NORFOLK, Va. — Norfolk State quarterback Juwan Carter was voted as the preseason MEAC Offensive Player of the Year and leads a list of 14 Spartans who were named to the preseason All-MEAC teams, the conference announced on Friday.

South Carolina State defensive back Decobie Durant was named the league preseason defensive player of the year.

NSU was picked to finish second in the preseason poll of conference head coaches and sports information directors, trailing only South Carolina State.

Carter was one of 12 Spartans earning preseason first-team All-MEAC honors. He was joined on the first-team offense by running back Kevin Johnson, receiver Da’Kendall James, tight end Shawn McFarland and linemen Justin Redd and Jalen Powell. Others who were named to the first team include defensive linemen De’Shaan Dixon, Tavien Blackwell and Chris Myers, defensive back Devyn Coles, punter Ryan Richter and kicker Josh Nardone.

Receiver Justin Smith and defensive back Brandon Savage were voted to the second team.

Carter earned second-team All-MEAC honors in 2019 after leading the conference with 2,632 passing yards, 2,856 yards of total offense and a 60.6 completion percentage. His 23 touchdowns were the most by a Spartan quarterback in the Division I era.

Johnson was a third-team All-MEAC pick after scoring 11 touchdowns as a freshman in 2019. He led NSU with 468 rushing yards and eight touchdowns, and also caught 13 passes for 200 yards and three more scores. Johnson ranked fourth in the MEAC in scoring and eighth in all-purpose yards (959).

James led a deep NSU receiving corps with 37 catches two seasons ago. His 557 receiving yards and four touchdown catches were second-most on the team. He also posted three 100-yard receiving games while ranking among the MEAC’s top 10 in receptions and yards.

McFarland caught 15 passes for 169 yards and one touchdown while earning All-MEAC first-team honors in 2019. He served as a key blocker for NSU’s offense and also made an impact on special teams, making 12 tackles on coverage units.

Redd and Powell anchor NSU’s offensive line. Redd was a second-team All-MEAC selection after starting all 12 games at right guard in 2019. Powell was voted to the All-MEAC third team in 2019 after starting twice at center and 10 times at left guard. The pair were part of an offense which set a new NSU single-season Division I scoring record, at 28.9 points per game.

Myers and Dixon were both third-team All-MEAC picks in 2019. The two bookend defensive ends combined for 13.5 sacks in 2019, with Myers tied for the MEAC lead with 9.0. Dixon also amassed 61 total tackles that season and deflected three passes.

Blackwell was also a key cog on NSU’s defensive front, starting all 12 games at nose guard. He finished the 2019 campaign with 32 tackles, 7.5 for loss, and 3.5 sacks.

Coles tied for the MEAC lead with five interceptions as a true freshman two seasons ago. He was named to Phil Steele Magazine’s FCS Freshman All-America fourth team after recording 38 tackles and six pass breakups.


Richter earned third-team All-MEAC accolades in 2019 after ranking third in the MEAC in punting average, at 39.7 yards per attempt. That ranks as the fourth-best single-season average in school history.

Nardone made 9 of his 11 field goal attempts and 40-of-43 extra point tries for a season total of 67 points in 2019. He ranked ninth among all players and third among kickers in the MEAC in scoring, at 5.6 points per game. He also ranked third in PAT percentage (93.0) and fifth in field goals per game (0.75).

Smith caught 36 passes for a team-high 639 yards and six touchdowns two seasons ago. He had two 100-yard receiving games. In MEAC-only games, Smith tied for third in the conference in receiving touchdowns (six) and was fifth in receiving yards (519, 64.9 ypg).

Savage totaled 60 tackles, two interceptions and four pass deflections in 2019. He also forced and recovered one fumble and started all 12 games at one cornerback position.

South Carolina State received five first-place votes and was chosen as the preseason MEAC favorite. NSU was in second with two first-place votes. North Carolina Central, Delaware State, Morgan State and Howard rounded out the poll.

Predicted order of finish: 1. South Carolina State, 2. Norfolk State, 3. North Carolina Central, 4. Delaware State, 5. Morgan State, 6. Howard.

HOW TO WATCH

The Norfolk State football team will have 10 of its 11 football games this fall broadcast on one of the ESPN family of networks.

NSU’s non-conference game at Toledo to open the season will be broadcast on ESPN3, and the week two matchup at Wake Forest will be broadcast on ACC Network Extra. The Spartans’ road game at Hampton in the Battle of the Bay on Oct. 2 can be viewed on ESPN+.

The Spartans’ four home games – vs. Elizabeth City State (Sept. 18), Virginia-Lynchburg (Oct. 16), Morgan State (Oct. 30) and South Carolina State (Nov. 20) – as well as the road conference games at Howard (Oct. 23), North Carolina Central (Nov. 6) and Delaware State (Nov. 13) will all be broadcast at minimum on either ESPN3 or ESPN+.

In addition, games with Howard, NCCU and South Carolina State may be chosen for re-broadcast on ESPNU later as part of the as part of the MEAC’s yearly TV agreement with ESPN. Final network designations will be made in the weeks leading up to each game.

NSU’s non-conference game at St. Francis (Pa.) will be streamed on the Northeast Conference Front Row Network.