For some time now, the knock on HBCU football was that the talent at Quarterback wasn’t as great. That will not be the case in 2019. The HBCU’s are loaded at the quarterback positions, with a mix of former 4-star power 5 D1 quarterbacks at various schools, 2019 for HBCU teams should be the year of the quarterback.
Deondre Francois, Hampton, Senior
The former 4-star prospect out of high school joins Hampton University after leaving Florida State this past season. Francois was seen as the heir apparent to the great Jamis Winston at the quarterback position. Francois came in as a very polished quarterback with the ability to win games with his arm more than his legs.
In his first year at FSU, he lead the seminoles to an Orange Bowl appearance against Michigan in which they beat the Wolverines in a classic match-up. The following season, Francois would suffer a season ending knee injury in the first game of the season against Alabama. That injury would go on to sidelined him for the year. Once that season ended and before he was back, his Head Coach, Jimbo Fisher, had departed for Texas A&M. Francois returned to a team and a program that was just beginning to go into rebuilding mode. In 2018, you could tell that FSU was falling on hard times by the lack of leadership. Francois would go on to leave the team after some off the field situations came up.
After spending much of the off-season in limbo, Francois has finally found a home in Hampton University. A prominent HBCU that play at the D1 FCS level. Hampton will join the Big South Conference this season. Francois should be a huge step up at the QB position. He has played and won against big time opponents. The only knock on Francois career is that he lost his QB and Head Coach the moment he got injured against Alabama.
De’Andre Johnson, Texas Southern, Senior
Out of all the quarterbacks on this list, De’Andre Johnson has probably had the most complicated journey of them all. A very talented quarterback out of Jacksonville, FL. Committed to Florida State out of high school, but never got the chance to play for the Noles. He was dismissed from the team due to an off the field situation. Johnson would later be seen on Last Chance U; a Netflix series that depicts the life at a Junior College Football program. Johnson would become a feature member of season 2 on the show.
Once Johnson graduated from EMCC, he spent 2 years at FAU sidelined. He was in the mix for the starting position at Florida Atlantic before a medical issue took him out of football. Now that he is healthy, Johnson is in prime position to lead Texas Southern in 2019.
Johnson is a hard worker that has limited experience in the last 2 years, but he has a leadership quality that you want in a quarterback.
Caylin Newton, Howard University, Junior
The little brother of the Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, Caylin Newton has become a guy to watch ever since his very first college football game. In that game, Caylin lead the Bison to the largest upset in college football history. At only 19, Caylin lead the Bison to a win over FBS opponent, UNLV. That propelled the young Newton reputation as a legit quarterback.
Over looked because he was only 5’11 coming out of high school, Caylin has been a force in the MEAC. Winning the MEAC 2017 Rookie Player of The Year and the MEAC Offensive Player of The Year in 2018. Newton threw for over 2,600 yards and 22 touchdowns in 2018. He even broke 400 yards against Ohio University, another FBS program. If Newton is able to match or exceed what he did in 2018 and cut down on the interceptions, then the Bison be in contention for the MEAC conference championship.
Geremy Hickbottom, Grambling State University, Junior
The leader of the Tigers comes in as a veteran redshirt junior who beat out an FBS transfer to win the starting job in 2018. Now with a year under his belt, Hickbottom will be expected to take a huge leap in 2019.
In 2018, Hickbottom was just shy of throwing for 2,000 yards. Hickbottom should hit that mark plus throw for more than 20 touchdowns. Hickbottom threw 9 interceptions last season, but being the starting QB for Grambling State means you must improve in the passing game. Hickbottom lead the Tigers in rushing last year as well. over 700 yards rushing and 8 touchdowns. Averaging 4.1 yards per carry last year. a true duel threat quarterback with an edge.
If the offensive line can hold up better in 2019 than they did in 2018, Hickbottom and the Tigers should be able to make a solid run for the Celebration bowl in Atlanta.
Noah Johnson, Alcorn State, Senior
The 2018 SWAC Offensive Player of The Year returns for his redshirt senior season. He lead the Alcorn State Braves to the Celebration Bowl in 2018 where the braves came up just shy of winning the HBCU National Title. Also in 2018, Noah was a finalist for the Walter Payton award and is on the watchlist for the award in 2019; an award given to the best player in the FCS.
Noah will be looking to complete the mission of last season and win the Celebration Bowl. In 2018, Noah threw for over 2,200 yards and 15 touchdowns, as well as, going for more than 1,100 yards on the ground and 11 touchdowns. Noah averaged 7.5 yards a carry and completed 62% of his throws. The Tampa, Florida native knows that all eyes will be on the Braves to get back to Atlanta and win it all.