Ford, Speaks named BTRC/BASN players of the year; Broadway named coach of the year

By Tony McClean
Updated: December 30, 2008

From the Press Box BASN NEW HAVEN, Ct. — For South Carolina State running back William Ford, Jackson State linebacker Marcellus Speaks, and Grambling head football coach Rod Broadway, the 2008 football season proved to be one of great accomplishments.

Not only were Ford and Speaks tabbed as all-conference players for a second straight season, they also helped lead their respective schools to either a league and or division championship as well.

Broadway led his Tigers to a No. 1 ranking in the final HBCU Top 10 College Football Poll. Today, both Ford and Speaks have been named Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year respectively by the 18 voting members of the HBCU Top 10 College Football Poll and All-American team and Broadway has been named Coach of the Year.

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

Chosen the MEAC’s Offensive Player of the Year, Ford led the MEAC in rushing with 1,499 yards and was tied for third in the conference in scoring (78 points). He carried the ball 246 times for an average of 115.3 yards and accounted for 13 touchdowns.

A junior from Travelers Rest, South Carolina, Ford is just 1,009 yards away from becoming the MEAC’s all-time leading rusher. The conference’s Preseason Player of the Year honoree, he received the Rookie of the Year award in 2006 and was recently named a finalist for the Walter Payton Award.

A 6-foot-2, 230-pound senior from Jackson, Mississippi, Speaks led the SWAC with 115 tackles (54 solo, 20.5 for loss), along with 5.0 sacks, one interception, two forced fumbles, and one blocked kick in leading the Tigers to the SWAC Championship Game for the second consecutive year.

Tabbed as the SWAC’s Defensive Player of the Year, Speaks had six games of at least 10 tackles this season, with a streak of three consecutive 10+ tackle games earlier this season.

Speaks is the first Tiger to win the SWAC defensive POY award since Tommy Head in 1999 and the eighth to receive the honor since 1985. He was just recently named to the 2008 American Football Coaches Association 2008 Football Championship Subdivision Coaches’ All-American Team.

After inheriting a GSU squad that went 3-8 in 2006, Broadway has gone 19-6 the last two seasons while leading the Tigers to back-to-back appearances in the SWAC Championship game.

The Tigers (11-2, 7-0 SWAC) avenged last year’s 42-31 loss in the title game to Jackson State with a convincing 41-9 thrashing earlier this month. GSU had also defeated JSU 14-5 during the regular season.

It was Grambling’s 22nd SWAC championship. This year’s Black college football title marks the second national crown by Broadway in three years. The former University of North Carolina standout also won a national black college title in 2006 at North Carolina Central.

In fact, it was the win against JSU that began GSU’s season-ending 10-game winning streak. A big part of the Tigers’ championship run this season was the continued maturation of Dillon.

Another key component of Grambling State’s National Black College Championship squad was also tabbed for an award by the BTRC/BASN voters. Quarterback Greg Dillon has been tabbed as Rookie of The Year.

A 6-foot, 200 pound native of Bogalusa, Louisiana., Dillon took control of the Tigers’ quarterback position in the month of October and has had a memorable first year with 1,242 yards passing, 686 rushing yards, 15 touchdown passes and three rushing touchdowns.

Arguably, his finest moments of the season came in GSU’s final two games — victories over Southern in the Bayou Classic and Jackson State in the SWAC Championship Game.

Against the Jaguars at the Superdome, Dillon had a solid performance with 151 yards passing on 9-of-13 attempts and 136 rushing yards on 26 attempts. In the title game, he was named the offensive MVP after finishing 13-of-19 for 145 yards passing with three touchdowns.