There have been rivalry games, classics and more over the first six weeks of HBCU football, with plenty of players leaving their mark early in the 2022 season. I looked back at player performances to open the year, and 10 stood out among the rest.
Here are the top 10 individual performances from the first half of the HBCU football season.
The first half of the season considers games played through Week 6. Performances are sorted by last name.
LB BJ Davis | South Carolina State
BJ Davis kicks off the list thanks to his performance in Week 2 against Bethune-Cookman. Davis finished with five tackles (two solo) and showed off his pass coverage ability with two interceptions and a pass breakup. Davis even returned one interception 59 yards for a touchdown in South Carolina State's 33-9 win.
In the battle btwn the MEAC & SWAC, the Bulldogs defense comes up with the 1st takeaway of the game against Bethune-Cookman. pic.twitter.com/LJ7koZDpdu— Andscape (@andscape) September 10, 2022
RB Donovan Eaglin | Alabama A&M
After Alabama A&M got off to an 0-4 start with plenty of offensive struggles, Donovan Eaglin gave the Bulldogs the offensive spark they needed. Against Bethune-Cookman, Eaglin ran for 190 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries, giving Alabama A&M an early 14-0 lead. Later in the game, Eaglin found the endzone again, this time through the air, catching a three-yard pass. Overall, Eaglin finished with over 200 yards of total offense and three touchdowns as Alabama A&M picked up its first win 35-7.
LB Nyles Gaddy | Jackson State
In Week 2, Jackson State faced a defensive slugfest against Tennessee State. Neither team scored a touchdown entering the second half. Although the offensive action wasn't pretty, Nyles Gaddy shined on defense. Gaddy finished with six tackles, four tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks and two quarterback hurries, limiting Tennessee State to 2.1 yards per play. Gaddy and the defense carried Jackson State to a 16-3 win.
RB Jarveon Howard | Alcorn State
Jarveon Howard arguably had one of the best performances in all of FCS football during the first half of the season when he ran for 299 yards (losing zero) and four touchdowns on 23 carries. Howard scored touchdowns of 78, 44, 24 and 11 yards. He also caught a pass for two yards in Alcorn State's 38-21 win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff to finish the game with over 300 total yards.
HBCU DIGITAL | #PLAYMAKERS Week 4 showcases Alcorn State Running back Jarveon Howard 23 CAR, 299 YDS, 4 TD against UAPB #ThisIsHome #HBCU @theSWAC @AlcornStateFB @BRAVESSPORTS @jarveon_howard pic.twitter.com/dpNw5SS2vZ— HBCU Digital Network (@HBCUDigital) October 1, 2022
QB Besean McCray | Southern
Besean McCray led Southern to a 45-13 win over SWAC West foe Prairie View A&M with a dominant day on the ground and through the air. As a passer, McCray completed 16-22 passes (73%) for 275 yards and two touchdowns with zero interceptions. As a runner, McCray gained 100 yards (netting 85) and scored two touchdowns.
Three of McCray's touchdowns came in the second half after Southern trailed Prairie View A&M 13-10 entering halftime. McCray led Southern to score 35 unanswered second-half points to walk away with a dominant 45-13 win.
WR Antoine Murray | Howard
When Howard and Morehouse played in the inaugural HBCU New York Football Classic, the score was tied entering halftime. The second half was a different story. Howard's offense exploded for 31 second-half points, and wide receiver Antoine Murray caught two touchdowns. Murray finished with eight catches for 116 yards, reminding everyone he's one of the MEAC's best wideouts as the Bison won 31-0.
QB Davius Richard | North Carolina Central
Davius Richard led North Carolina Central to a statement 45-27 win over New Hampshire. Richard threw for 194 yards and two touchdowns, but it was how he used his legs that stole the show. Richard ran for 140 yards and a touchdown in the upset win.
HBCU DIGITAL | #PLAYMAKERS Week 3 showcases North Carolina Central Quarterback Davius Richard 18/27, 194 YDS, 2 TD against New Hampshire #ThisIsHome #HBCU @MEACSports @NCCU_Football @NCCUAthletics @DaviusRichard pic.twitter.com/58csRevjij— HBCU Digital Network (@HBCUDigital) September 24, 2022
QB Shedeur Sanders | Jackson State
Shedeur Sanders earned multiple national accolades after his season-opening performance against Florida A&M. He opened the game by completing his first 17 passes of the game, throwing three touchdowns in the process. Sanders finished 29-33 passing (88 percent) for 323 yards and five touchdowns — a new school record — in Jackson State's 59-3 dominating win.
Shedeur Sanders with 5 of them thangs now!!!— Andscape (@andscape) September 4, 2022
Pray for your FAMU friends pic.twitter.com/1J7IXKNGSV
WR Xavier Smith | Florida A&M
Xavier Smith had a day against Alabama A&M, catching eight passes for 96 yards and three touchdowns in Florida A&M's 38-25 win. Smith scored all of his touchdowns after the Rattlers fell behind 19-7, becoming a go-to target in the comeback effort.
RB Bhayshul Tuten | North Carolina A&T
Bhayshul Tuten dominated in North Carolina A&T's 41-27 win over rival South Carolina State. Tuten ran for 140 yards (losing zero) and two touchdowns, adding two catches for 32 yards and a score. Tuten scored all three touchdowns in the first 32 minutes of the game as North Carolina A&T took the lead early and never looked back.