Most Improved Players In HBCU Football

Deon King has 8.5 sacks in eight games. (Crowd Cam photo)

Deon King, Norfolk State

King played a solid season as a true freshman in 2012, recording 19 tackles as a backup linebacker and special teams ace. His playing time has increased as a sophomore and he has made a big impact for the Spartans. King is currently second in the FCS with 15.5 tackles and second in the MEAC with 8.5 sacks. He has also more than tripled his tackling numbers from last year, with 65 through eight games.

Andrew Carter, SC State

Like King, Carter had a solid 2012 campaign, putting up nine tackles for loss, including four sacks. This season his sacks have jumped to 8.5 through eight games while he is second to King in the MEAC with 14 tackles for loss.

Arnold Walker has doubled his 2012 rushing output through eight games. (HBCU Classics photo)

Arnold Walker, Alcorn State

Unlike King, Walker’s 2012 production wasn’t limited because of a lack of playing time. Walker led Alcorn State in rushing with 390 yards on 113 attempts in 2012, averaging a pedestrian 3.5 yards per carry. This season Walker looks like a different back, having already doubled his 2012 output with 865 yards through eight games. He’s also tripled his rushing touchdown output, going from four in 2012 to 12 in 2013.

Deandre Cooper has become the go-to-receiver for Prairie View. (Dallas News)

Deandre Cooper, Prairie View 

Cooper spent last year as the Panthers no. 2 receiver, a speedy decoy to steady Spencer Nelson. With Nelson gone, Cooper has shown that he can be a consistent target, as his catches have nearly doubled (from 34 to 64) and he has improved his touchdown numbers.

Petey Boone is flourishing as Elizabeth City State’s main back. (Daily Advance Photo)

Petey Boone, Elizabeth City State

Boone put up good numbers when given the ball last year, averaging over 5 yards per carry, but he was limited to just 46 carries as Daronte McNeil’s backup. This year, Boone has become Elizabeth City’s go-to-player this season, rushing for over 765 yards and 11 touchdowns in eight games.

Chris Ellerbe, Shaw 

Ellerbe had a quiet 2012 season, recording 27 tackles and no interceptions. Ellerbe’s 2013 season has been anything but quiet, as the diminutive defensive back has picked off seven passes in eight games, second only to teammate Darnell Evans in the CIAA.

Rudy Johnson has thrown 17 touchdowns and just two interceptions so far. (Garret Garms/WSSU photo)

Rudy Johnson, Winston-Salem State 

It’s not like Johnson had a bad year at Texas Southern in 2012. He completed more than 50 percent of his passes and threw for more touchdowns (9) that interceptions (8). And one would expect him to put up better numbers at the Division II level, but the jump in Johnson’s numbers is pretty impressive. In seven starts, Johnson has thrown for 17 touchdowns while throwing just two interceptions. He’s also rushed for over 300 yards and six touchdowns while leading the Rams to seven straight wins.

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