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HBCU Game Time

Top HBCU Football Recruiting Classes

The HBCU sports season is ongoing and as host of the national sports talk radio show, From the Press Box to Press Row, I cover all the action on the games that showcase our Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Let’s play!

For eight years now, I have ranked the top 10 HBCU FCS recruiting classes. The top five can be found in this space and the rest of the class can be found here.

The rankings are based on the talent that was brought in and research I did based upon school releases, local newspaper articles, and recruiting boards:

1. South Carolina State
Head coach Buddy Pough and his staff have never been below five in all the years I have done these rankings. SCSU always recruits at home first and while last year was the only time they really didn’t (of the 17 players from last year’s class, only four were from South Carolina), this year, 12 of the 16 are from the Palmetto state. The Bulldogs focused on offense as evidenced by the 12 recruits on that side of the ball. Recruits include Saluda’s three-star offensive lineman Kwamelle Barnes and Union County’s T.J. Foster, a three-star wide receiver who was ranked as one of the top 175 in wide receivers in the country.

2. North Carolina A&T
Head coach Rod Broadway and his staff didn’t get some of the recruits that had the stars by their names as maybe some of the other programs, but they certainly recruited to fill immediate needs. The class began with three quarterbacks who all put up excellent numbers at their respective previous stop. Hasaan Klugh (Central Cabarrus) is a two-star quarterback who compiled 2,387 yards in total offense and 34 touchdowns in 2013. Lamar Raynard (Andrews) completed 61 percent of his passes and threw for 2,168 yards and 29 touchdowns in leading Andrews to the 2-AA North Carolina state title. Frank Foster already has collegiate experience, transferring from Southwestern College (CA) where in two years he threw for 2,338 yards and 18 touchdowns, completing 63 percent of his passes in 2013. Twelve of the Aggies 16 signees were in state.

3. Tennessee State
The Tigers had been No. 1 in each of the last two years. This year, head coach Rod Reed and his staff brought in nine players each on both sides of the ball. With the loss of a couple of offensive lineman led by BOX TO ROW All-American Kadeem Edwards, the Tigers signed four including Justin Brooks (Melrose) and JUCO transfer Tony Holmes (Itawamba Community College). With another All-American, tight end A.C. Leonard, declaring for the draft the Tigers signed two tight ends in 6-7, 250 Chris Wallace from Lainphier High School in Springfield, Illinois and Itawamba Community College transfer Archie Dennard. The Tigers also signed four mid-year transfers including running back Tom Smith who transferred from the University of Tennessee.

4. Norfolk State
The one thing head coach Pete Adrian hasn’t had in a while is a starting quarterback that he and his staff could groom for all four years. He may have found one with the signing of Terrance Ervin (L.C. Bird). Ervin led Bird to its first two Virginia state titles his junior and senior seasons. Ervin threw for 2,065 yards and 27 touchdowns as a senior. He was 29-0 in those two seasons as a starter. The Spartans picked up a couple of very good offensive linemen in two-star recruit Thomas Coleman (Western Branch) and Martavias Robinson who was a teammate of Ervin in 2012 and played a year of prep football at Atlanta Sports Academy.

5. Prairie View A&M
Head coach Heishma Northern and his staff placed a great emphasis on defense in this class. While the Panthers had the top offense in the SWAC and sixth best in FCS, they had one of the worst defenses. A couple of two-star recruits committed to the Panthers including Northview’s (Ala.) Josh Bighems and Landry-Walker’s (La.) Damond Jackson who received a number of FBS offers including Arkansas State, SMU, and Troy. Of their six recruits on offense, three are wide receivers including in-state recruits Worthing’s Yzerrick Oliver and West Mesquite’s William Stanley who could both contribute immediately.

You can follow Donal Ware on Twitter @dware1 and @boxtorowPlease share your thoughts at talkback@jetmag.com.