For 15 years, BOXTOROW has ranked the top 10 HBCU FCS recruiting classes. Due to the pandemic, there weren’t as many large classes this year as there have seen in year’s past.
The rankings are based on research and information received from school releases, from information in local newspaper articles, and recruiting boards.
T-10 Morgan State
Morgan State head football coach Tyrone Wheatley and his staff followed up the 2020 class with a solid 2021 class. Of the Bears 15 signings, six were from the Baltimore area and three were from the DMV. Offensive lineman Chance Moore is a two-star recruit from River Rouge in Redford, Mich. who will add depth on the offensive line which is much improved. Joshua Graham is an athlete who the Bears see as a defensive back. He had 13 offers including an offer from Iowa State.
Larry Scott is in his first season as head football coach at Howard and he and his staff have brought in a solid recruiting class. The jewel of the class could be three-star dual-threat quarterback Undre Lindsay from Gaffney (SC). The Bison placed an emphasis on defense signing two-star cornerback Jabari Knighten from Sebring (FL), defensive end Emerson Martine who held offers from Akron, Charlotte, and Liberty, two-star defensive lineman Curtis Miller from Miller Creek in Sicklerville, NJ, and two-star safety Xavier Robiou from North Miami Beach. Howard has always had a national profile and hasn’t always recruited from the Washington, D.C. area until more recently. Six of the Bison recruits are from the DMV. 9.
9. South Carolina State
South Carolina State head coach Buddy Pough, now in his 19th season as head coach of the Bulldogs program, is a model of consistency. Each year, he and his staff rarely leave the Palmetto state to recruit and when names like Darius Leonard, Antonio Hamilton, Alex Brown, Temmarick Hemmingway, Javon Hargrave – okay so the Bulldogs did cross the border 50 miles or so into North Carolina to get Hargrave – are mentioned, these are all South Carolina kids currently playing in the NFL. Ten of the Bulldogs 12 signees are native to South Carolina. The Bulldogs addressed needs including on the offensive and defensive lines signing seven. Coach Pough feels like Ian Shark (Collenton County) and Elijah Young (Gray Collegiate Academy) can help the Bulldogs early and help protect 2019 MEAC Rookie of the Year quarterback Corey Fields. Shark is an All-State performer and was named All-Region Offensive Lineman of the Year. Young was a first team All-State performer. Quite a few defensive backs have played for the Bulldogs and gone onto the National Football League recently, like Hamilton and Brown, and the Bulldogs signed two-star prospect Aquavious Hunter from Jefferson County in Louisville, Ga. The Bulldogs also signed three-star linebacker/athlete Adonis Davis from Blackville-Hilda.
8. Prairie View A&M
Head coach Eric Dooley and his staff have made our top 10 all three years that Dooley has been head coach. The Panthers stayed at home as 10 of the 13 signees are from the football-rich state of Texas. The Panthers were in essence 13 points away from playing in the SWAC championship game last year. It will be a daunting task trying to replace all-world running back Dawonya Tucker. The Panthers also must replace quarterback Jalen Morton. There is a quarterback battle brewing between Trazon Connley (749 yards passing 7 TDs. 1 INT in 2019) and Kansas transfer TJ Starks (344 yards passing 3 TDs, 1 INT in 2019). Three-star dual threat quarterback David Moore from Lufkin (TX) could also be in the mix in the fall of 2021. He became Lufkin’s all-time leader in passing yards in 2020. BOXTOROW preseason All-American offensive lineman Danny Garza will anchor the offensive line which also returns All-SWAC preseason second team selection DeJohn Jones. PV got deeper on the line signing three-star lineman Luis Chavarria from Episcopal in Houston. He had offers from Houston, SMU, Syracuse, UNLV, and Vanderbilt. The Panthers signed two other offensive linemen in Angel Lopez from Brandies in San Antonio who was first team All-District and Morgan State transfer Allen Jones who has college experience and can play right away. Interestingly enough, three of the Panthers top five rushers in 2019 were quarterbacks and they signed one running back, Jaden Stewart from Dawson in Pearland Texas.
