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 linebackers in the SWAC. Next up, the CIAA.
Xavier Lofton, UAPB
From the start of the 2012 season to the final whistle, Xavier Lofton made it his business to make plays. The 5’10, 205 linebacker totaled 107 tackles on the season, which included five games of double-digit tackles. He also finished with 10.5 tackles for loss, and two sacks. He played his best game when his team needed him the most, the SWAC Championship Game. Lofton was a one-man wrecking crew, totaling 14 tackles (13 solo and two for loss), picking up one sack and causing a game-altering fumble by Jackson State quarterback Clayton Moore. Yet, somehow, Lofton was left off both SWAC all-conference teams. Don’t expect that to happen again.
Jer-ryan Harris, UAPB
Harris wasn’t the most publicized member of UAPB’s star-studded defense, but he was an important part of the team’s SWAC Championship. The 6’1, 225 pound junior finished second on the team with 98 tackles, including nine in the championship game against Jackson State. He showed plenty of versatility as well, picking up eight tackles behind the line of scrimmage and breaking up six passes.
Jerome Howard, Prairie View A&M
Prairie View finished near the bottom in most defensive categories, but that isn’t Howard’s fault. The former Rivals’ Three-Star recruit blossomed in his sophomore season, finishing with 101 tackles, recording at least five in every game. He also added 12.5 tackles for loss, and two sacks, and was named Second Team All-SWAC.
Anthony Balancier, Southern
Like Howard, Balancier shined on a defense that was less than sparkling. He finished with 69 tackles and 4.5 sacks, three of which came in a win over Texas Southern in October. With talented playmakers on offense and a building block like Balancier, Southern has the look of a possible sleeper in the SWAC.
Chuck Obi, Prairie View