Check out our player preview to find out who to watch in this year’s MEAC / SWAC Challenge
By Will Dean
August 8, 2019
ATLANTA – With the MEAC / SWAC Challenge just 30 days away, we couldn’t be more excited about kicking off the HBCU football season. This year, the Jackson State Tigers take on the Bethune Cookman Wildcats in Atlanta for what should prove to be an epic showdown. This will be the seventh meeting between the two teams with Jackson State leading the series 4-2. However, a very strong Bethune Cookman team will be looking to half their deficit with this year’s game, after coming off a second place finish in the MEAC for the 2018 season. It is also worth noting that both teams’ bands were ranked among the top two in the country by The Undefeated.
But who are the faces of these historic programs and who will lead their team to glory in the 2019 MEAC / SWAC Challenge?
For the Jackson State Tigers, the offensive leader will no doubt be Jordon Johnson. Johnson was a key part of the team as a junior in 2018, rushing for 550 yards and averaging 5.5 yards per rush. He will be looking to leave his history of injuries behind and take on a leadership role in his senior season.
The defensive side of the ball for Jackson State will be lead by youthful prospect Keonte Hampton. The linebacker impressed in his rookie season earning HERO Sports Freshman All- American and making a team high 83 total tackles. Hampton looks poised to make it big in year two and avoid any potential sophomore slump.
The Bethune Cookman Wildcats are expected to rely on the experience of their seniors this season, with stalwarts Jimmie Robinson and Marques Ford leading the charge. Robinson has made quite a name for himself since securing a move from Mercer University after the 2015 season. Not only did he rack up a combined 744 yards on the ground and in the air but he also added three special teams touchdowns to his total of eight on offense. This level of versatility and productivity is going to be key for the Wildcats as they look to get in the red zone this season.
Defensively, Bethune Cookman have their field marshaled by defensive end Marques Ford. His 42 tackles and 8.5 sacks in 2018 were enough to secure his spot in the 1st Team All- Conference lineup and expectations remain high. Going into his senior season, Ford has also been named to the 2019 1st Team Preseason All-MEAC, so expect a lot from him in the weeks to come.
For more on these bright young prospects, take a look at our special player preview below…
Jordan Johnson – Running Back #17
Senior, Terry, Miss./Terry HS, 5-11, 205
Rushed for 550 yards
Averaged 5.5 yards per rush
Had 19 receptions for 80 yards
Scored three touchdowns
Played sparingly in final three games due to injury
Keonte Hampton – Linebacker #40
Sophomore, West Point, Miss./West Point HS, 6-2, 225
Earned HERO Sports Freshman All-American
Started and played in all 10 games
Team-high 40 solo tackles,
Team-high 43 assisted tackles for a team-high 83 tackles
Total of 10.5 tackles for loss
Preseason SWAC 2nd Team All Conference
Jimmie Robinson – RS/WR #1 (Previously #22)
Senior, Palm Coast, Fla./Flagler Palm Coast HS, 5-8,175
Rushing – 46 for 459 yards and 4 TD Receiving – 20 for 285 and 4 TD
KO Returns – 22 for 730 and 3 TD 2018 2nd Team All-MEAC RS
2018 FCS Stats All American RS
2019 1st Team All-MEAC RS
2019 FCS Stats Preseason All American RS
Marques Ford – Defensive End #48
Senior, Gibsonton, Fla. /East Bay HS, 6-4, 235
Tackles – 42 total, 10.5 TFL, 8.5 sacks, 1 fumble recovery
2018 1st Team All-MEAC
2018 Box to Row All-American
2019 1st Team Preseason All-MEAC