John Gibbs, Jr. , Alcorn State
There are several outstanding quarterbacks in the SWAC, but it would be hard for us to put anyone over Gibbs right now. The 6’6, 193 pound quarterback from Houston built on his solid sophomore campaign for a breakthrough 2014 season. A true dual-threat quarterback, Gibbs completed 58 percent of his passes for 21 touchdowns to just 7 interceptions while running for 1,006 yards and 11 touchdowns while being sacked just five times all season.
Gibbs was at his best in the SWAC Championship Game vs. Southern. He completed 20 of 30 passes for 245 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for 132 yards to help lift Alcorn to its first championship since the McNair era.
Needless to say, Gibbs has set the bar high for his senior season. In addition to trying to help his team repeat as SWAC Champs, he’ll also be looking to improve his pro prospects. He’s got the legs and the height to play at the next level, and with Jerry Lovelocke getting a UDFA deal with the Ravens, Gibbs may have a shot at hearing his name called in the 2016 NFL Draft if he can put on some weight and continue to progress.
LaMontiez Ivy, Jackson State
Last year was a year to forget for Jackson State, but Ivy was one of the few bright points. After missing all but one game as a redshirt freshman in 2013, Ivy showed a ton of potential in his first season as a starter. He threw for a conference-leading 3,209 yards, completing 64 percent of his passes and throwing 22 touchdowns and just 14 interceptions.
|(News Star photo)|
Jonathan Williams, Grambling State
Williams has entered each of his last two seasons as an afterthought at quarterback. Safe to say that after his 2014 performance, that won’t be the case this year. Williams led the SWAC in passing yards per game (227) and efficiency (146.2 rating) despite playing in just 9 games, helping Grambling become a factor in the SWAC once again after years of irrelevance. The Tampa native was also efficient with his legs, leading Grambling with 408 rushing yards and 8 touchdowns.
Williams saved his best for last, throwing for 450 yards and four touchdowns in a Bayou Classic that eclipsed the hype. Though Grambling came up on the short end of the stick and missed the SWAC Championship Game, Williams and his crew of receivers are sure to keep it in the thick of the championship and Celebration Bowl bids.
Austin Howard, Southern
This time last year, folks were wondering who would step up and fill the shoes of Dray Joseph. It took a couple of weeks, and it wasn’t always pretty, but by the end of the season Austin Howard replicated Joseph’s 2013 feat of winning the Bayou Classic and getting Southern into the SWAC Championship Game. Howard would be overmatched by Gibbs and Alcorn State, but overall, he was impressive for a freshman.
Howards’ 51 percent completion rate was a little low, even for a freshman, but he came up with twice as many touchdowns as interceptions (17 to 8) and rushed for four more. It looks like the Jags are in good hands for the near future.
|(Montgomery Advertiser photo)|
Daniel Duhart, Alabama State
Duhart entered last season looking poised for a big year. He’d had a solid first year as a starter in 2013, and with Isaiah Crowell gone, it looked like he’d get more of a chance to show his arm. His attempts increased by 32, but his touchdowns dropped from 18 to 8