As the dust settles from the hopes and over-exaggeration that comes with National Signing Day 2016, we here at HBCU Sports offer another glimpse at what happened to the Class 2012 — or this year’s senior class for those keeping score.

As done with the Southwestern Athletic Conference retrospective, we offer a chance to look back at Tennessee State’s 2012 group. Big Blue offers a unique chance to focus on the lone HBCU Division I football program that is not the SWAC or Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. The established ground rules remain the same, focusing on NSD and the schools’ announcements of those initial signings.  The number of the 2012 signees still on the roster in 2015 was counted, using those initial NSD lists along with the 2015 rosters provided by the league’s 10 schools. Win-loss records were compiled, making note of any coaching changes.


Tennessee State announced an 18-player class for its 2012 National Signing Day, seeking to make a splash in the Ohio Valley Conference in head coach Rod Reed’s third year in Nashville.

Some of those players, like juco offensive lineman Demetrius Rhaney, paid immediate dividends for the Tigers. Four years later, however, the majority of that 18-player class has either fallen by the wayside or exhausted their eligibility. Only three players in Big Blue’s signing class were on the 2015 roster — quarterback Ronald Butler, linebacker Antonio Justice Jr. and offensive lineman Kevin Kenton.

Five of the Tigers’ class were mid-year transfers, including Northern Illinois linebacker Greg Barksdale III and Rhaney, a transfer from Ellsworth Community College.

Rhaney paired with Kadeem Edwards (not part of the 2012 NSD class) to form a portion of arguably HBCU football’s best offensive line, a quintet that helped Big Blue win 18 of 27 games from 2012 to 2013.  Tennessee State finished 8-3 and in the middle of the OVC pack in 2012.  The Tigers finished 2013 second behind Eastern Illinois in the OVC, but earned an at-large bid for the Football Championship Division playoffs. Defensive transfers like Barksdale and juco defensive lineman Marquaveus Jackson became key cogs of Big Blue’s defense in those years.

Several key players began leaving Nashville after the 2013 season. Edwards and Rhaney were fifth- and seventh-round NFL draft picks, respectively. Barskdale and Jackson exhausted their eligibility and All-American defensive back Stephen Godbolt III (also not part of the 2012 NSD class) transferred to NAIA member Webber International.

The Tigers’ fortunes declined in the class’ last two seasons. Big Blue finished 6-6 in 2014 and 4-6 in 2015.

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No. of Signing Day signees: 18

No. of 2012 Signing Day signees listed 2015 roster: 3 (LB Antonio Justice Jr., OL Kevin Kenton, QB Ronald Butler)

Win/Loss record of class (2012-2015): 28-19; 0.595 winning percentage; one Black College National Championship; Football Championship Subdivision at-large playoff bid

  • 2012: 8-3
  • 2013: 10-4 (Black College National Championship; FCS playoff at-large bid; advanced to 2nd round of FCS playoffs)
  • 2014: 6-6
  • 2015: 4-6

Greg Barksdale III, LB (transfer from Northern Illinois)

2012: junior; started 11 games; 45 total tackles, tackles for loss, 1 sack
2013: senior; started 11 of 13 games played; 48 total tackles; 5.5 tackles for loss

Chris James Jr., CB (transfer from Atlanta Sports Academy)

2012: DNP (did not play)
2013: not listed on roster
2014: not listed on roster
2015: not listed on roster

Joe Johnson, FS (transfer from Marshall)

2012: played in three games; one total tackle
2013: not listed on roster

Demetrius Rhaney, OL (transfer from Ellsworth CC)

2012: started 11 games
2013: started 11 games (7th round pick in 2014 NFL Draft)

Darius Turner, CB (transfer from Arkansas State)

2012: DNP
2013: not listed on roster

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Signees

Willie Allen, WR
2012: not listed on roster
2013: not listed on roster
2014: not listed on roster
2015: not listed on roster

Maurice Box Jr., LB

2012: not listed on roster
2013: not listed on roster
2014: not listed on roster
2015: not listed on roster

Ricky Foster Jr., WR

2012: not listed on roster
2013: not listed on roster
2014: not listed on roster
2015: not listed on roster

Antonio ‘Tre’ Haynes, OL

2012: DNP (did not play)
2013: DNP
2014: not listed on roster
2015: not listed on roster

Antonio Justice Jr., LB

2012: DNP
2013: redshirt freshman, played in 14 games; seven total tackles
2014: redshirt sophomore; played in 12 games; three total tackles
2015: redshirt junior; started six of 10 games played; 18 total tackles, 3 TFLs

Jeremy Manning, CB

2012: DNP (did not play)
2013: not listed on roster
2014: not listed on roster
2015: not listed on roster

Kevin Kenton, OL

2012: DNP (did not play)
2013: redshirt freshman; played two games
2014: redshirt sophomore; started four of eight games
2015: redshirt junior, started all 10 games

Montrell Wood, OL

2012: DNP (did not play)
2013: played in one game; one total tackle
2014: DNP
2015: not listed on roster

Kilu Fontaine-Ellis, OL

2012: DNP (did not play)
2013: redshirt freshman; played in one game
2014: not listed on roster
2015: not listed on roster

Marquaveus Jackson, DE

2012: junior; played in nine games; four total tackles, 1 TFL, 1 sack
2013: senior; started one of 13 games played; 30 total tackles, six sacks

Lavatiae Kelly, WR

2012: DNP (did not play)
2013: redshirt freshman; started eight of 13 games played; 30 receptions, 360 yards, one TD
2014: not listed on roster
2015: not listed on roster

Jarvis Mott, LB

2012: DNP (did not play)
2013: not listed on roster
2014: not listed on roster
2015: not listed on roster

Ronald Butler, QB

2012: DNP (did not play)
2013: freshman; started eight of 14 games; 60 carries for 103 yards, 135-of-230 passing (58.7 percent), 1,405 yards, 13 TDs, 4 INTs, 125.18 efficiency
2014: sophomore; started two of six games; 28 carries for 29 yards, 40-of-77 passing (51.9 percent), 420 yards, 1 TD, 3 INTs, 94.3 efficiency rating
2015: junior; started three of eight games; 55 carries for 199 yards, 1 rushing TD, 62-of-115 passing (53.9 percent), 813 yards, 8 passing TDs, 7 INTs, 124.1 efficiency rating

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Special Contributor to HBCU Sports and a graduate of Southern University.

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