The Black College Football Hall of Fame released its watch list for its Player of the Year award on Wednesday, and the list includes two players from schools in Atlanta.
Johnathon McCrary of Clark Atlanta University and David Smith of Morehouse College were featured on the list among the 50 names from HBCU football teams.
At the end of the 2017 college football season, the winner of the award will be honored with the Deacon Jones trophy at the Black College Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Feb. 10, 2018 in Atlanta. The late Jones — credited with creating the phrase “sacking the quarterback” — played his college football at Mississippi Valley State University before playing in the NFL where he was twice named Defensive Player of the Year.
The award in Jones’ name was started last year, and former North Carolina A&T running back Tarik Cohen won the inaugural award. He now plays for the Chicago Bears.
“This is a way to recognize the tremendous talent in HBCU football today,” said Doug Williams, a Super Bowl MVP, a BCFHOF co-founder and a 2011 inductee. “Through this award, the Black College Football Hall of Fame is proud to showcase outstanding student-athletes.”
McCrary is a senior quarterback for the Clark Atlanta Panthers, who went 5-5 last season. The 6-foot-5 Decatur native threw 14 touchdowns last season and rushed for three more. McCrary and the Panthers open this season at home against Mississippi College at 7 p.m. on Aug. 31.
Smith, a Newport News, Virginia native, is a senior linebacker for the Morehouse Maroon Tigers. At 6-foot-1, Smith led Morehouse in tackles last season with 64. He also forced and recovered three fumbles and registered 7.5 sacks as Morehouse finished 2016 with a 3-7 record.
The Maroon Tigers open the season on the road at the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Sept. 2 at 6 p.m. Their annual game against the Clark Atlanta Panthers is set for Nov. 4 at 2 p.m. at B. T. Harvey Stadium.