BIRMINGHAM, ALA. – Prairie View A&M junior running back Dawonya Tucker, Alabama A&M senior linebacker Yurik Bethune, Alabama State kick returner/running back Ezra Gray and Arkansas-Pine Bluff junior wide receiver Josh Wilkes were all named the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) Football Players of the Week in week one of the season for their outstanding play.
Prairie View A&M
Dawonya Tucker (JR, RB, Terrell, TX)
Tucker rushed 21 times for a MEAC/SWAC Challenge record 247 yards (six yards shy of a school record) with a 50-yard touchdown to seal the 40-24 victory for Prairie View A&M over North Carolina Central in the 14th annual MEAC/SWAC Challenge in Atlanta. It helped give first-year head coach Eric Dooley his first victory with the team and marked the second consecutive season in which the SWAC representative had defeated the MEAC representative in the series.
Yurik Bethune (SR, LB, Mobile, Ala.)
Bethune recorded six tackles while leading Alabama A&M with 4.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and three quarterback hurries in the Bulldogs’ 37-0 win against Miles. It was the first shutout victory for Alabama A&M in over six seasons with the last coming in October of 2012 against Mississippi Valley State. It also marked the first victory for new head coach Connell Maynor.
Ezra Gray (JR, RB/RS, Lynn Haven, Fla.)
Gray did a little bit of everything for Alabama State in their 26-20 overtime victory over Tuskegee Saturday night. The junior returned three kicks for a total of 118 yards, averaging 39.3 yards per return. He was one fingertip away from returning a kickoff for touchdown, getting pushed out of bounds after a 72-yard return to set Alabama State deep in Tuskegee territory. He also ran the ball 11 times for 66 yards, and scored the game-winning touchdown in overtime – a 30-yard run. Not to mention, he caught a pair of passes for 11 yards.
Josh Wilkes (JR, WR, Rockhill, SC)
Wilkes caught seven passes for a school-record 244 yards receiving and added two touchdowns in a 34-30 defeat against Morehouse College. Wilkes struck on some deep balls, scoring on a 37-yard touchdown in the second quarter and later added a 77-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Shannon Patrick in the fourth quarter.