Grambling seeks a repeat title
by Donal Ware
Current SWAC football title holders repeating as champions is nothing new. In 2015, Alcorn State repeated as champions.
But it’s been a while for the Grambling Tigers who many consider the most high profile program in HBCU football. The last time the Tigers repeated as champions was 2002, their third straight titles after winning in 2000 and 2001. The 2008 GSU champions had an opportunity to repeat, but did not.
The 2017 version of the Tigers has a real opportunity to do so, in part because the have one of the best quarterbacks in FCS in DeVante Kincade. Kincade completed 64 percent of his passes for 3,022 yards, 31 touchdowns and just four interceptions. He also rushed for 264 yards and four touchdowns. If he had not gotten injured against Arizona last year, with the Tigers leading the Wildcats 21-3 at halftime, we would be talking about the Wildcats beating a Pac-12 team and an undefeated season.
Kincade is going to be without fellow 2016 BOXTOROW All-American Chad Williams and his 90 catches for 1,337 yards and 11 touchdowns as Williams was drafted in the third round by the Arizona Cardinals. (The Cardinals must have really liked Williams when the Tigers played at Arizona as he had 13 catches for 152 yards.) But he will have Martez Carter as his running back. Carter is a homerun-hitting back who also catches the ball well. Carter averaged 7.7 yards per carry which was second in FCS, while totaling 891 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns. He also caught 28 passes for 376 yards and three touchdowns.
The Tigers defense also took a really big hit losing SWAC Defensive Player of the Year defensive lineman Donovan McCray in addition to losing the likes of linebacker Arkez Cooper and defensive back Guy Stallworth amongst others.
Could the losses on Grambling’s defense – which was really good last year – be an opening for other teams? Southern will have a pretty good defense this year and has an elite quarterback in Austin Howard. The Jaguars only SWAC loss last year was to Grambling. Prairie view A&M has been consistent in the two years Willie Simmons has been the head coach. Will this be the year the Panthers get over the hump?
And the Eastern Division? Forget about it. Alcorn State has been the Eastern Division champion for the last three years, but Alabama State, Jackson State and Alabama A&M all have game-changing players and could dethrown the Braves.
Below are our HBCU Football Daily Podcasts that preview all 10 SWAC teams. You can listen to the podcasts online or download them. Let us know what you think. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram and use #HBCU125 The podcasts are in order of how we think the teams will finish in respective divisions.