The inaugural Bluebloods HBCU Preseason Poll is here and will be updated weekly throughout the 2022 season. Only FCS HBCU programs will be included in the rankings. We will host a live reaction show to our rankings weekly to allow fans to call-in and give their thoughts on the rankings. Our first live stream reaction for our inaugural poll will be live tonight at 6pm/CT on our YouTube channel

Photo Cred: Norfolk State Athletics

10. Norfolk State

Norfolk State is entering the 2nd year of the Dawson Odums era after the Spartans finished 6-5 in the 2021 season. The number one question mark for the Spartans will be the quarterback position after MEAC Offensive Player of the Year Juwan Carter graduated this offseason. The offensive side of the ball does return leading rusher J.J. Davis and multiple impact wide receivers including Da’Quan Felton and Tremayne Talbert. Norfolk State returns most of their top contributors on the defensive side of the ball; including MEAC All-Americans Brandon Savage, Marquis Hall, Tyler Long, & Justin Toler. 

The schedule takes a turn for the worse in 2022 as the Spartans face Marshall, James Madison, Sacred Heart, North Carolina A&T, and South Carolina State on the road this season. The season for Norfolk State will begin against Marshall on September 3rd.

 

9. North Carolina Central

North Carolina Central is coming off a strong 6-5 season, in which the Eagles finished 2nd in the MEAC with a 4-1 conference record. The Eagles return multiple top contributors and are primed to challenge South Carolina State for the MEAC Championship in the 2022 season. QB Davius Richards returns after being selected as a MEAC All-American in 2021, while the Eagles also return their leading rusher from 2021 in Latrell Collier. The defensive side of the ball will return 8 of the Eagles Top-11 leading tacklers from last season, while being led by defensive linemen Jessie Malit and Tre Turner. 

The Eagles will have a brutal schedule in 2022 as they face South Carolina State, Campbell, New Hampshire, & Norfolk State on the road. North Carolina Central will open their 2022 season against North Carolina A&T in the Duke’s Mayo Classic in Charlotte on September 3rd. 

Photo Cred: Grambling State Athletics

8. Grambling State

The Hue Jackson era will begin at Grambling State in 2022 as the Tigers look to rebound from a tough 4-7 season last year. The offensive side of the football will look completely different in 2022 as the Tigers are expected to have new starters at almost every position after Jackson signed 21 new offensive players on National Signing Day. WR Tyson Bordeaux, OL Juwan Singletary, RB Maurice Washington, WR Ja’Ron Waters, & OL Romello Watson will all be impact additions for the revamped Grambling State offense. The defensive side of the ball returns a lot of talent, including SWAC All-American Sundiata Anderson who led the Tigers in sacks in 2021. Donte Starks, Devin Bush, & Cam Jones all are primed to be impact additions to the Grambling State defense in 2021.

The Tigers will open their season on September 3rd against Arkansas State. Grambling State will have to navigate multiple tough games; including matchups against Jackson State, Alabama A&M, Florida A&M, & Southern.

 

7. Alabama A&M

Alabama A&M finished 7-3 last season after winning their 2nd SWAC Championship in the spring season. The Bulldogs will have to replace 2X SWAC Offensive Player of the Year Aqeel Glass at the quarterback position, while also replacing All-American WR Dee Anderson who led the Bulldogs in receiving touchdowns in 2021. Quincy Casey looks primed to take over the QB1 position in Huntsville, but the Bulldogs also return SWAC All-Americans Gary Quarles and Abdul-Fatai Ibrahim on the offensive side of the ball. The defensive side of the ball will be completely revamped after Alabama A&M brought in 28 new defensive signees on National Signing Day. Marquez Beason, Carlos Becker, Zareon Hayes, & Eddie Watkins are some of the notable defensive additions for the Bulldogs this offseason.

Alabama A&M might have the toughest opening schedule in the FCS as the Bulldogs have three road games against Troy, UAB, & Florida A&M with a matchup against Austin Peay in Week 3. The Bulldogs open the season against Troy on September 1st in Birmingham, AL. 

Photo Cred: North Carolina A&T Athletics

6. North Carolina A&T

North Carolina A&T experienced some growing pains in their first season in the Big South, which saw the Aggies finish the 2021 season with a 6-5 record. The Aggies will have to replace All-American RB Jah-Maine Martin and Kashon Baker going into the 2022 season. QB Jalen Fowler returns, but will have to utilize a new core of weapons after WRs Ron Hunt and Korey Banks graduated this offseason. The defensive side of the ball will be the strength of this team in 2022 as Jacob Roberts, Jordan McDaniel, & Tyquan King all return to lead the defensive unit for the Aggies. 

The Aggies open their season in Charlotte against North Carolina Central before traveling to Fargo, ND to take on the 9-time FCS National Champions in North Dakota State. North Carolina A&T will be aiming for the Big South Championship in their final season before heading to the CAA beginning in the 2023 season

 

5. Southern

The Eric Dooley era will begin for the Jaguars in the 2022 season after a disappointing 4-7 season last year, which saw the Jaguars drop their last three games of the season. The offense will be revamped to fit the explosive Dooley offensive scheme as the Jaguars signed 12 new offensive weapons this offseason. The QB battle is the biggest storyline surrounding this program as BeSean McCray, Glendon McDaniel, & Noah Bodden will compete for the QB1 role in 2022. The offense returns Kobe Dillon, Dallas Black, Brian Williams, & Ethan Howard to add to the loaded recruiting class this offseason. The defense will be one of the best in the SWAC going into 2022 as the Jaguars landed SWAC All-American Jason Dumas, Southland All-American Corione Harris, & JUCO standout Trey Laing this offseason. 2020 Buck Buchanan Award winner Jordan Lewis will also headline the loaded defense for the Jaguars.

