HBCU 2016 NFL Draft Prospects: Part Five

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Updated: April 29, 2016
By Tony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus
NEW HAVEN (BASN) — Once again, we continue our exclusive 2016 NFL Draft preview by taking an educated and unbiased peek at the best available HBCU football prospects position-by-position.
While the players from the larger predominantly white schools always get the major pub, we here at BASN have traditionally tried to show some much needed love to the talented players that toil in the MEAC, CIAA, SWAC, SIAC, and beyond.
As documented in “Four Quarters of Soul”, our comprehensive collaboration on the great HBCU players that should be the Hall of Fame, we’ll use this series to educate you on the many “diamonds in the rough” that if given the opportunity will shine forever.
The first three days, we focused on offensive players: quarterbacks and running backs, wide receivers and tight ends, and offensive lineman. Yesterday, we finally went to the other side of the ball with a look at defensive lineman.
Today’s focus will be on linebackers. Players are listed alphabetically.
Jamar Abd Al-Qadir, Albany State (6-0, 250)
A key component for the Albany State defense, Al-Quadir recorded 51 tackles, five quarterback hurries, two pass breakups, a fumble recovery and a forced fumble in 2015. He also was chosen for the Dream Bowl in 2016.
Demarcus Berry, Arkansas-Pine Bluff (6-3, 250)
A two-time All-SWAC performer, Berry finished the season with 62 tackles (20 solos, 42 assists), 9.0 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, one forced fumble, one fumble return, seven quarterback hurries and pass break up. He recorded a season high nine tackles against Prairie View A&M. He finished his career with 120 tackles, 7 picks, and 11 passes defensed.
Akil Blount, Florida A&M (6-2, 243)
A two-time all-MEAC performer, Blount was the Rattlers’ leading tackler the last two seasons. The son of Hall of Famer Mel Blount, Akil played all four seasons in Tallahassee. In 2015, he was tied for first on the Rattlers with 75 total tackles had two interceptions, both of which he returned for touchdowns. As a junior, he had 72 tackles (42 solos), to go with seven tackles for 22 yards in losses, plus 1.5 quarterback sacks, and interception, three pass breakups and one blocked field goal. He was also selected to play in the 2016 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl.
Jarkevis Fields, Bethune-Cookman (6-0, 230)
A two-time All-MEAC performer, Fields served as a captain and defensive leader for the Wildcats this past season from his linebacker position on the field. He led the Maroon and Gold with 105 tackles (15th-best in the MEAC), including six tackles for loss and two interceptions. He finished his BCC career third on the school’s all-time list for tackles, finishing with 317 total tackles. Fields also finished his four-year career just six tackles shy of a share for the all-time lead in that department.
NOTE: In February, he signed a contract with the Brisbane Outlaws of the National Gridiron League of Australia.
Rodrick Holloman, Miles College (5-10, 210)
An All-SIAC selection in 2015, Holloman anchored the linebacker unit for the Golden Bears. He was third on the team in tackles (top-40 in the SIAC) and tackles for loss and fourth on the team in sacks. He had his best performances against some of the top teams in Division II. Holloman recorded a season-high nine tackles against North Alabama, and followed that with six tackles and a forced fumble against West Georgia.
Austin Jacques, Johnson C. Smith (6-3, 240)
The CIAA’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2015, Jacques finished as the top JCSU tackler in 2015.  For the season, Jacques finished with 132 total tackles with 89 being solo stops. The three-time All-CIAA performer and Division II All-American also recorded 22.5 tackles for loss of 87 yards.  Jacques recorded 4.5 sacks on the season, good for 32 yards.  For his career, Jacques finished with 318 total tackles, 193 of which were solo stops.  He had 49.5 tackles for loss (170 yards) and recorded 8.0 sacks (57 yards).  He also has five career interceptions, three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.
Deon King, Norfolk State (6-1, 235)
A two-time All-MEAC performer and FCS All-American, King was NSU’s first-ever winner of the Buck Buchanan Award as the nation’s top FCS defensive player in 2015. King led all of Division I football (FBS and FCS) with 163 total tackles this year. He also had 11 tackles for loss, three sacks, one interception and one forced fumble. He finished sixth in the voting for the STATS FCS Defensive Player of the Year award – highest of any HBCU player.
Reggie Owens, South Carolina State (6-1, 220)
A two-time All-MEAC performer, Owens was part of an SCSU defense that ranked No. 2 overall in the conference, No. 1 against the pass, and led in interceptions. In 2015, Owens had 46 tackles (34 solo) and seven sacks. He finished his Bulldog career with 145 tackles and 19.5 sacks.
Jewell Ratliff, Tuskegee (6-1, 238)
A two-time SIAC and All-American, Ratliff was tabbed as the SIAC’s Player of the Year (overall) and Defensive Player of the Year in 2015. He led the league in total tackles with 148. The senior finished with 70 solo tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss (51 yards lost) and 3.5 sacks (13 yards lost). He also finished the year with three pass break-ups, one quarterback hurry and two forced fumbles.
Joshua Thome, Hampton (6-2, 220)
An All-MEAC selection in 2015, Thorne led the Pirates and was 10th in the MEAC with 78 tackles this season, including a season-high 12 each at South Carolina State and against Florida A&M. He also had 9.0 tackles for loss on the season, and Thorne ended his career at Hampton with 301 tackles – fifth-most in program history.
Tavarius Washington, Albany State (6-2, 230)
A three-time All-SIAC selection and Division II Al-American, Washngton led the Golden Rams in 2015 with 86 total tackles (57 solo). He also recorded two sacks, an interception and three fumble recoveries.
NEXT: Defensive backs.

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