The Tennessee State Tigers continue to roll as they are now 4-0 on the season after their 34-30 win over UT Martin on Saturday. The last time the Tigers started 4-0 was in 2012 when they actually started the season 7-0, finishing 8-4.
The Tigers have had tremendous success under TSU alum Rod Reed in his seventh season at the helm of the program. Prior to becoming head coach, he began as the defensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator in 2003. There is no mistake why TSU is usually in the top five of the BOXTOROW FCS HBCU Recruiting Class rankings each year and has been No. 1 several years including this past year.
Speaking about the recruiting class, quarterback Ronald Butler was a part of TSU’s recruiting class in 2012 which we ranked No. 1. Butler has mostly been the No. 2 quarterback throughout his career at TSU but has played like a No. 1. When it was announced that starter O’Shay Ackerman-Carter would be out for the season with injury, the redshirt-senior just did what he’s always done at TSU – battle and be ready.
In the victory over UT Martin, Butler completed 17-of-24 passes for 233 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.
While the OVC has played solid football throughout its history, the last four or five years has seen the play of OVC football elevate. Remember, this is the conference that has produced the likes of Tony Romo, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Jimmy Garoppolo. New York Giants general manager Jerry Reese played at UT Martin. New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Peyton went to Eastern Illinois.
As the only Division I HBCU in a non-HBCU conference, TSU has been part of the elevation of OVC football beginning with the 2012 season and carrying over to the 2013 when the Tigers received an at-large berth to the FCS Playoffs and defeated Butler in the first round 30-0. The Tigers still have some tough games remaining beginning on the road with Eastern Illinois on Saturday, but is off to the great start as one of only two undefeated teams in HBCU football (Tuskegee).
McCrary throws for 456 yards in CAU win
Clark Atlanta quarterback Johnathon McCrary played huge in the Panthers 37-36 thrilling victory over rival Morehouse. McCrary completed 27-of-45 passes for 436 yards, five touchdowns and just one interception. Down 36-14 late in the third quarter, McCrary threw three touchdown passes over the next 15:00 including a nine-yarder to Trenton Earl to pull the Panthers to within 36-34 with 1:30 remaining. The aforementioned Earl recovered the onside kick and McCrary marched the Panthers down the field, allowing for kicker Carlos Saldana to attempt a 35-yard field goal which he made as time expired.
So who is Johnathon McCrary?
McCrary was recruited out of Cedar Grove High School in the Atlanta area to Vanderbilt by former head coach James Franklin in 2013. After a redshirt season, McCrary became the Commodores quarterback, starting 12 times in 17 games, throwing for 2,518 yards, 15 touchdowns and 20 interceptions. He lost his starting job last year to Kyle Shurmur. In his three years at Vanderbilt, McCrary had three different offensive coordinators.
McCrary graduated from Vanderbilt in three years (think about that) and prior to graduating announced he would leave the Vanderbilt program. He thought about enrolling at Mercer but ultimately chose Clark Atlanta where is father and uncle played football and are a part of the CAU Hall of Fame.
“I chose Clark Atlanta because it fit in terms of classes and geography,” said McCrary who is a junior on the field and is pursuing his graduate degree in School Counseling. “When I came to practice I could see the guys were talented and worked so hard; that’s something I wanted to be a part of.”
The first game of the season was tough for McCrary against Tuskegee as he completed just 3-of-7 passes for 27 yards and two interceptions. In his last two games he has completed 59 percent of his passes for 738 yards seven touchdowns and two interceptions.
CAU football has had quite a bit of turnover at the head coaching position and has been down the last nine or so years. With McCrary leading the way CAU has a legitimate shot at contending for the SIAC Eastern Division crown.
The Next Ted White?
Arkansas-Pine Bluff offensive coordinator and former Howard star Ted “Sweet Flight” White may be trying to clone his former football self.
White has taken UAPB redshirt-sophomore quarterback Brandon Duncan under his wing. Duncan is currently third in passing in FCS with 1,474 yards. He is also tied for third in FCS in touchdown to interception radio (8 to 1). Duncan has completed 129-of-201 passes (62.2 percent) and is averaging 294.8 yards passing per game. In the Golden Lions loss to Alabama State on Saturday, Duncan completed 29-of-38 passes for 380 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.
Duncan was named BOXTOROW National Player of the Week earlier in the season after completing 29-of-52 passes for 505 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions in UAPB’s 45-43 three-overtime victory over Alcorn State.
Duncan is similar to White in terms of height (Duncan is listed at 6-3, White at 6-4). Neither one is particularly fleet of foot. Both had solid redshirt-freshman campaigns with Duncan completing 54 percent of his passes for 1,027 yards, eight touchdowns and eight interceptions.
Duncan was sharing time last year. This year after a full year with White, Duncan is the undisputed starter. As a redshirt-sophomore, White threw for 2,814 yards, 36 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Duncan projects to throw for over 3,000 yards this season and while the projections say he won’t throw 36 touchdowns, his touchdown to interception ratio projects to be better than his coach’s was.
White finished his career at Howard with 9,845 total yards which at the time was the MEAC record for total yards in a career. Later, that record was broken by another White disciple, Greg McGhee. White still holds the MEAC record for most passing touchdowns (92).
It is hard and entirely too early to really compare Duncan with White. But with White as his coach, the sky is the limit for Duncan.