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Bears' Cohen, Colts' Leonard share NFL's top HBCU player award
A&T, SC State alums honored by Hall of Fame
 
Published Saturday, February 16, 2019 1:31 pm
by Herbert L. White | The Charlotte Post

PHOTO | CHICAGO BEARS
North Carolina A&T alumnus Tarik Cohen earned a spot in the Pro Bowl after accounting for 1,589 all-purpose yards and eight touchdowns in 2018.

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The NFL’s top players from historically black colleges have Carolinas roots.


North Carolina A&T’s Tarik Cohen and South Carolina State’s Darius Leonard shared the 2018 Black College Football Pro Player of the Year award given by the NFL Players Association. Cohen, a Chicago Bears running back/kick returner, accounted for 1,580 all-purpose yards and eight touchdowns in 2018, his second season as a professional. He earned first-team All-Pro honors as a return specialist and earned a Pro Bowl berth.

Leonard, an Indianapolis Colts linebacker, was NFL Rookie of the Year, earned a spot in the Pro Bowl and first-team All-Pro. Leonard tallied a league-high and Colts record 163 tackles (111 solo), eight passes defensed, seven sacks and an interception.

“We are extremely proud to have Tarik Cohen and Darius Leonard as this year’s recipients of this prestigious honor,” NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith said. “Their journey to this point and continued work on and off the field are a testament to the legacy and example set by the many great NFL players who came from HBCUs.”

Cohen and Leonard will be recognized at the Black College Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Feb. 16 in Atlanta. The 2019 class includes players Emerson Boozer Maryland Eastern Shore, Hugh Douglas (Central State), Rich “Tombstone” Jackson (Southern), Frank Lewis (Grambling State), Timmy Newsome (Winston-Salem State), John Taylor (Delaware State) and coach Arnett “Ace” Mumford (Southern).

The NFLPA and Black College Football Hall of Fame created the HBCU award, which is determined by a six-member committee. Last year’s inaugural winner was Howard alumnus Antoine Bethea of the Arizona Cardinals.

PHOTO | INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
South Carolina State alumnus Darius Leonard (53) was named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and earned first-team All-Pro after registering a Colts record 163 tackles, seven sacks and an interception.


 

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