Black College Football HOF Announces 2017 Player of the Year Award Watch List

Courtesy of the Black College Football Hall of Fame
Full Release Here

At a glance:

  • Award to be presented to the most outstanding college football player from a Historically Black College & University (HBCU).
  • Watch List is composed of 50 players from 27 different Historically Black Colleges & Universities.
  • Players per Conference: MEAC (15), SWAC (15), SIAC (10), CIAA (8) and Independent (2).

Atlanta, GA (August 16, 2017) – The Black College Football Hall of Fame (BCFHOF) announced today the 2017 Watch List for the Black College Football Player of the Year Award. The Award is presented annually to the most outstanding football player from a Historically Black College & University. Former North Carolina A&T, and current Chicago Bears running back Tarik Cohen was selected as the inaugural recipient of the Award in 2016.

The winner of the 2017 Black College Football Player of the Year Award will be honored with the Deacon Jones Trophy during the Black College Football Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, which takes place on February 10, 2018 in Atlanta. Four finalists will be unveiled on December 12.

“This is a way to recognize the tremendous talent in HBCU football today,” said Super Bowl MVP quarterback Doug Williams, a BCFHOF co-founder and 2011 inductee. “Through this Award, the Black College Football Hall of Fame is proud to showcase outstanding student-athletes.”

“The Deacon Jones Trophy has become the most prestigious football award for HBCUs,” said BCFHOF co-founder and 2012 inductee James Harris. “Deacon Jones was a pioneer and an icon, and still to this day represents the very best of Black College Football.”

The Watch List candidates have been selected based on past performance and future potential. Additions to the list may be made as the 2017 season progresses. The finalists and the winner will be chosen by a Selection Committee.

First Name Last Name School Position Class
Keontre Anderson Jackson State DL Senior
Kyle Anthony Howard WR Sophomore
Sam Baptiste Alabama State OL Senior
Jason Baxter South Carolina State DB Senior
Dillon Beard Southern University TE Senior
Elijah Bell North Carolina A&T WR Sophomore
Jordan Bentley Alabama A&M RB Sophomore
Jarell Bright Winston-Salem State DL Sophomore
Michael Brooks Alcorn State DL Senior
Antonio Brown North Carolina Central DL Senior
Trenton Cannon Virginia State RB Senior
Martez Carter Grambling State RB Senior
Tedrick Cofield Albany State OL Senior
Lenorris Footman Alcorn State QB Senior
Khris Gardin North Carolina A&T WR/KR Senior
Timothy Gardner Alcorn State OL Senior
Amir Hall Bowie State QB Sophomore
Leroy Hill North Carolina A&T TE Junior
Marcus Holliday Lane RB Junior
Austin Howard Southern University QB Senior
Daris Johnson Bowie State OL Senior
Yahkee Johnson Hampton RB Senior
Danny Johnson Southern University DB Senior
Rodriquez Jones Kentucky State DL Senior
Lavatiae Kelly Virginia Union WR Junior
DeVante Kincade Grambling State QB Senior
Edward Kirkland Benedict DB Senior
Darius Leonard South Carolina State LB Senior
Brandon Lynch Virginia State LB Senior
Alden McClellon North Carolina Central DB Junior
Johnathon McCrary Clark Atlanta QB Senior
Jonah McCutcheon Tuskegee DB Senior
Okechi Ntiasagwe Benedict WR Junior
Ebenezer Ogundeko Tennessee State DL Senior
Brandon Parker North Carolina A&T OL Senior
Anthony Philyaw Howard RB Senior
Lamar Raynard North Carolina A&T QB Junior
Diquan Richardson Bethune-Cookman DB Senior
Trent Scott Grambling State OL Senior
Patrick Smith Tennessee State WR Senior
David Smith Morehouse LB Senior
Victor Tamba, Junior Bowie State OL Senior
Dayshawn Taylor South Carolina State LB Senior
Carlo Thomas Johnson C. Smith DB Senior
Osband Thompson Tuskegee LB Senior
Aaron Tiller Southern University DL Senior
Brandon Varner Grambling State DL Junior
Herb Walker, Jr. Morgan State RB Senior
Donovan Wheaton Prairie View A&M OL Senior
Charles Williams Benedict DL Senior


The Black College Football Hall of Fame was founded in 2009 by African-American pioneers, quarterbacks James Harris and Doug Williams to preserve the history and honor the greatest football players, coaches and contributors from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). There have been 64 Inductees since inception, including Mel BlountJames HarrisWillie LanierArt Shelland Doug Williams, who serve as Trustees.


David “Deacon” Jones played defensive end for South Carolina State University and Mississippi Valley State University from 1958 to 1960. Blessed with speed, agility, and quickness, the “Deacon” became one of the finest pass rushers in the business. He won unanimous All-NFL honors six straight years from 1965 through 1970 and was selected to eight Pro Bowls. Jones is an inaugural Black College Football Hall of Fame inductee (2010) and is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.


« Back to News