7. Alabama A&M
Whenever you can get a three-star quarterback, you are doing something special. When you can get two, you are off the charts. The Bulldogs have the quarterback of now and presumably the future. Aqeel Glass is one of the best pro prospects at quarterback in the country and in 2019 threw for 3,600 yards and 32 touchdowns. Head coach Connell Maynor (who knows a little something about quarterbacks) and his staff looked to the future when signing CJ Dixon who prepped at Jirek Prep and played at Grayson in Loganville, Ga. He was ranked four stars by ESPN in 2019. He’s the kind of pro-style quarterback Connell Maynor likes as he has good size, standing 6-6 and weighing 220 pounds. Dixon had offers from Alabama, Illinois, Arkansas, Baylor, Florida, Maryland, Ohio State, Georgia, and others. Kaden McMullen from Living Word Christian in O’Fallon, Mo. is a three-star recruit who passed for 6,898 yards and 73 TDs and rushed for over 1,000 yards and 12 TDs in three years of varsity. McMullen received offers from Boise State and Missouri amongst others.
6. Tennessee State
Rod Reed and his staff signed 11 of their 12 recruits during the mid-year signing period. The Tigers received some immediate help at quarterback, signing Isaiah Green a transfer from Marshall. A two-year starter that helped the Thundering Herd win a bowl game, he started all 13 games for Marshall as a sophomore completing 54 percent of his passes for 2,438 yards, 15 TDs and 11 INTs and rushed for 300 yards and five touchdowns. Tucker Pope from Walker Valley (TN) was ranked the 34th best QB in Tennessee and should add depth at the position. TSU will sorely miss former BOXTOROW All-American Chris Rowland now with the Atlanta Falcons. Wide receiver Roscoe Gibson is a three-star recruit from Edison (Miami) who had offers from Coastal Carolina and Syracuse. TSU has sent many offensive linemen to the National Football League including last year’s only HBCU selection in Lachavious Simmons. In addition to already having BOXTOROW preseason All-American Cam Durley, The Tigers signed Jarod Russell from Riverdale in Murfreesboro, TN who was rated the 31st best lineman in Tennessee. Reed feels like he can come in and play right away. The Tigers also signed Sean McMoore a transfer from Vanderbilt who played in 18 games over three years. Defensively, Coffeyville CC transfer Brenyen Scott is versatile and can play corner, nickel or safety and will be a help to BOXTOROW preseason All-American Nick Harper Jr. who will anchor the secondary. Defensive tackle Sincere Littles from Riverview Sarasota (FL) is a two-star athlete who had offers from Army, Coastal Carolina, Kansas, Louisville, Navy, and USF.
Head coach Terry Sims and his staff had one of the bigger classes, signing 20. Quarterback was an immediate need and the Wildcats went the transfer rout, signing former Arkansas-Pine Bluff quarterback Patrick Shannon just in time for SWAC play. Shannon led the SWAC in completion percentage (.628), was third in passing yards (2,250), and threw 19 TDs and 13 INTs. With its move to the SWAC, the Wildcats put a premium on trying to stop high-powered offenses as fourteen of the signees were on the defensive side of the ball. Most of the players have college experience and can come in and play right away including: defensive end Cleotis Anglin a transfer from Ohio University; linebacker KeShaun Blackmon a transfer from Mississippi Delta CC where he played in 2019 and had 33 tackles, 10.5 for loss; defensive tackle Reginald Pearson (6-1, 325) a three-star JUCO transfer from Georgia Military Academy; and linebacker Devin Ruffin, Jr. a transfer from Iowa Western JUCO and a former three-star recruit from Lutheran in St. Louis. The Wildcats signed six defensive backs including cornerback Malik Frank of Rickards, a three-star recruit who had several FBS offers, cornerback Robert Simmons from Sandalwood in Jacksonville, a three-star recruit who had 18 FBS offers from the likes of Arkansas, NC State, Tennessee, Oregon, and Liberty, and defensive back Kameron Bell from Rickards in Tallahassee who had offers from Southern Miss. and South Alabama.
