The last time most people saw HBCU football, North Carolina A&T was running up the scoreboard on Alcorn State.
That was December 2019, and nothing is the same in early 2021 — including North Carolina A&T and its football program.
Several key players from that 2019 team, as well as other A&T teams which won the MEAC and the Celebration Bowl, won’t be coming back out for spring 2021. A&T will have to replace quarterback Kylil Carter and wide receiver Elijah Bell, both who ended their college careers going out on top.
Speaking at the MEAC’s spring 2021 media day, head coach Sam Washington said he believes he has the pieces to replace those departures, as well as others.
“Player development is a big part of what we do,” Washington said. “I’m excited to see some of the young guys get out there and show what they can do.”
The Winds of Change
A&T didn’t just lose players to graduation or the NFL Draft. Offensive lineman Dante Keyes transferred when the MEAC decided against fall 2020 play. More recently, All-American defensive back Mac McCain decided to skip the spring in order to prepare for the NFL Draft.
Washington said that while he was sad to see his star leave, he thought it was the right decision for him.
“He has done everything that we’ve asked of him. He’s given his all,” Washington said. “The young man is leaving here with a masters degree and second major. He’s done everything in the classroom that can possibly be done.”
One huge piece of the puzzle that will be back, however, is running back Jah-Maine Martin. Martin announced earlier this month that he would be back for spring 2021. Washington was extremely pleased.
“That’s about like — my first born,” he said with a smile.
Of course, there have been some big additions coming to Greensboro. Former Virginia Tech defensive lineman Robert Porcher Jr. signed with the program last January. It also picked up Kawuan Cox, a former rival at North Carolina Central who Washington seems to be high on.