HBCU NFL rookies have done plenty to shine this season.
Former South Carolina State and current NFL rookie defensive back Decobie Durant is the latest. He did it this week on Christmas Day.
HBCU NFL Report: One for the Money
The 5-11, 180-pound corner for the Los Angeles Rams picked off two passes from Denver quarterbacks Sunday. He pilfiered a pass from starting quarterback Russell Wilson in the first quarter of the Rams’ 51-14 takedown of the Broncos.
See video of the first interception here.
HBCU NFL Report: Two for the Show
He returned the second interception 85 yards to paydirt. The fourth quarter pick wrapped up the Rams’ dominating win over the Broncos. It was the first pick six of the 24-year old’s young career. It came at the expense of Denver back-up QB Brett Rypien.
See video of Durant’s pick six here.
With Sunday’s performance, Durant now has three interceptions on the season, most on the team. He also has five pass breakups, one sack, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and 11 total tackles. He has played in 12 games.
The rookie standouts
Durant’s performance comes on the heels of Detroit rookie linebacker James Houston posting sacks in four consecutive games. The Jackson State product became the first NFL rookie to post sacks in his first four games since 2000.
Houston, picked by the Lions in the sixth round of this year’s draft, posted five sacks in his first four games on the field. This week’s game vs. Carolina was his first sack-less game.
Notably, Houston has five sacks in five games. Detroit’s first round pick in this year’s draft, Michigan product Adnan Hutchinson, has just a team-high seven sacks in 15 games.
Fayetteville State product Joshua Williams has been the most active of the rookies. He was the first HBCU player taken in this year’s draft, taken by Kansas City in the fourth round. He has played in 11 games and has 27 tackles and one interception.
HBCU NFL PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
For games of December 22 – 26, 2022
– #14 DECOBIE DURANT, DB, LA Rams (1st season, SOUTH CAROLINA STATE) – In 51-14 win over Denver, Durant had two interceptions, one he returned 85 yards for his first pick six, and the other he returned 15 yards. He also had one solo tackle while playing 51 (76%) of the defensive snaps and nine (35%) of the special teams snaps. Durant now has a team-best three interceptions in this his rookie season.
– #60 NICK LEVERETT, OL, Tampa Bay (2nd season, NORTH CAROLINA CENTRAL) – Started at left guard in Bucs 19-16 win over Arzona as the Bucs’ rushed for 115 yards and passed for 281 yards and one TD while giving up no sacks. Leverett also had one miscellaneous tackle. He was in on all 81 offensive plays (100%) and five (15%) plays on special teams.
– #12 KHADAREL HODGE, WR, Atlanta (5th season, PRAIRIE VIEW A&M) – In 17-9 loss to Baltimore, Hodge had one solo and one assisted special teams tackles. He was in on 14 (20%) of the offensive snaps and 14 (67%) of special teams’ snaps.
OTHER TOP HBCU NFL PERFORMANCES
– #72 TERRON ARMSTEAD, LT, Miami (10th season, ARKANSAS-PINE BLUFF) – In 26-20 loss to Green Bay, Armstead started at left tackle as the Dolphins rushed for 82 yards and one TD and passed for 310 yards and one TD while giving up two sacks for -16 yards. Armstead was in on all 50 (100%) of the offensive snaps.
– #78 TRENT SCOTT, OT, Pittsburgh (5th season, GRAMBLING STATE) – In 13-10 win over Las Vegas, Scott was in on one (1%) of the offensive plays. The Steelers rushed for 106 yards and passed for 244 yards and one TD while giving no sacks.
– #71 TYTUS HOWARD, OG, Houston (4th season, ALABAMA STATE) – Started at left guard in 19-14 win over Tennessee as Texans rushed for 70 yards and passed for 218 yards and one TD. Houston gave up just one sack for -3 yards. Howard was in only seven (10%) of the offensive plays before being injured.
– #97 JAVON HARGRAVE, DT, Philadelphia (7th season, SOUTH CAROLINA STATE) – Starting at defensive tackle in 40-34 loss to Dallas, Hargrave finished with one solo tackle. Hargrave was in on 55 (75%) of the defensive snaps and six (19%) of the snaps on special teams.
– #33 ANTONIO HAMILTON, DB, Arizona (7th season, SOUTH CAROLINA STATE) – Started at cornerback in 19-16 loss to Tampa Bay. He finished with four solo tackles and was in on all 81 defensive snaps and one snap (3%) on special teams.
– #36 DANNY JOHNSON, DB, Washington (5th season, SOUTHERN) – In 37-20 loss to San Francisco, Johnson had two total tackles, one solo and one assist. Johnson was in on 13 (25%) of the defensive snaps.
– #23 JOSHUA WILLIAMS, DB, Kansas City (1st season, FAYETTEVILLE STATE) – In 24-10 win over Seattle, Williams had two tackles, one solo and one assist, and one pass defemded. He was in on 20 plays (26%) on defense and 12 plays (50%) on special teams.
– #45 JOE THOMAS, LB, Chicago (5th season, SOUTH CAROLINA STATE) – Thomas started at linebacker in the Bears’ 35-13 loss to Buffalo. Thomas was second on the team with seven total tackles, six solos. He was in on 64 (100%) of the defensive snaps and five (20%) of the snaps on special teams.
– # 59 JAMES HOUSTON, OLB, Detroit (1st season, JACKSON STATE) – In 37-23 loss to Carolina, Houston had one solo tackle while playing 14 (21%) of the defensive snaps and 15 (52%) of the special teams’ snaps. It was his first game of five that he’s played in this season without a sack.
– #90 GROVER STEWART, DT, Indianapolis (6th season, ALBANY STATE) – In 20-3 loss to the LA Chargers, Stewart had five assisted tqckles. He played 49 plays on defense (72%) and six on special teams (33%).
– #41 MARKQUESE BELL, DB, Dallas (1st season, FLORIDA A&M) – In Cowboys 40-34 win over Philadelphia, Bell was not active.
– #47 DESHAUN DIXON, LB, Jacksonville (1st season, NORFOLK STATE) – Dixon was inactive in 19-3 win over the NY Jets.
– #7 JAMIE GILLAN, P, NY Giants (5th season, ARKANSAS-PINE BLUFF) – In 27-24 loss to Minnesota, Gillan punted three times for 129 yards (43.0-yard average, 30.5-yard net) with three downed inside the 20 and a long punt of 61 yards. He was in on eight (28%) of the special teams’ plays.