Grambling has a solid quarterback in Geremy Hickbottom, but head coach Broderick Fobbs and staff is looking towards the future and signed three-star quarterback Noah Bodden from Christ the King in New York City. Bodden had offers from Arizona State, Cincinnati, Georgia Tech, Oregon, Tennessee, and Virginia Tech to name a few. The G-Men also received some help up front signing Rod Green (6-5, 300) a three-star recruit from Springfield Spring (OH) and Colin Gordon-Green (6-3, 320) a transfer from Monroe CC. On defense the Tigers signed defensive lineman Jaden Hardy (6-3, 295) from Islands in Savannah, a three-star recruit who received offers from Baylor, Boston College, Auburn, Tennessee and many others. In the secondary, Donald Lee, III is a three-star recruit from Klein Collins in Spring, Texas, who had 14 offers and chose GSU over Houston, SMU, and Washington State to name a few.
3. Florida A&M
Head coach Willie Simmons and staff was looking towards SWAC play in 2021 when signing this class of 20. Defensively, the Rattlers signed 13, seven of those on the defensive line. Defensive end Stephone Atkinson transferred from Western Kentucky, but played in just one game. He was a three-star recruit in 2019 from Lake Minneola (FL). Defensive lineman Savion Williams is a transfer from Tennessee and was the top rated JUCO player in the class of 2019. Defensive end Khamari Brown was rated a three-star recruit by Rivals and is a local kid from Wakulla. The Rattlers also signed his twin brother Timari also a defensive lineman. Other notable defensive players include: cornerback Winsome Frazier, a three-star signee from Miami Northwestern who held 11 offers including from Maryland, Illinois, Iowa State, Nebraska, Pittsburgh, and UCF; two-star linebacker Lucius Lattimore from Trinity Christian Academy, who was All-First Coast First Team; defensive back Kendall Bohler a transfer from Mercer who redshirted; and cornerback Andre Powell a three-star recruit who played at Naples and had several FBS offers. The offense is set at quarterback, running back and all of the Rattlers top receivers from 2019 return. Offensively, the Rattlers signed three offensive linemen including Jordan White from Gadsden County in nearby Quincy and Florida State transfer Jay Williams. Tight end Kareem Grant from St. Petersburg is a three-star signee who had offers from Kent State, Marshall, Bowling Green, and FIU. If that weren’t enough the Rattlers signed wide Jeremiah Pruitte, a 6-6 transfer from Colorado State, wide receiver Jermaine Hawkins a two-star recruit from Killian (Miami) who chose FAMU over Utah and Toledo, and quarterback Jacory Jordan from Trinity Christian Academy, a three star dual-threat who had several FBS offers.
2. North Carolina A&T
The Aggies are the three-time defending national champions and Sam Washington and his staff had one of the stronger recruiting classes in recent memory. The Aggies are a perennial top 10 defense in FCS and of their 17 signings nine were on that side of the ball. There was a good mix of high school signees and transfers, particularly in the secondary. All-American defensive back Franklin Mac McCain announced that he was entering the NFL draft which left a hole and some depth issues at one corner spot. Cornerback Terrell Spicer from Northside in Jacksonville, NC is a three-star recruit who has great size for a corner (6-3, 170). He had offers from Army and Liberty. Another addition to the secondary is three-star safety Shawn Chappell, Jr. from Southern Durham who had offers from Georgia Tech, Arizona State, and Liberty. Up front is where it all begins for the Aggies who went out and got some experience on the defensive line, signing Emmanuel Ukhueligbe, a transfer from Saddleback CC and Kyiev Bennermon a transfer from Boston College who played in all 11 games in 2019, making one start. N.C. A&T also signed a three-star linebacker Sam Ofurie from IMG Academy in Salem, Mass who had offers from Michigan and Syracuse. The Aggies made some splash signings on offense signing three-star running back Charlie Dixon (6-2, 230) from Callaway HS in Hogansville, GA. Dixon has great size and had 10 offers from the likes of Tennessee, Mississippi State, Cincinnati, and Louisville to name a few. He rushed for over 1,000 yards in nine games and helped lead Callaway to the state championship. He will have some time to grow under BOXTOROW All-American running back Jah-Maine Martin. The Aggies have depth at quarterback and looked to the future, signing two-star QB Zach Yeager from Minneapolis North. Wide receiver has been the deepest position for the Aggies the last five years and they added three-star recruit Sterling Berkhalter who prepped at Georgia Prep Sports and had 15 offers including from Army, Navy, and Liberty. Elijah Bowick is a transfer from Virginia Tech who could see some time right away. On the offensive line the Aggies add Jonathan Cannon a three-star recruit from Vance in Charlotte who had offers from Coastal Carolina and Liberty.
