Sadly, the 2018 college football season came to an end last week but there were a few moves made, and one that has oddly enough yet to be made, this past week that will affect the 2019 black college football season, mainly in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
On Saturday, arguably the best defensive player in black college football has decided to leave school early.
North Carolina A&T defensive end Darryl Johnson, Jr., the 2018 MEAC defensive player of the year, announced his intention to pursue an NFL career on his Instagram page:
“I would like to thank NC A&T for all the great memories. Going 22-2 the last two years and winning Back to Back National Championships and being a part(sic) of three National Championships are great memories. I would like to thank all my professors, coaches and advisors for all their(sic) support. Most of all I would like to thank my family, for there love and care over the years. As I venture out to my new journey in the NFL I want to acknowledge and pause and say thank you God for the talent and blessings you have given to me,” Johnson wrote in his post.
Johnson, the first Aggie to win MEAC defensive player of the year since Chris McNeil won the award in 1997, ranked eighth in the nation in sacks (10.5) and ninth in tackles for loss (18.5).
Along with being named the best defensive player in the MEAC, Johnson was also a candidate for the FCS Defensive Player of the Year (Buck Buchanan Award presented by FCS STATS), is still a candidate for Black College Football Player of the Year (Deacon Jones Trophy presented by the Black College Football Hall of Fame), and is a two-time National Black College Football Champion.
Johnson (6-5, 232 pounds, R-JR, Kingsland, Ga) will look to follow in the footsteps of previous MEAC DPOY. 2013 winner Joe Thomas is currently a linebacker with the Dallas Cowboys, Javon Hargrave (2014, 2015) is the starting nose tackle with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Darius Leonard (2016, 2017) is and all-pro linebacker with the Indianapolis Colts, with Hargrave and Leonard both being selected in the NFL Draft.
All three just happen to be alums of S.C. State.
Speaking of the Bulldogs, S.C. State finally announced last Tuesday that Oliver 'Buddy' Pough will return as head football coach in 2019 with the two sides working on a longer-term contract extension.
According to the South Carolina State athletic department’s website, Athletics Director Stacy Danley said he was impressed with how a very young Bulldogs team finished the season under Buddy's guidance. The Bulldogs finished last season with a 5-6 record but won four of their last five games and, with an “if” here and there, could have ended the year in a four-way tie for the conference championship.
Pough has a chance in 2019 to become the all-time winningest coach in S.C. State history, needing only four wins to surpass coaching legend Willie Jeffries.
Speaking of head coaches, Ernest T. Jones, who led the Bears to a 4-7 record last season, has yet to have the interim tag removed from his title.
It has been two months since Morgan State’s Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Edward Scott announced that a national search for a permanent head coach had begun. As of January 14, Morgan State and Lehigh (PA) are the only programs on the FCS level that have yet to name a new head coach, just weeks away from National Signing Day on February 6.
Even without a permanent head coach, the Bears were still able to sign 19 players during the early National Signing Day period.