romo-Martinez | Florida A&M

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Punter — Josh Sanchez | Arkansas-Pine Bluff

In 2021, Josh Sanchez landed 11 punts inside the 20-yard line to just three touchbacks. His field-flipping ability is phenomenal.

Honorable mention: Garrett Urban | Grambling State

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