College News & Analysis

Highest-graded players from FCS HBCUs in 2022

Florida A&M Rattlers wide receiver Xavier Smith (19) prepares for a play as FAMU faces Arkansas Pine-Bluff on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022 at Bragg Memorial Stadium. Famufb 01

• Morgan State CB Carlvainsky Decius: He comes in as the highest-graded FCS HBCU player after earning a 90.7 overall mark this season.

• Only three offensive players make the cut: QB Davius Richards, RB Bhayshul Tutten and WR Xavier Smith are among 12 defensive players.

Jackson State leads the way: Four Tigers players land in the top 15, led by former No. 1 overall recruit cornerback Travis Hunter.

Estimated Reading Time: 5 mins

As the 2022 FCS HBCU football season nears its conclusion, now is the time to reflect on the game-changing players who dominated the campaign.

Below are the 15 highest-graded FCS HBCU football players this year who played at least 200 snaps.

1. CB Carlvainsky Decius, Morgan State: 90.7 PFF Grade

In just seven games for Damon Wilson's Morgan State Bears, Decius achieved the highest FCS HBCU defensive grade of the season across 398 snaps. The sophomore cornerback forced six incompletions and tallied three interceptions while generating a 27.6 allowed passer rating across 38 targets. Decius finished the season surrendering only 153 pass yards and one touchdown.

2. EDGE Keshaun Moore, Hampton: 90.0 PFF Grade

Moore is one of the better run-defenders in the FCS, and he proved it weekly during the 2022 regular season. The second-team All-CAA selection finished with an elite 91.7 run-defense grade littered with stops (36), tackles for loss (13) and forced fumbles (two) in 11 games played. The senior edge defender completed his final collegiate campaign with 19.1% of his run-defense plays earning a positive grade.

3. QB Davius Richard, North Carolina Central: 88.1 PFF Grade

Richards has been the most productive dual-threat quarterback in FCS HBCU football by a substantial margin. His 78.9 passing grade is buoyed by 15 big-time throws and a 97.1 passer rating, while his 84.5 rushing grade stems from his 47 rushing first downs, 31 explosive run plays and 33 missed tackles forced. Across 691 snaps, Richards has scored 37 total touchdowns to spearhead a lethal North Carolina Central offensive attack.

4. RB Bhayshul Tuten, North Carolina A&T: 87.6 PFF Grade

Tuten has had an All-American-caliber season as the Aggies' RB1 thanks to a bevy of 100-yard rushing performances throughout his 2022 campaign. The Big South conference first-team selection dashed for an 89.9 rushing grade behind 62 rushing first downs, 42 explosive runs and 72 missed tackles forced. Tuten averaged a whopping 6.4 yards per carry and completed his sophomore campaign with nearly 1,400 yards on the ground (1,385) and 13 rushing touchdowns.

5. WR Xavier Smith, Florida A&M: 87.5 PFF Grade

“X-Man” became the SWAC's undisputed WR1 this year due to being the conference’s only 1,000-yard receiver. Smith snagged 91 of his team-high 130 targets and turned that into 26 explosive plays, 57 first-down receptions and a team-high 11 touchdown grabs. The graduate senior hauled in 89.2% of his catchable passes alongside averaging 11.8 yards per reception to complete an 88.5 receiving grade on the season.

6. CB Travis Hunter, Jackson State: 85. 8 PFF Grade

In just seven games, Travis Hunter showcased his defensive upside as a ball-hawking boundary cornerback. The reigning No. 1 overall recruit achieved an 86.4 coverage grade across 202 coverage snaps, recording eight forced incompletions, two interceptions and a 25.3 passer rating allowed.

7. S John Huggins, Jackson State: 85.2 PFF Grade

Huggins has been the Tigers' unsung hero on the backend, and his impact on tape is undeniable. The junior safety has tallied 11 stops and four tackles for loss in run defense while forcing two incompletions and securing an interception in coverage. Across nearly 300 snaps, Huggins has grades of at least 83.0 in run support (83.3) and pass defense (84.1) from his eight games this season.

8. LB Maurio Goings, Delaware State: 85.1 PFF Grade

Goings is an elite run-stopping linebacker and one of the faces of Delaware State's talented defensive front. The redshirt sophomore accumulated 29 stops, 13 tackles for loss and an 89.6 run-defense grade in 2022. The third-team all-conference defender finished with 22.1% of his run-defense plays earning a positive grade.

9. DI Troy James, Prairie View A&M: 84.9 PFF Grade

Troy James completed an underrated defensive lineman campaign that saw him accumulate 22 stops in the run game and 20 total pressures against opposing quarterbacks. Through nine games, James tallied a 13.7% pass-rushing win rate and 30.4% of his run-defense plays earned positive grades.

10. EDGE Jermaine McDaniel Jr., North Carolina A&T: 84.6 PFF Grade

McDaniel Jr. garnered Big Sky first-team honors because of his innate pass-rushing ability. The redshirt senior played in only six games but manufactured 30 total pressures during that span. His pass-rush win rate is an astounding 23.5%, and he finished the year with a 90.9 pass-rushing grade.

11. S David Laney, North Carolina A&T: 84.5 PFF Grade

Laney saw a substantial uptick in defensive snaps as the season progressed and eventually finished as one of the Aggies' better cover safeties. He forced four incompletions on just 10 targets into his coverage and notched an interception. Across 136 coverage snaps, Laney allowed just 30 receiving yards and one first down from four receptions.

12. EDGE Elijah Williams, Morgan State: 83.4 PFF Grade

Williams produced one of the more prolific all-around seasons as an FCS defensive end. The first-team all-conference performer totaled 38 total pressures across 370 pass-rushing snaps — 10 sacks, three hits, 25 quarterback hurries — en route to an 80.2 pass-rushing grade. In run defense, Williams accumulated 26 stops and 11 tackles for loss to finish with a 78.6 grade in that facet.

13. DI Jeremiah Williams, Jackson State: 83.0 PFF Grade

Williams is the highest-graded Jackson State defensive lineman this season despite being one of the more unheralded members of the unit. The true freshman accumulated 16 total pressures in 11 starts while amassing 12 run stops and three tackles for loss from a combined 288 defensive snaps.

14. LB Aubrey Miller, Jackson State: 82.9 PFF Grade

The reigning SWAC Defensive Player of The Year put together a banner senior season, highlighted by his run-defense and pass-rushing prowess. Miller collected 29 total run stops and six tackles for loss to pair with a forced fumble across 266 run-defense snaps. As a pass-rusher, Miller totaled 15 total pressures and six quarterback hits from 73 pass-rushing snaps, providing further proof of why he was invited to the Senior Bowl.

15. LB Brooks Parker, Delaware State: 82.7 PFF Grade

Parker's 86.6 run-defense grade is defined by his 11 tackles for loss and 18 run stops. The first-team all-conference selection recorded a run stop in all but two games this year while forcing two incompletions and registering an 81.8 coverage grade across 202 coverage snaps.

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