Freshmen Making An Impact On HBCU Football

Michael Jones has been one of the best freshman in all of FCS football. (Herald-Sun photo)

A lot has been said recently about the drop-off in talent of players at HBCUs. And while there’s no doubt that HBCUs aren’t overflowing with blue-chip talent from the high school ranks, there are a few first-year players that have made quite an impact over the first month of the college football season. Here are a couple of the standouts:

Michael Jones, North Carolina Central

For the second season in a row, North Carolina Central has managed to find a talented defensive back from Maryland. Last season, it was Ryan Smith, who picked off five passes as a redshirt freshman. This year, it’s Jones. The 5’9, 160 pound freshman from Baltimore has picked off four passes in his first four games, including two against UNC-Charlotte. 

“He’s been in the right place and has great technique,” interim head coach Dwayne Foster told ESPN. “He has great quickness and great instincts. He’ll come up and tackle you as well. He’s got some confidence. We want him to continue to get better. We’re excited about his play. He’s got a huge, huge upside.”

Kourtney Berry ranks third in the SWAC in both tackles and sacks. (Montgomery Advertiser)

Kourtney Berry, Alabama State

// Before injuries and spotty academics hindered the second half of his high school career, Kourtney Berry was considered a solid FBS-level recruit. Berry has quickly found a home at Alabama State, and is already one of the best defenders in the conference. The linebacker ranks third overall in tackles (49) and sacks (3).

Javancy Jones, Jackson State 

Entering the season, many questioned how Jackson State would take on the role of pass rusher that Joesph LeBeau played last season. Jones has played like a grown man through his first month of college ball. The defensive end has 26 tackles and 3.5 in five games, helping Jackson State start out 3-0 against SWAC competition.


Willie Quinn has proved to be another weapon for Dray Joseph and Southern’s passing game. (Advocate photo)

Willie Quinn, Southern

Southern was expected to have an impact freshman at receiver, it just wasn’t supposed to be Willie Quinn. Quinn is technically a sophomore, but he was ineligible to play during his freshman season. The 5’6, 170 lb Miami native has 24 catches and three touchdowns in SU’s first five games, giving the Jaguars a nice second option behind Lee Doss.

Shaquille Edwards, Virginia State

Virginia State is off to a hot start, and defense has been a big part of the reason for that success. Edwards has stepped up big time, recording 21 tackles (including 9 for loss) and 3 sacks in four games.

Chase Powell is currently Winston-Salem State’s leading receiver. (WS Journal photo)

Chase Powell, Winston-Salem State

With the Rams missing their top three receivers from last year, someone was going to have to step up. Powell was inserted to the starting lineup in Week One and has been solid ever since. The true freshman from Upper Marlboro, MD is currently WSSU’s leading receiver with 21 catches, and is coming off a 5 catch, 134 yard performance against Virginia Union.

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