Updated: Jan 22
Since 1999, Grambling State University has claimed 8 SWAC Championship titles. For reference, that number is tied with the total number of SWAC Championships for the entire Eastern Division of the SWAC. The Western Division has claimed the SWAC title 13 times since 1999, 14 if you count Texas Southern's vacated crown in 2010. Over half of those victories can be claimed by Grambling State University. Grambling State took the time to remind the HBCU world via Twitter after Jackson State University's loss to South Carolina State in this year Celebration Bowl, that Grambling State University is also the only SWAC team to ever win the Cricket Celebration Bowl, with their win over North Carolina Central in 2016. For years, Grambling State University has had a seat at the head of the SWAC table. When Doug Williams was coaching the team from 2000 to 2003, Grambling State won the SWAC Championship 3 years in a row. Since 1999, no other school in the SWAC can make that claim. It must be extremely hard for the Grambling faithful to watch the Deion Sanders led Jackson State Tigers move to the head of the SWAC table. To that end, Grambling State has been on a mission this off-season to reclaim their SWAC throne.
On December 10th, Grambling made headlines with the hiring of former Raiders and Browns head coach, Hue Jackson. There were a few notable candidates for the job, including NFL Hall of Fame Safety Ed Reed, and Hall of Fame Linebacker Ray Lewis, but in the end Hue Jackson took the mantle as Grambling's next head coach. Since that time, Jackson has been on a tear to bring some of the best talent to Tiger Country. The NCAA transfer portal has allowed the HBCU landscape to run a little bit more like NFL free agency. While some believed that the transfer portal could hurt HBCUs, it has had the opposite effect in the first year as taking the "one-time" transfer has become a trend for unhappy college athletes. While FBS players were in the past allowed to transfer and play immediately at an FCS school, the limited options keep players on their teams. With the option to transfer to another FBS and not having to sit out a year, student athletes are entering the transfer portal at an alarming pace. The transfer portal has been flooded with talent this year and HBCUs are taking full advantage of the chance to recruit the newly available talent. For a former two-time NFL head coach, this "NFL Free-Agency Style" off-season, gives him a sense of familiarity as he looks to rebuild his roster.
On December 11th, Grambling posted via Twitter, "The Rebuild Begins Today", and since that time, Coach Jackson has been bringing in new talent and grabbing headlines nearly every week. One of the first major transfer portal acquisitions was former UCLA quarterback, 6'4 206lb Kajiya Hollawayne. Hollawayne has an incredibly strong arm and delivers long passes with accuracy. He is also a dual threat quarterback that is a problem to bring down in the open field. On film he shows an ability run pass, around, and through defenders. While Grambling QB, Elijah Walker ranked 17th in the SWAC in rushing, as a passer, outside of his Bayou Classic performance, he left a lot to be desired. Grambling was last in the SWAC in passing yards with 1362 yards passing with an average of 123.8 yards per game. A change may be ahead for Grambling at Quarterback and Hollawayne could be the guy.
Grambling also wanted to upgrade the other significant positions on their offense, and they did so with the additions of RB Maurice Washington, OT Wallace Unamba, WR Tyson Bordeaux, and WR JR Waters. Washington is a former 4-star recruit from the University of Nebraska. The 6-0, 175lb running back from California has had a troubled past, stemming from his time in Nebraska, which eventually led to his dismissal. However, Grambling athletic director Trayvean Scott said that since Washington has been attending Grambling State he has performed admirably academically and has been a model student athlete. If Maurice Washington can stay on the narrow path, he should be able to improve the SWAC 4th worst rushing attack. Coach Jackson went after "trees" on the outside with 6'5 wide receiver Tyson Bordeaux and 6'3 wide receiver JR Waters. Waters is a University of Oregon transfer that as the speed and catching ability to make life difficult for SWAC defensive backs. The 6'5 Tyson Bordeaux is not a transfer; he is a part of the 2022 Grambling recruiting class that is still taking shape. Bordeaux, another Grambling recruit from the West, hails from Long Beach Poly and plays with every bit of his 6'5 frame. With his frame and athleticism, He will be able to win a lot of contested opportunities.
Coach Jackson hasn't forgotten about the Tight end room or the offensive line either as Grambling has made several additions to the tight end spot and the offensive line including UNLV Transfer Tight End Noah Bean, and McNeese State Transfer Covadis "CJ" Knighten. On the offensive line, Coach Jackson brought in Tackle Wallace Unamba and offensive linemen Trey Brooks-Hawkins, Codie Hornsby, and JUCO transfer Jawaun Singletary.
Grambling State ranked 6th in Total Defense in the SWAC last season. By the end of the season Jackson State had double the total sacks (54) Grambling had during the season (27). Games like the 26-3 loss to Florida A&M and the 33 points given up to Arkansas Pine-Bluff really showed the need for improvement on the Grambling defense. To address these issues Coach Jackson has brought in some talent on the defensive line and in the secondary to restore the pride of the once feared Tigers defense.
Defensive Tackle Myron Green is one of the best JUCO Players in the country and ranks 36th on the ESPN's Top 50 JUCO list. At 6'5, 317 lbs, he has been recruited by Florida, Georgia, and Miami. His decision to go to Grambling State may have a huge impact on the Tigers Defense this season. In the secondary the Tigers have added elite talent in 4-star CB Cam'ron Jones, 6'2 Cornerback University of Cal Transfer Jaylen Martin, and 4-Star CB Devin Bush.
Bush committed to Southern University on January 18th, but by January 20th he turned in his powder blue and gold for black and gold, committing to Grambling State University. Devin Bush was ranked as the 13th overall player in Louisiana in his recruiting class, and the number 28th overall cornerback in the same class as LSU great CB Derek Stingley. Along with putting the proverbial knife in Southern University's back, acquiring Bush should help to improve the SWAC's 5th ranked passing defense.
Coach Hue and the Grambling State recruiting team are far from finished with this class as they are putting in a major push for Florida State recruit 3-Star wide receiver Leroy "Showtime" Paige, Alabama recruit 6'4 WR Phaison Wilson, and Louisiana's Top Running Back TreVonte' Citizen, along with others. It seems nearly every day on Twitter, Grambling State is breaking news about another recruit. As Coach Doug Williams said, "There has never been a ceiling for Grambling State". Coach Hue Jackson and his staff are looking to take back Grambling State's seat at the head of the SWAC table.
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