The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association released its football preseason team poll and all-conference team Thursday.

Chowan University was predicted to finish third overall in the conference and second in the CIAA North Division.

Elizabeth City State University was predicted to finish seventh overall in the conference and fifth in the six-team CIAA North Division.

Bowie State was predicted to win the conference and the CIAA North Division. The Bulldogs were the unanimous choice by league coaches to win the championship this upcoming fall.

Fayetteville State was picked to finish second in the league and first in the six-team CIAA South Division.

Bowie State won the CIAA championship in 2019.

The CIAA did not have a football season during the 2020-21 academic year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

CIAA predicted order of finish: 1. Bowie State, 2. Fayetteville State, 3. Chowan, 4. Virginia State, 5. Virginia Union, 6. Shaw, 7. Elizabeth City State, 8. Johnson C. Smith, 9. Winston-Salem State, 10. Lincoln (Pa.), 11. Livingstone, 12. Saint Augustine’s.

CIAA North Division predicted order of finish: 1. Bowie State, 2. Chowan, 3. Virginia State, 4. Virginia Union, 5. Elizabeth City State, 6. Lincoln (Pa.).

CIAA South Division predicted order of finish: 1. Fayetteville State, 2. Shaw, 3. Johnson C. Smith, 4. Winston-Salem State, 5. Livingstone, 6. Saint Augustine’s.


Chowan and ECSU had athletes named to the CIAA Preseason All-Conference team.

Chowan: David Keck (offensive lineman), Imeek Watkins (wide receiver), Deshaun Wethington (running back); Elizabeth City State: Zion Riddick (kick returner).

The scheduled question and answer portion of the media day between media and coaches was canceled by the league due to “unforeseen circumstances.”

The CIAA noted it will post additional video from the media day online at



DALLAS, Texas — East Carolina freshman Rahjai Harris is one of 82 running backs named to the 2021 Doak Walker Award Preseason Watch List according to an announcement by the PwC SMU Athletic Forum Wednesday. The Forum annually presents the award to the nation’s top running back.

Harris, who was a preseason First-Team All-American Athletic Conference selection by Phil Steele Magazine, rushed for 624 yards with four touchdowns in eight games during the 2020 season to earn AAC Rookie-of-the-Year and first-team all-conference accolades. He averaged 4.9 yards per carry and stood third in The American in rushing yards per game (78.0).

A native of Duncan, S.C., Harris ran for 100-plus yards in three consecutive games (115/USF, 172/Navy, 118/Tulsa), becoming the first Pirate running back since Tay Cooper (2012) to reach that milestone. His 172 yards against the Midshipmen were the most in an ECU game since Breon Allen racked up 211 against North Carolina in 2014, and it was the second-highest ever turned in by an East Carolina freshman, following Scott Harley’s 175-yard outing against Temple in 1995. Harris also caught six passes out of the backfield for 31 yards and one score.

East Carolina University athletics