1. Jackson State
New head coach Deion Sanders came into his new job as head football coach at Jackson State with a lot of flash. He and his staff’s class is reflective of that flash, a big class, with the signing of 23. I read from time to time about the various players Sanders was getting to commit to JSU. Saw the mid-year class and was definitely impressed. Anytime you can sign a four-star quarterback you are doing something. Still, there were a lot of FBS transfers in the class which is cool, but in these rankings, I like to see high school and JUCO signees and needs filled. On signing day is where JSU really impressed. Let’s start with the mid-year signees. His top high school signing was that of his son Shedeur Sanders, a four-star recruit ranked the No. 12 quarterback in the country and No. 8 in Texas. He finished his prep career with 12,498 yards passing and 166 TDs. He is perhaps the first four-star quarterback to sign with an HBCU directly from high school. In addition, the Tigers signed the top JUCO player in the country in defensive back De’Jahn Warren, a four-star recruit from Lackawanna JUCO who had offers from his choice of schools including Georgia, Alabama, and Auburn. Defensive tackle Braezhon Ross is another impressive signing, a three-star recruit from Desert Pines in Las Vegas. He held 25 offers from Power 5 schools and was considered the No. 5 prospect in Nevada. Other key high school signings include three-star athlete Herman Smith who played at Lincoln in San Diego and was the No. 81 recruit in California as well as James Reddick, II a two-star offensive lineman from Peach County in Fort Valley, GA who has good size (6-3, 315). Speaking of offensive linemen, Maljon Joor is a three-star JUCCO transfer who played at Mississippi Gulf Coast and was part of the team that won the JUCO national championship in 2019. He played high school football locally at Callaway. There are many FBS transfers that the Tigers signed that can come in and help right away including defensive back Isaiah Bolden a Florida State transfer who In 2019 recorded nine tackles, one interception and two pass breakups, Sanders’ son Shilo who transfers in from South Carolina and played in four games as a true freshman in 2019; and Tennessee transfer linebacker Nyles Gaddy who only played in one game for the Vols. Lastly, while cornerback Javorrius Selmon is technically a transfer and was part of Mississippi State’s 2020 signing class, he opted out of the 2020 season and never saw the field. He is another local kid from Provine and was listed as a four-star recruit by ESPN. Now, as far as the players that signed on National Signing Day, Sanders signed a pair of wide receivers in four-star recruit Trevonte Rucker from Vanguard in Ocala, FL who was ranked the 309th best player in the country, and Aalah Brown a three-star recruit from Valdosta (GA) who had offers from Oregon, West Virginia, Georgia Tech, and Mississippi. The passing game will be aided by the signing of a three-star tight end in Jency Riley from St. Helena College and Career Academy. Other signees include three-star offensive tackle Charles Armstrong from Mantee (FL) who held offers from Arizona State, Boston College, Cincinnati, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa State, Minnesota, Pittsburgh, and South Carolina, and linebacker Baron Hopson from Lee County (Ga), who had offers from Army, Cincinnati, Duke, Georgia Tech, Indiana, Michigan, Nebraska, and Vanderbilt. Hopson maintained a 4.4 GPA.