The Jaguars open the season against Florida Memorial on September 3rd before heading to take on LSU in Week 2. Southern will have to overcome tough matchups against Jackson State, Florida A&M, Grambling State, & Alcorn State if the Jags can claim their 1st SWAC championship since 2013.

 

4. South Carolina State

The 2021 Celebration Bowl champions are looking to repeat going into the 2022 season after they upset Jackson State as 10.5-point underdogs last season. The Bulldogs return almost the entire offense from the 2021 season and should be led by Celebration Bowl MVP Shaquan Davis, while QB Corey Fields Jr. and RB Kendrell Flowers also return on the offensive side of the ball. The defense lost major contributors in Decobie Durant, Zafir Kelly, & Chad Gilchrist this offseason; but the cupboard is not bare for the Bulldogs. MEAC All-Americans Jeblonski Green, B.J. Davis, Patrick Godbolt, & Octaveon Minter all return for the 2022 season.

South Carolina State opens the 2022 season with four straight road games against out of conference opponents, including Bethune-Cookman and North Carolina A&T. The Bulldogs will get their three toughest games down the stretch in Orangeburg against Florida A&M, North Carolina Central, & Norfolk State.

Photo Cred: Florida A&M Athletics

3. Florida A&M

Florida A&M was one point away from making the SWAC Championship in their 1st year in the conference after the Rattlers went 7-1 in conference play. The Rattlers only lost a few starters on the offensive side of the ball, but lost All-Americans Bishop Bonnett and Kennan Forbes this offseason. Resean McKay returns at the quarterback spot, but will battle Junior Muratovic and incoming transfer Jeremy Moussa for the QB1 spot in 2022. Terrell Jennings will take over the starting RB role, while the WR & TE spot is loaded after six of the top seven leading pass catchers return for the 2022 season. The defensive side of the ball will be led by 2021 Buck Buchanan Award winner Isaiah Land, but the Rattlers have to replace multiple impact players from the 2021 season. Gentle Hunt, Isaiah Majors, BJ Bohler, Jordan Moore, Kym-Mani King, & Devonte Wilson will be names to watch throughout the 2022 season for the Rattlers.

The Rattlers open their season on the road against North Carolina in Chapel Hill on August 27th. The road is going to be tough with games against Jackson State, Alabama A&M, South Carolina State, Grambling State, & Southern on the schedule for 2022. 

 

2. Tennessee State

Year 2 of the Eddie George era at Tennessee State will have much higher expectations than the 5-6 season last year for the Tigers. The Tigers have dominated the recruiting trail this offseason and should have Tennessee State primed to take a jump similar to Jackson State last season. Former All-American QB Draylen Ellis transferred from Austin Peay this offseason. The Tigers also return All-Americans RB Devon Starling, WR Zaire Thornton, WR Dayron Johnson, & OL Robert Lacey on the offensive side of the football. The Tennessee State defense also will return multiple key pieces and will be led by 1st Team All-American James Green at the linebacker spot. The Tigers also added multiple impact defensive transfers, including former 4-star LB K’Vaughn Pope, All-American DE Terrell Allen, & former Memphis DB Jashon Perkins. 

Tennessee State opens the season on the road against Big Sky contender Eastern Washington on September 3rd. The Tigers have a difficult road ahead as they face Jackson State, UT-Martin, Murray State, & Middle Tennessee State in the 2022 season. 

Photo Cred: Jackson State Athletics

1. Jackson State

The defending SWAC Champions take the #1 spot in this poll as head coach Deion Sanders looks to lead the Tigers to back-to-back SWAC titles for the first time since 1995-1996. The Tigers landed their 2nd straight #1 FCS recruiting class; headlined by 5-star CB Travis Hunter and 4-star WR Kevin Coleman. The offensive side of the ball will be lead by Jerry Rice Award winner Shedeur Sanders; who is primed to be a favorite for the Walter Payton Award in the 2022 season. The Tigers also landed MEAC All-American RB Sy’Veon Wilkerson this offseason while Malachi Wideman, Trevonte Rucker, & Shane Hooks all return at the wide receiver position. The defensive side of the ball has to replace All-Americans James Houston IV, Keonte Hampton, & Antwan Owens; but return top contributors De’Jahn Warren, Aubrey Miller Jr., Cam’Ron Craig-Silmon, Nyles Gaddy, & DeVonta Davis. 

Jackson State will open their season against Florida A&M in the Orange Blossom Classic in Miami, FL. The Tigers will have a tough road to repeat as SWAC champions as matchups against Grambling State, Tennessee State, Campbell, Southern, & Alabama A&M loom on the schedule. 

 

Honorable Mentions: Alcorn State, Texas Southern, Hampton, & Alabama State

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