As we prepare for the 2013 football season, we’re taking a look at the best returning HBCU players at each position. Today, we check out the top receivers in the CIAA. Tomorrow, we will scout the MEAC.
Robert Holland, Chowan
With three All-CIAA season under his belt in three years, Holland started the 2012 season with high expectations. The 6’3 wide receiver from Newport News vindicated those expectations in the season-opener against Livingstone with 13 catches, 213 yards and three touchdowns in less than three quarters before being carted off the field. He would miss the rest of his senior season, but has been granted a medical redshirt. Needless to say, if Holland comes back at even 80 percent of his former self, Chowan will be a serious contender for the CIAA Northern Division title in 2013.
Watch: Holland’s junior season (2011) highlight reel.
//platform.twitter.com/widgets.jsTehvyn Brantley, Winston-Salem State
There are receivers on this list who had better stats than Brantley, but don’t let the stats fool you. This diminutive wideout is as talented as any receiver in the conference. Brantley led WSSU in receptions as a sophomore in 2011 but his numbers fell in 2012 after he reportedly toyed with the idea of transferring in the spring. Still, Brantley caught 28 balls for just under 400 yards and four touchdowns. With last seasons three leading receivers gone, Brantley will once again be a go-to-guy for an offense that will need them if they plan to make another playoff run.
Fred Scott, Johnson C. Smith
In just one season, Fred Scott has already established himself as a player to be reckoned with. Scott hauled in 47 catches, including six touchdowns, and averaged a solid 13 catches per game. The 5’7, 145 pound speedster is also a capable kick returner as well. Players like Scott and quarterback Keahn Wallace make Johnson C. Smith perhaps the biggest threat to Winston-Salem State’s attempt at a third consecutive CIAA Championship.
Derek Grant, Shaw
Grant enters his junior season as the leading returning receiver in the CIAA. The 6’3, 205 pound receiver led Shaw with 53 catches and 5 touchdowns, helping quarterback James Stallons break a school record for yardage. Stallons won’t be back in 2013, but Grant looked to have pretty good chemistry with projected starting quarterback Quinshon Odoms in the team’s spring game. Grant is a big physical target with size that most Division I cornerbacks would struggle to defend.
Ja’von Smallwood, Virginia State
If there was one thing Virginia State could take away from the 2012 season, the future definitely looks brighter than the past. Smallwood is a big reason why. The 6’2, 175 pound Virginia Beach product was one of five Trojans named to the All-CIAA rookie team in 2013. Smallwood finished with 40 catches and six touchdowns, averaging nearly 13 yards per catch. He will be a player to watch not only this season, but the next two as well.