BTRC/BASN All America Team Announced

By Tony McClean
Updated: December 28, 2008

From the Press Box BASN NEW HAVEN, Ct. — A pair of defensive lineman from Grambling State’s National Black College Championship team and the three offensive members of South Carolina State’s MEAC championship squad are just a part of the 2008 HBCU All-America Team.

The team is made up of 27 of the top Black college football players in the country.

On offense, Tuskegee record-setting quarterback Jacary Atkinson headlines a backfield that includes running backs William Ford of South Carolina State and Tennessee State’s Javarris Williams. All three were named to the 2008 BTRC/BASN Preseason All-America Team.

The SIAC Offensive Player of the Year and finalist for the Harlon Hill Trophy, Atkinson has led the Golden Tigers to three straight conference crowns. He finished the season with 2,642 yards passing — the fourth-highest single season total in school history — and 24 touchdowns.

He also rushed for 724 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Ford, a junior, led the MEAC in rushing with 1,499 yards and was tied for third in the conference scoring (78 points). He carried the ball 246 times for an average of 115.3 yards and accounted for 13 touchdowns. Ford is just 1,009 yards away from becoming the MEAC’s all-time leading rusher.

As for Williams, the Ohio Valley Conference’s Offensive Player of the Year, he averaged a league-best 103.7 ypg with 1,037 yards in 10 games, including a league-best 15 rushing touchdowns. He finished his TSU career as the school’s All-time rushing TD leader (42) and second on the All-Time rushing list with 4,329 yards.

The BTRC/BASN offensive line was made up of South Carolina State’s Raymond Harrison, Cornelius Lewis of Tennessee State, Tuskegee’s Michael Stevens, Florida A&M’s Robert Okeafor, Dennis Conley of Hampton, and Oliver Pazdry of Shaw.

A BTRC/BASN Preseason selection, Harrison was a key performer in one of the most dominating offensive attacks in the MEAC this season. The 6-foot-2, 275-pound senior helped the Bulldog offense amass nearly 5,000 yards of total offense (4,972) including 2,651 yards on the ground.

Other offensive choices were South Carolina State tight end Octavius Darby as well as wide receivers Justin Brown of Hampton and Southern University’s Juamorris Stewart. Brown led the MEAC in receiving yards (887), averaging 80.6 per game, and was second in the conference in catches per game with 5.1.

Defensively, the BTRC/BASN line is anchored by a pair of Grambling State bookends — Christian Anthony and Melvin Matthews. A 6-foot-4, 246 pound sophomore from Birmingham, Anthony ranks fourth on team with 48 tackles and second with 14 tackles for loss.

He also amassed six sacks on the season along with breaking up five passes and picking off two passes in 12 games played. As for Matthews, he racked up 32 total tackles with 18 of them accounting for loss.

The senior from Louisiana led the team in sacks and recorded seven quarterback hurries in addition to a blocked kick. Both players were First Team All-SWAC selections as well.

Joining them on the line is Louis Ellis of Shaw, Jackson State’s Marcus Benard, and Vincent Lands of Southern. Lands was the third leading tackler on the team in 2008, recording 70 total tackles (39 solo) to go along with 21 tackles for loss yards (t-7th in NCAA FCS).

The SWAC’s Defensive Player of the Year, Jackson State’s Marcellus Speaks leads this year’s linebacker corps. He joined by Endor Cooper of Howard, Jarrell Guyton of Morgan State, and Prairie View A&M’s Zach East.

Speaks led the SWAC with 122 tackles, while also recording five sacks, one interception and three forced fumbles. He also had six games of at least 10 tackles this season, with a streak of three consecutive 10+ tackle games earlier this season.

In the secondary, BTRC/BASN Preseason All-American selectiion Terrell Whitehead of Norfolk State headlines a list that includes Morgan State’s Darren McKhan, Dominique Johnson of Jackson State, and Gregory Toler of Saint Paul’s.

Whitehead was named First Team All-MEAC for the second straight year after leading NSU and ranking seventh in the MEAC with 83 tackles. He had the second-most passes defended (15) of any MEAC player, tallying four interceptions and 11 pass deflections.

His four picks give him 13 for his career and tied for third in the MEAC.

