In the six years since the Black College Football Player of the Year award was presented by the Black College Football Hall of Fame, only one Division II player has won the honor.
However, with the number of players making an impact so far this season, it would not be surprising to see a second name added to that list.
These are the top candidates for the Black College Football Player of the Year award representing the Division II/NAIA level.
Markell Scott RB, Langston
Scott is a huge driving force for a Langston Lions offense that is among the top units in all of the NAIA ranks.
Scott leads the country in total rushing yards (688), is tied for second in yards per carry, third in rushing yards per game (137.6), and tied for third in rushing touchdowns (7).
He is the only player in the NAIA that ranks in the top five in all four respective categories. In addition, he is 11th in the country in all-purpose yards per game.
Scott’s signature performance came against Arkansas Baptist when he finished with 221 rushing yards on 19 attempts and three touchdowns.
Zaire Scotland RB, Benedict
Currently sitting at a perfect 5-0, the Benedict Tigers have already equaled their win total from last season. The common denominator for the team’s improvement has been redshirt freshman Zaire Scotland.
The Kennesaw State transfer has added a ground threat to a team that was already among the top passing teams in the SIAC.
Scotland currently has 360 rushing yards through five games, which is just nine rushing yards shy of outgaining the Tigers’ top leading rusher from last year.
He was a huge reason Benedict was able to remain undefeated against Fort Valley State this past weekend accounting for four of the team’s six touchdowns in the game, including three rushing TDs.
Emmanuel Wilson RB, Fort Valley State
Wilson has recorded over 100 rushing yards in each of his last two contests including a 144-yard three-touchdown game against Bluefield State. This is after opening the year with a 262-yard performance against Tuskegee.
Overall, the redshirt junior ranks sixth at the D2 level in total rushing yards and ranks eighth in rushing yards per game.
Andrew Farmer DE, Lane
Lane defensive end Andrew Farmer has been a nightmare for opposing offensive linemen with his relentless playmaking ability.
The senior lineman leads Division II with 19 tackles for loss and is in the top 15 with five sacks. He has also amassed 39 total tackles, six quarterback hurries, a forced fumble and three pass breakups.
One reason Farmer is so highly touted is that he’s had great performances against FCS competition.
He finished with a season-high 12 total tackles, six tackles for loss, and a sack in a close loss against UAPB. He then contributed 1.5 tackles for loss, a sack, and two quarterback hurries in the Dragons’ upset win at Tennessee State.
With Farmer playing well this far, it would not be shocking to see Lane make a run at a SIAC championship appearance.
Jada Byers RB, Virginia Union
From the last remaining undefeated team in the SIAC to the last remaining undefeated team in the CIAA, the Virginia Union Panthers are in a position to compete for a conference championship for the first time since 2007.
The success of the Panthers can be attributed in large part due to the dominance of sophomore running back Jada Byers.
Byers has been nothing short of spectacular leading the CIAA in rushing yards (891), rushing yards per game (178.2), and is tied for first in rushing touchdowns with 11.
His best performance so far this season came against Valdosta State when Byers set a school record with 319 rushing yards and accounting for four touchdowns.
The sophomore is on pace to shatter the Virginia Union single-season record for rushing yards (1,660) and is already ahead of the mark for rushing yards per game (150.9) both set by Andre Braxton in 2000.
If nothing else, Byers is the runaway favorite to win the CIAA Offensive Player of the Year award.
Don’t be surprised to see Byers named as a finalist for the Harlon Hill trophy at the conclusion of the regular season.
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