Atlanta, GA (February 25, 2017) – North Carolina A&T senior running back Tarik Cohen has been selected as the inaugural recipient of the Black College Football Player of the Year Award. He was presented with the Deacon Jones Trophy, named in honor of the football legend and inaugural Black College Football Hall of Fame inductee. Black College Football Hall of Fame Co-Founders James "Shack" Harris and Doug Williams made the announcement during the Black College Football Hall of Fame Class of 2017 Induction Ceremony in Atlanta on Saturday night.
The Award recognizes the most outstanding football player from a Historically Black College & University (HBCU) that embodies the rich tradition of athletic excellence and integrity associated with HBCUs. Cohen helped lead the Aggies to a 9-2 regular season record and a berth in the FCS Playoffs. His 2016 campaign was a record-breaking one. He set a school record with 1,588 yards and 19 touchdowns on 212 carries, and earned All-America status.
He also rushed for over 200 yards in four different games. Headed to the NFL Combine next weekend, Cohen leaves college as the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference's alltime leading rusher with 5,619 yards and its first three-time Offensive Player of the Year. He was also the 2015 SBN Doug Williams Offensive Player of the Year. “On behalf of the Black College Football Hall of Fame Board of Directors, we congratulate Tarik on this historic accomplishment,” said Harris. “He truly represents the very best talent and character of HBCU football.” The Player of the Year was voted on by a five-member Selection Committee, which is composed of Black College Football Hall of Fame Co-Founders James “Shack” Harris and Doug Williams, Sheridan Broadcast Network’s Director of Sports Ty Miller, former USA Today sports writer Roscoe Nance, and ESPN College Football Analyst Jay Walker. “Even with defenses keying on Tarik, he still had one of the most prolific seasons for a running back in HBCU history,” Williams said. "Handing a young man of his caliber the inaugural Deacon Jones Trophy makes us proud."
Other Black College Football Player of the Year Award Finalists included QB Malcolm Bell (North Carolina Central University), QB DeVante Kincade (Grambling State University) and RB Lenard Tillery (Southern University).
ABOUT THE BLACK COLLEGE FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME The Black College Football Hall of Fame was established in October of 2009 by African-American pioneers and quarterbacks, Pro Bowl MVP James “Shack” Harris and Super Bowl MVP Doug Williams to preserve the history and honor the greatest football players, coaches and contributors from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). There have been 64 Inductees since inception, including Mel Blount, James Harris, Willie Lanier, Art Shell and Doug Williams, who serve as Trustees.
ABOUT DEACON JONES David “Deacon” Jones played defensive end for South Carolina State University and Mississippi Valley State University from 1958 to 1960. Blessed with speed, agility, and quickness, the “Deacon” became one of the finest pass rushers in the business. He won unanimous All-NFL honors six straight years from 1965 through 1970 and was selected to eight Pro Bowls. Jones is an inaugural Black College Football Hall of Fame inductee (2010) and is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.