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Black College Football Hall of Fame Announces 2021 Black College Football Player of the Year Award Watch List


At a glance:

  • Award is presented annually to the most outstanding college football player from a Historically Black College & University (HBCU).
  • Watch List is composed of 56 players from 27 different HBCUs.
  • Players per conference: SWAC (18), MEAC (15), SIAC (12), CIAA (11). 

Atlanta, GA (August 17, 2021) – The Black College Football Hall of Fame (BCFHOF) announced today the 2021 Watch List for the Black College Football Player of the Year Award. The Award is presented annually to the most outstanding football player from a Historically Black College & University. Former North Carolina A&T, and current Chicago Bears running back Tarik Cohen was selected as the inaugural recipient of the Award in 2016; Bowie State quarterback Amir Hall was the 2017 and 2018 recipient; Tennessee State and current Atlanta Falcons WR Chris Rowland was the 2019 recipient; and current Alabama A&M QB Aqeel Glass was the recipient of the Spring 2021 award. 

Four finalists will be unveiled on November 30, 2021. The winner of the Black College Football Player of the Year Award, which will be announced during halftime of the Inaugural  HBCU Legacy Bowl, will be honored with the Deacon Jones Trophy. The HBCU Legacy Bowl takes place on Saturday, February 19, 2022 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The game will be broadcast live on NFL Network. 

“There are many gifted football players competing at Historically Black Colleges and Universities right now,” said Super Bowl XXII MVP and BCFHOF co-founder Doug Williams. “This Award is a way for the Black College Football Hall of Fame to recognize these talented student-athletes.”

“The Deacon Jones Trophy is the most prestigious football award for HBCUs,” said BCFHOF co-founder and 2012 inductee James Harris. “Deacon Jones was a pioneer and an icon, and still to this day represents the very best of Black College Football.”

The Watch List candidates have been selected based on past performance and future potential. Additions to the list may be made as the 2021 season progresses. The finalists and the winner will be chosen by a Selection Committee.

First Name Last Name Position School Conference
Kailen Abrams LB Central State SIAC
Zach Anderson DB Fort Valley State SIAC
Markquese Bell DB Florida A&M MEAC
Cam Brown DL Savannah State SIAC
Dalane Brown, II WR Central State SIAC
Caleb Brunson DB Mississippi Valley State SWAC
Juwan Carter QB Norfolk State MEAC
Christian Clark DL Alabama State SWAC
Devyn Coles DB Norfolk State MEAC
Shaquan Davis WR South Carolina State MEAC
Derik Davis DL Albany State SIAC
Irshaad Davis DB Alabama State SWAC
De'Shaan Dixon DL Norfolk State MEAC
Santo Dunn RB Morehouse SIAC
Decobie Durant DB South Carolina State MEAC
Anthony Evelyn WR Lane SIAC
Joshua Flowers DB Winston-Salem State CIAA
Chase Foster DB Southern SWAC
Javon Frazier DL Virginia State CIAA
Sidney Gibbs RB Shaw CIAA
Chad Gilchrist LB South Carolina State MEAC
Aqeel Glass QB Alabama A&M SWAC
Jawain Granger DB Delaware State MEAC
Ezra Gray RB Alabama State SWAC
Charles Hall WR Virginia Union CIAA
Keonte Hampton LB Jackson State SWAC
Felix Harper QB Alcorn State SWAC
Ethan Howard TE Southern SWAC
Abdul-Fatai Ibrahim WR Alabama A&M SWAC
Da’Kendall James WR Norfolk State MEAC
Ja'Rome Johnson QB Bowie State CIAA
Kevin Johnson RB Norfolk State MEAC
Jordan Lewis DL Southern SWAC
Jah-Maine Martin RB North Carolina A&T Big South
Aubrey Miller, Jr. LB Jackson State SWAC
Brooks Parker LB Delaware State MEAC
Jahseari Patterson DL Fort Valley State SIAC
Nigel Peele LB Fayetteville State CIAA
LeCharles Pringle WR Alcorn State SWAC
Joshua Pryor DL Bowie State CIAA
Tyrin Ralph WR Arkansas-Pine Bluff SWAC
Shedeur Sanders QB Jackson State SWAC
Jaleel Scroggins DB Shaw CIAA
Mike Sims QB Morehouse SIAC
Jarod Sims RB Southern SWAC
Desmond Smith TE Virginia Union CIAA
Xaiver Smith WR Florida A&M MEAC
Stephen Stokes DB North Carolina Central MEAC
Brett Sylve RB Kentucky State SIAC
Ta'Shaun Taylor LB Winston-Salem State CIAA
Jalon Thigpen DB Arkansas-Pine Bluff SWAC
Jaylun Thomas DL Miles SIAC
Montavious Tinch TE Miles SIAC
Isaiah Totten RB North Carolina Central MEAC
Kolby Watts LB Arkansas-Pine Bluff SWAC
Josh Wilkes WR Arkansas-Pine Bluff SWAC
Joshua Williams DB Fayetteville State CIAA


David “Deacon” Jones played defensive end for South Carolina State University and Mississippi Valley State University from 1958 to 1960. Blessed with speed, agility, and quickness, the “Deacon” became one of the finest pass rushers in the business. He won unanimous All-NFL honors six straight years from 1965 through 1970 and was selected to eight Pro Bowls. Jones is an inaugural Black College Football Hall of Fame inductee (2010) and is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.


The HBCU Legacy Bowl, presented by the Black College Football Hall of Fame is a postseason all-star game that will showcase the top 100 NFL draft-eligible football players from Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The game will be played on the Saturday, February 19, 2022 (Yulman Stadium at Tulane University), and broadcast live on NFL Network. More than a football game, the week-long celebration of Black culture and history will provide invaluable exposure for HBCU students. HBCU Legacy Bowl founding partners include the NFL, adidas, Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes and his 15 and the Mahomies Foundation, Seattle Seahawks LB Bobby Wagner, Sugar Bowl, Pro Football Hall of Fame, Riddell and Tulane University

Follow us at and on social media via @HBCULegacyBowl


The Black College Football Hall of Fame was established in October of 2009 by African-American pioneers and quarterbacks, Pro Bowl MVP

James “Shack” Harris and Super Bowl MVP Doug Williams to preserve the history and honor the greatest football players, coaches and contributors from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). There have been 90 Inductees since inception, including Mel Blount, James Harris, Willie Lanier, Art Shell and Doug Williams, who serve as Trustees.