Starting Five (Plus One): Sack Artists Populate CIAA Defensive Lines

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 defensive linemen in the CIAA.

T. J. Batchelor, Chowan

Simply put, Batchelor was a one-man-quarterback-wrecking crew for Chowan last season. He registered at least half a sack in all but two games in 2012, finishing third in the conference with 12.5 sacks, and 20.5 total tackles for loss. But he was far from a one-dimensional player as he compiled 77 total tackles and forced four fumbles.

Donnie Owens, Winston-Salem State

Playing on a team full of elite talent, Donnie Owens often got lost in the shuffle. The Coastal Carolina transfer was a solid player all season, playing a big part in WSSU’s run stuffing defense. As the post season began, however,  Owens emerged as a pass rushing force, compiling five sacks in WSSU’s final five games, including one in the National Championship against Valdosta State. With the loss of fellow all-conference performer Barry Tripp on the defensive line, Owens will be counted on for leadership in his senior season.

Javarous Faulk, St. Augustine’s University

Faulk heads into the 2013 season as the sack leader among returning players after putting up an impressive 13 during the 2012 season. Like Batchelor, Faulk recorded at least half a sack in eight of the ten games he played in for St. Augustine’s. The bad news for opposing quarterbacks is that Faulk has another year of eligibility remaining after 2013.

Oladimeji Layeni, Bowie State

Layeni didn’t have the eye-popping sack numbers of the other players on this list, but he is one of the more consistent linemen in the conference. His coming out party was unquestionably last season’s matchup against Chowan, when he recorded ten tackles, three sacks and one forced fumble in a 35-31 win.

Evan Strange, Shaw

Strange may not have made the all-conference team in 2012 like the players above him on this list, but that could change after this season. Strange had a solid sophomore season, recording 42 total tackles, nine of which went for a loss. He also finished with 8 sacks, making him a threat against both the run and the pass.

Bryant Frazier, Virginia State

It took Frazier a while to heat up last season, but by the end of the season he was one of Virginia State’s best players. The 6’1, 255 pound defensive tackle recorded six sacks in 2012, all of which came in the season’s final five games. With Alex Greggs gone, Frazier will be the man on the front line for the Trojans.

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