HBCU stars set for NFL draft

Howard University linebacker Keith Pough was the MEAC Defensive Player of the Year this past season and has a great chance of getting drafted. —PHOTO/HOWARD

When it comes to drafting quality football players, NFL teams should take a good look at some of the pro prospects from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). There are a number of HBCU standouts available at just about every position.

The NFL draft will be held April 25-27. It’s a good chance some of these players will be selected. However, some players may not get drafted, but they will likely sign with NFL teams as undrafted free agents. Thus, they will have an opportunity to play on Sundays.

Top Four HBCU Prospects

Keith Pough, linebacker, Howard, 6-3, 225 pounds

Pough is an outstanding linebacker. He was named to the Sheridan Broadcasting Network Black College All-American team. Pough was selected as the MEAC Defensive Player of the Year. He had a great week in front of the NFL scouts at the East-West Shrine Game and performed well at the NFL Combine.

Pough set a new FCS record for career tackles for losses with 71. He had 60 total, 34 solo tackles and 3.5 sacks last season.

Terron Armstead, offensive tackle, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, 6-5, 306 pounds

Armstead is one of the best at his position. He opened up a lot of eyes at the NFL Combine. He ran a 4.71 in the 40-yard dash, a Combine record for offensive linemen. Armstead played in the East-West Shrine Game and the Senior Bowl. He led Arkansas-Pine Bluff to the SWAC championship last season.

Rogers Gaines, offensive tackle, Tennessee State, 6-6, 334 pounds

Gaines is one of the best offensive linemen in the country. He’s a great run blocker. He knows how to pass protect. He can move his feet. Gaines ran a 5.24 in the 40 yard dash at the NFL Combine.

Brandon Hepburn, linebacker, Florida A&M, 6-2, 241 pounds

Hepburn did quite well at the NFL Combine. He clocked a 4.54 in the 40-yard dash. He was a terrific defensive player for the Rattlers. He had 86 total and 60 solo tackles with 5.5 sacks last season.

Best of the Rest

Offensive Players

Kameron Smith, quarterback, Winston-Salem State, 6-1, 187 pounds

Smith had a great year throwing the football. He threw for 3,312 yards while tossing an amazing 43 touchdown passes. He ran for 550 yards and scored five rushing touchdowns. He also led Winston-Salem State to a sensational 14-1 record before losing to Valdosta State in the NCAA Division II championship game.

Derrick Washington, running back, Tuskegee, 6-0, 200 pounds

Washington had a tremendous season. He rushed for 1,729 yards and scored 14 touchdowns. He averaged 7.8 yards a carry. Washington has great speed in the open field.

Daronte McNeil, running back, Elizabeth City State, 6-2, 200 pounds

McNeil runs with plenty of power and can explode through the holes. He rushed for 1, 344 yards on 316 carries while scoring 13 TDs. McNeil guided Elizabeth City State to a 28-13 win over Tuskegee in the Pioneer Bowl earning MVP honors.

Kaderius Lacey, running back, Alabama A&M, 6-0, 218 pounds

Lacey is a great inside runner. He’s capable of picking up the tough yards in short yardage situations. He rushed for 932 yards and scored eight TDs. He averaged 5.1 yards a carry.

Rico Richardson, wide receiver, Jackson State, 6-1, 185 pounds

Richardson was the best receiver in the SWAC. He has great speed. He can run the deep routes. Richardson had 50 receptions for 922 yards and scored eight TDs. He averaged 18.4 yards a reception.

Tyron Laughinghouse, return specialist/wide receiver, St. Augustine’s

Laughinghouse is one of the most exciting small college players in the nation. He’s a great receiver. He finished with 53 receptions for 801 yards and 12 TDs. But Laughinghouse led the country in kickoff returns in Division II. He aversaged 40.1 yards a return. He had three kickoff returns for touchdowns.

Stephen Capier, center, Jackson State, 6-2, 290 pounds

Capier is a great blocker. He moves laterally extremely well. He does a good job of staying with his blocks.

Zion Pratt, offensive tackle, Jackson State, 6-6, 290 pounds

Pratt has good speed and length. He keeps himself in good position. He can get out in front of the play. He’s a good pass blocker as well.

Terren Jones, offensive tackle, Alabama State, 6-7, 320 pounds

Jones is one of the best offensive linemen in the FCS. He knows how to open up big holes for the backs to have great running lanes.

Markus Lawrence, offensive tackle, Winston-Salem State, 6-4, 290 pounds

Lawrence was a big reason why Winston-Salem State has one of the best offenses in Division II. He provided good pass protection and open up some nice holes for the running game.

Jordan Moseley, offensive tackle, Johnson C. Smith, 6-3, 290 pounds

Moseley is a multi-talented offensive lineman. He played tackle and guard for Johnson C. Smith. His blocking skills helped the Golden Lions’ offense get into high gear last season.

Defensive Players

Brandon Thurmond, defensive lineman, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, 6-2, 260 pounds

Thurmond used his quickness and strength to become one of the best pass rushers in the FCS. He led the SWAC with 16.5 sacks. Thurmond has a great knack of getting to the quarterback.

Brad Davis, defensive lineman, Elizabeth City State, 6-1, 245 pounds

Davis received Division II All-American honors. It’s not hard to see why he had 15.5 sacks. He also played the run very well with 25.5 tackles for loss of 142 yards. He’s one of the most athletic linemen in the country.

Joseph LeBeau, defensive lineman, Jackson State, 6-1, 245 pounds

LeBeau was one of the top defensive players in the SWAC. He had eight sacks last season. LeBeau is a great pass rusher. He can play the run, too. He had 54 total and 33 solo tackles.

Tim Green, defensive end, Lincoln University, 6-1, 215 pounds

Green was an All-CIAA selection. He had a great season 78 total and 33 solo tackles. He had a chance to participate in the Temple Pro Day last month.

Maurice Bertrand, defensive lineman, Lincoln University, 6-2, 280 pounds

Bertrand has good size and strength. He knows how to swarm to the football. Bertrand played along side of Lincoln standout Tim Green.

Vauchard Goodridge, defensive lineman, Clark Atlanta, 6-1, 250 pounds

Goodridge was named co-Defensive Player of the Year in the SIAC with linebacker Leron Furr from Fort Valley State. He had 51 total tackles, two forced fumbles and 16 tackles for loss.

Bill Ross, linebacker, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, 6-2, 240 pounds

Ross led the SWAC in total tackles with 117. He had 63 solo tackles. Ross knows how to anticipate the run. He has a great understanding of how to play the game.

Leron Furr, linebacker, Fort Valley State, 6-1, 225 pounds

Furr is a real playmaking linebacker. He had 100 total tackles, 5.3 sacks and two interceptions.

Jakar Hamilton, defensive back, South Carolina State, 6-1, 200 pounds

Hamilton is a solid player in the secondary. He knows how to come up and stop the run. He had 40 total and 26 solo tackles last season.

Kejuan Riley, free safety, Alabama State, 6-1, 208 pounds

Riley is one of the best defensive players in the FCS. He covers a lot of ground in the secondary. He had four interceptions along with 55 total and 39 solo tackles last season.

Vernon Marshall, defensive back, Alabama A&M, 5-11, 188 pounds

Marshall is a real hitter. He’s a great open field tackler. He had 101 total and 50 solo tackles last year.

Contact staff writer Donald Hunt at (215) 893-5719 or dhunt@phillytrib.com.

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