Finally, a pair of Hampton Pirates are part of the BTRC/BASN specialist squad. Junior punter Jahmal Blanchard (43.1 ypp) and punt returner Jeremy Gilchrist (15.6 ypr, 3 TDs) were chosen along with Alabama A&M placekicker Jeremy Licea and kick returner LeRoy Vann of Florida A&M.

The HBCU All-American team is a collaboration between two major African-American sports entities, DWCommunications, LLC (the parent company of and The Black Athlete Sports Network (

The voters are comprised of some of America’s top writers who cover black college football.

2008 BTRC/BASN All-America Team


QB: Jacary Atkinson, Tuskegee (6-3, 205, Sr., Valley, Ala.) RB: William Ford, South Carolina State (5-11, 185, Jr., Travelers Rest, S.C.) RB: Javarris Williams, Tennessee State (5-11, 215, Sr., Richmond, Tex.) OL: Raymond Harrison, South Carolina State (6-2, 275, Sr., Columbia, S.C.) OL: Cornelius Lewis, Tennessee State (6-5, 310, Sr., Jacksonville, Fla.) OL: Michael Stevens, Tuskegee (6-5, 380, Jr., Montgomery, Ala.) OL: Robert Okeafor, Florida A&M (6-4, 295, Jr., Jacksonville, Fla.) OL: (tie) Dennis Conley, Hampton (6-4, 303, Sr. Suffolk, Va.) OL: (tie) Oliver Pazdry, Shaw (6-3, 310, Sr. Brooklyn, N.Y.) TE: Octavius Darby, South Carolina State (6-4, 240, Sr., Hollywood, Fla.) WR: Justin Brown, Hampton (6-2, 200, Sr., Dover, N.J.) WR: Juamorris Stewart, Southern (6-3, 195, Jr., Baton Rouge, La.)


DL: Louis Ellis, Shaw (6-4, 295, Sr., Jackson, Miss.) DL: Marcus Benard, Jackson State (6-4, 260, Sr., Ypsilanti, Mi.) DL: Christian Anthony, Grambling State (6-4, 246, Jr., Birmingham, Ala.) DL: (tie) Melvin Matthews, Grambling State (6-5, 305, Sr. Clinton, La.) DL: (tie) Vincent Lands, Southern (6-1, 250, Sr., Baton Rouge, La.) LB: Marcellus Speaks, Jackson State (6-2, 230, Sr., Jackson, Miss.) LB: Endor Cooper, Howard (6-3, 245, Sr., Woodbridge, Va.) LB: (tie) Jarrell Guyton, Morgan State (6-0, 225, Sr., Miami, Fla.) LB: (tie) Zach East, Prairie View A&M (6-2, 230, Sr. Houston, Tex.) DB: Terrell Whitehead, Norfolk State (6-2, 200, Jr., Virginia Beach, Va.) DB: Darren McKhan, Morgan State (6-0, 180, Jr., Miami, Fla.) DB: Dominique Johnson, Jackson State (6-2, 200, Sr. Texas City, Tex.) DB: Gregory Toler, Saint Paul’s (6-1, 185, Sr., Washington, D.C.)


PK: Jeremy Licea, Alabama A&M (5-7, 147, Jr., Ventura, Calif.) P: Jahmal Blanchard, Hampton (6-3, 182, Jr., Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) KR: LeRoy Vann, Florida A&M (5-9, 182, Jr., Tampa, Fla.) PR: Jeremy Gilchrist, Hampton (5-10, 174, Sr., Virginia Beach, Va.)



QB – Bryant Lee, Southern; RB – Devan James, Morgan State; OL – Revay Smith, Grambling State, Cleveland Collie, Prairie View A&M; WR – Dexter Manley, Elizabeth City State, Jason English, Tuskegee, Thomas Harris Alabama A&M.


DL – Jarvis DeVaughan, Tuskegee, Justin Lawrence, Morgan State, Vincent Lands, Southern, Sammie Hill, Stillman, Jeremy Maddox, Alabama A&M, Marcus Kennedy St. Augustine’s; LB – Travis Roland, Bethune-Cookman, Jeffrey Cargile, Morehouse; DB – Dre’Mail Hardin, Stillman, Darnell Brown, Langston, Anthony Beck, Prairie View A&M, Justin Hamilton, Elizabeth City State, Jeff Franklin, Central State.