CIAA football: Blue Bears picked fifth in Southern Division

Published 2:56 am Saturday, July 22, 2023



 From the CIAA

SALEM, Va. – The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association  unveils the 2023 All-CIAA Preseason Football Team, as voted on by the CIAA Football Coaches Association and the Sports Information Directors Association, and the predicted order of finish as selected by the head football coaches. The preseason team and predicted order were both announced during the CIAA’s annual football media day.

The 2023 team features 18 returning players from the 2022 All-CIAA team, including seven first teamers, led by the CIAA leading rusher Jada Byers of Virginia Union and CIAA Offensive Rookie of the Year Isaiah Freeman of Lincoln (Pa.).

Byers led the conference in rushing with 1,920 yards on 284 carries and accounted for a league high 19 touchdowns. The Hammonton, NJ native led the Panthers with a whopping 174.5 yards per game and 6.8 per carry.

Freeman was Lincoln’s top passer last season, leading the Lions with 1.667 passing yards, completing 117 of 237 passes that included 13 touchdowns. Freeman ranked second on the team with 382 rushing yards on 86 carries.

For the fifth consecutive season, Fayetteville State and Bowie State were picked by league coaches to repeat as Southern Division and Northern Division champions, respectively. The 2022 CIAA Football Championship Game is slated for November 11 in Salem, Va.

Last year, the Broncos of Fayetteville State University and former CIAA institution Chowan University Hawks battled in an epic title game with Fayetteville State coming out on top with a thrilling 43-yard field goal as time expired to capture the 31-28 victory.

2023 Predicted Order of Finish

1. Fayetteville State

2. Bowie State

3. Virginia Union

4. Shaw

5. Virginia State

6. Johnson C. Smith

7. Winston-Salem State

8. Elizabeth City State

9. Bluefield State

10. Lincoln (Pa.)

11. Livingstone

12. St. Augustine’s

Northern Division

1. Bowie State   

2. Virginia Union

3. Virginia State        

4. Elizabeth City State        

5. Bluefield State    

6. Lincoln (Pa.)       

Southern Division

1. Fayetteville State    

2. Shaw            

3. Johnson C. Smith    

4. Winston-Salem State    

5. Livingstone        

6. St. Augustine’s


2023 Football All-CIAA Team – Preseason Team

Tight End

Kalen Carver, Virginia Union +

Offensive Linemen

Matthew Foster, Virginia State *

Tyler Fleming, Fayetteville State +

Michael Todd, Fayetteville State +

Queonte Hilliard, Shaw

Justin Meade, Virginia Union *

Wide Receivers

Brevin Caldwell, Johnson C. Smith *

Keshane Hinckley, Bowie State *


Isaiah Freeman, Lincoln (PA) + !

Running Backs

Jada Byers, Virginia Union *

Sidney Gibbs, Shaw +

Kick Returner

Larry Hackey, Virginia Union

Place Kicker

Brady Myers, Virginia Union * #

Defensive Linemen

Cameron Merrell, Fayetteville State +

Isaac Anderson, Virginia Union +

Armonii Burden, Virginia Union

Miqueal Pillow-Smiley, Virginia State +


Kentrell Caldwell, Fayetteville State +

Shamar Graham, Virginia Union

Lee Sales, St. Augustine’s

Defensive Backs

Willie Drew, Virginia State *

Jadon Carter, Bowie State

Jay Boyd, Shaw *

Eric Best, Lincoln (Pa.)

Punt Returner

Dennis Jones, St. Augustine’s


Devin Versteegen, Shaw +