The HBCU football calendar is at the spring practice portion of the year when teams start to assess the roles of their players.
The landscape is currently filled with storylines, position battles, and change as the season draws near.
Spring is a season of renewal and what is to come. And what to watch for.
Here are five Black college football teams that deserve your attention the most.
Edward Waters Tigers
Last season, Edward Waters finished with a 5-6 record, falling win short of their first winning season in well over ten years.
Entering what will be their third season since returning to the SIAC, the Edward Waters Tigers did themselves a huge favor with a fantastic signing day.
The Tigers fielded several Division I transfers, including Bethune-Cookman defensive end Shanoyd Whyte and Massachusetts linebacker Michael Nesmith.
These are enormous additions for a defense that had a solid year last season, forcing 27 turnovers.
The question for the team is, are they ready to take that next step to become a contender in the SIAC, or was this fool’s gold?
One of the team’s best weapons on offense, leading rusher Tyler King, has now moved on, and finding his replacement will be their top priority in spring training.
King played a significant role in the team’s success rushing for 470 yards and scoring seven touchdowns.
Prairie View A&M Panthers
Prairie View A&M’s season ended disappointingly last year, losing 27-7 against Mississippi Valley State in their final game, ruining their bid for a second straight SWAC West division title.
The Panthers were the top rushing team in the SWAC, averaging 233.7 rushing yards per game and scoring 28 rushing touchdowns.
Leading the way for PV is quarterback Trazon Connely who ranked second in the conference with 13 rushing touchdowns.
Although the Panthers lost two key offensive weapons to the transfer portal, running back Jaden Stewart and wide receiver Jailon Howard, they replaced them with two SWAC transfers.
Former Mississippi Valley State running back Caleb Johnson and Alabama A&M wide receiver Brian Jenkins Jr. will look to fill the void left.
Not to mention senior running back Ahmad Antoine, who could be in for a breakout season after putting up 627 rushing yards on 100 attempts and scoring six touchdowns.
Texas Southern Tigers
Last season, Texas Southern came one win away from winning the SWAC West division, something they have not done in over 20 years.
Not only is the majority of the Tigers’ team returning in 2023, but they also reeled in a solid recruiting class, one of which has been a viral sensation.
Videos of wide receiver Quaydarius Davis’ athletic prowess have made the rounds on social media showcasing his pass-catching and ability to elude defenders.
Davis received offers from power five programs such as Alabama, Texas, USC, and Georgia, initially committing to USC before transferring to Jackson State and ending up at Texas Southern.
As he enters his junior season, he will be a fantastic addition to the Texas Southern offense and rising star quarterback Andrew Body.
In addition to running back duo LaDarius Owens and Jacorey Howard, this Tigers team is fully equipped to get over the hump and win the division finally.
Virginia State Trojans
In their first season under new head coach Henry Frazier III, the Virginia State Trojans finished a solid season with a 6-4 record.
The Trojans’ defense was the star of the show, ranking among the top units of Division II, forcing 25 turnovers, including 17 in the first five games.
Leading the attack for Virginia State was sophomore defensive back Willie Drew recording five interceptions (second in CIAA) and recovered a fumble.
The team had a perfect signing day making some significant additions to further bolster their talented defensive unit.
These include Rhode Island cornerback transfer Arthur White, Arizona defensive end transfer, and Mehkhi Johnson.
Not only did the Trojans have a swarming defense, but their offense was also not too shabby, ranking second in the CIAA in scoring (30.5).
Other than losing leading rusher Darius Hagans, most of Virginia State’s offensive unit from last season is still intact.
This team will be a significant contender in the CIAA if they can build on what they did last season.
Virginia Union Panthers
If we’re being honest here, each team in the CIAA North could occupy a respective spot on this list, with each group carrying game-changing storylines into the season.
The biggest storyline for the Virginia Union Panthers is what new heights they can reach, led by their star running back, Jada Byers.
Byers had a statement season in 2022, leading Division II in rushing yards per game (175.3) and tied for the sixth-most rushing touchdowns (19).
The team finished the 9-1 in the regular season, with their one loss proving costly as it prevented them from clinching a berth in their first conference championship game since 2007.
Still, the Panthers were selected to play in the Division II playoffs hosting a game for the first time in 32 years.
This team will be slightly different from last year, with one noticeable difference being quarterback Jakhari Grant.
Likely filling the starting role under center for the Panthers will be Christian Reid. In limited snaps last season, Reid completed 8-of-12 pass attempts and scored four touchdowns.
If he can keep up that production in an entire season, with All-CIAA receiver John Jiles to work with, this Panthers offense will be a must-see.
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