Atkinson, East Highlight BTRC/BASN Team

By Tony McClean
Updated: August 28, 2008

Zach EastNEW HAVEN, Ct. — Over the last few weeks, Tuskegee quarterback Jacary Atkinson and Prairie View linebacker Zach East have received numerous national and conference accolades for their outstanding 2007 campaigns.

With the first major week of black college football set to begin this Labor Day weekend, these pair of athletes have been awarded even more honors to start 2008. Atkinson and East were tabbed as members of the Preseason All-America team.

The 2007 SIAC Offensive Player of the Year, Atkinson helped lead the Golden Tigers to an undefeated season (12-0) while throwing 34 touchdowns and adding another seven on the ground.

The 6-foot-3 junior, who was also tabbed as the Offensive Player of the Year, was the catalyst for a Tuskegee attack that led the SIAC in rushing, scoring, passing, and total offense .

The Tigers were tabbed by BTRC/BASN and SBN as last year’s Black College football champions and have been picked to repeat as SIAC champions. Running backs William Ford from South Carolina State (1,389 yards, 4 TDs) and Tennessee State Javarris Williams (1,187 yards, 14 TDs) make up the rest of the preseason backfield.

Atkinson will be joined by two other teammates on this year’s offense. Sophomore lineman Michael Stevens and wide receiver Jason English are a part of the BTRC/BASN preseason squad. The SIAC’s leading receiver in 2007, English (39 catches, 14 TDs) is flanked by Hampton’s Jeremy Gilchrist for the wideout spot.

A senior, who was tabbed as a 2007 Walter Camp All-America selection as a return specialist, is also this year’s preseason choice as a kick returner. Gilchrist also had 69 catches for 1,049 yards (15.1 avg.) and seven touchdowns.

The only sophomore on this year’s team, the 6-foot-2, 300-pound Williams is joined on the offensive line by seniors Demarcus Stewart of Southern (6-1, 315); Dennis Conley from Hampton (6-4, 303); Raymond Harrison of South Carolina State (6-2, 275); Laquentin Blair from Virginia Union (6-5, 260); and Lane College tight end Robert Smith (6-3, 230).

East, the 2007 BTRC/BASN and SWAC Defensive Player of the Year, is arguably the best that HBCU football has to offer. The 5-foot-2 linebacker from Houston led the conference in tackles, tallied 14.5 tackles for loss, three sacks, four forced fumbles and a blocked kick.

Other linebackers tabbed for the preseason squad include Howard’s Endor Cooper and Tim Turner from Arkansas-Pine Bluff. The defensive line consists of Vincent Lands from Southern; Shaw’s Louis Ellis; Jarvis DeVaughn of Tuskegee and Marcus Kennedy from St. Augustine’s.

The secondary includes Alabama A&M’s Al Donaldson; Dre’Mail Hardin from Stillman College and Terrell Whitehead of Norfolk State. Jackson State’s Malcolm Palmer and Sam Pope of Hampton tied for the final spot.

As for special teams, junior Eric Perri of Jackson State is the place kicker, Hampton’s Jahmal Blanchard is tabbed as punter, and Corey Council of Bethune-Cookman is the punt returner.

For the second straight year, and BASN will combine to release a weekly Top 10 Black College Football Poll. The first top 10 of the season will be released on September 8th.

2008 Preseason All-America Team


QB: Jacary Atkinson, Sr., Tuskegee- xx

RB: William Ford, Jr., South Carolina State- x

RB: Javarris Williams, Sr., Tennessee State

OL: Michael Stevens, So., Tuskegee

OL: Demarcus Stewart, Sr., Southern

OL: Dennis Conley, Sr., Hampton

OL: Raymond Harrison, Sr., South Carolina State

OL: Laquentin Blair, Sr., Virginia Union

TE: Robert Smith, Sr., Lane College

WR: Jason English, Sr., Tuskegee- x

WR: Jeremy Gilchrist, Sr., Hampton


DL: Vincent Lands, Sr., Southern

DL: Louis Ellis, Sr., Shaw University- x

DL: Jarvis DeVaughn, Sr., Tuskegee

DL: Marcus Kennedy, Sr., St. Augustine’s

LB: Zach East, Sr., Prairie View A&M- xxx

LB: Endor Cooper, Sr., Howard University

LB: Tim Turner, Sr., Arkansas-Pine Bluff

DB: Al Donaldson, Sr., Alabama A&M- x

DB: Dre’Mail Hardin, Sr., Stillman College- x

DB: Terrell Whitehead, Sr., Norfolk State

DB: Malcolm Palmer, Jr., Jackson State; Sam Pope, Sr., Hampton (tie)


K: Eric Perri, Jr., Jackson State

P: Jahmal Blanchard, Jr., Hampton

PR: Corey Council, Sr., Bethune-Cookman

KR: Jeremy Gilchrist, Sr., Hampton

x-2007 All-America selection

xx-2007 Offensive Player of the Year

xxx-2007 Defensive Player of the Year