The 2023 HBCU football season is swiftly approaching and — once again — it’s time for the HBCU Gameday Staff D2/NAIA poll.
We debuted our HBCU Gameday Staff FCS and Division II polls in 2022 and came up with some interesting results, providing ammunition for some and overrating others while a few fell exactly where we thought they would be. Here is where they will start.
1 — Virginia Union (66)
Virginia Union seemed like a lock for the CIAA crown through mid-October, but a late-season loss to Chowan had it on the outside looking in when the CIAA title game was played in Salem, VA. The good news for VUU is that Jada Byers is back on the scene, ready to carry the load as VUU looks to get its first CIAA title in over two decades.
2 — Benedict (60)
Benedict had a season to remember, completing a perfect regular season with its first-ever SIAC title. It will look to defend that crown this season, but will have to do so without quarterback Eric Phoenix.
3 — Fayetteville State (57)
After four consecutive CIAA championship game losses, Fayetteville State finally broke through for its first title under head coach Richard Hayes Jr. That success will be tested as several key players have jumped in the transfer portal.
4 — Bowie State (41)
Bowie State’s time on top of the CIAA came to an end last season, but the boys from Prince George’s County figure to be back in the hunt for the CIAA North title under Kyle Jackson.
5 — Albany State (40)
Two years removed from a SIAC title, Albany State finds itself under a new regime as Quinn Gray has taken over the program.
6 — Fort Valley State (38)
Last season first-year head coach Shawn Gibbs had his program in the thick of a tough SIAC East race. His star running back is gone to the NFL now, but Gibbs is a RB whisperer and knows how to keep a good thing going.
7 — Tuskegee (31)
The SIAC West Champs picked up steam as the year rolled on, but couldn’t get the job done in the title game. New head coach Aaron James will be looking to get his alma mater back to the top of the league.
8 — Virginia State (23)
Henry Frazier III’s squad went 6-5 despite his staff not getting complete until school started. The Trojans figure to have a say in the CIAA North this fall.
T9 — Bluefield State (6)
T9 — Shaw (6)
T9 — Lane (6)
Bluefield State is a promising program, but it will be joining the CIAA North. Shaw is looking to rebound after a disappointing 2022. Lane could be an SIAC darkhorse.