Highlighted by redshirt senior quarterback Felix “Triggerman” Harper, the Alcorn State University football team put six on the Southwestern Athletic Conference Spring Preseason Football Team Wednesday. The preseason team was voted on by the league’s head coaches and sports information directors and was announced during day one of the Cricket Wireless SWAC Football Virtual Media Days.
Joining Harper on the First Team list was senior defensive back Qwynnterrio Cole. Selected to the Second Team was sophomore running back Niko Duffey, senior offensive lineman Joseph Milburn, senior defensive lineman Chris Monroe and senior defensive back Juwan Taylor.
Alcorn went 9-4 last year and 6-1 in SWAC play, winning back-to-back SWAC titles after also going 9-4 and 6-1 in SWAC play in 2018, each year advancing to the Celebration Bowl.
Harper was recently featured in the Hero Sports Best Returning FCS Quarterbacks by Conference after taking home SWAC Offensive Player of the Year honors in 2019. This all came after Harper replaced the injured Noah Johnson, the SWAC’s Preseason Offensive Player of the Year, in the third game of the season at McNeese State.
For the season, Harper threw for 2,954 yards and 33 touchdowns, along with adding six rushing scores. He ranked fourth in the FCS in passing touchdowns, fifth in points responsible for (19.7 ppg), seventh in passing efficiency (160.7), eighth in yards per completion (14.5) and ninth in yards per pass attempt (8.7). Harper was one of four finalists for the HBCU Player of the Year award, along with being a finalist for the C Spire Conerly Trophy, which went to the best player in the state of Mississippi.
Harper took home three SWAC Offensive Player of the Week awards. He was named the HBCU National Player of the Week winner after the win over Prairie View A&M where he threw for 280 yards and two touchdowns and also rushed for a score. He also earned a helmet sticker on ESPN College Football Final after the win over Savannah State.
In the Celebration Bowl, Harper threw for 341 yards and three touchdowns and also rushed for two touchdowns. He helped Alcorn score 44 points on six touchdowns. Harper was named the Team MVP.
Harper had a touchdown pass in every game after taking over against McNeese State, throwing for multiple touchdowns in nine games with four or more touchdowns in a game occurring four different times. He passed for at least 250 yards in eight games, reaching a high of 396 yards against Mississippi Valley State, the same game he also reached a season-high six touchdown passes.
Cole became a two-time HBCU All-American and SWAC All-Conference First Team honoree in 2019. He led the defense with five interceptions on the year and was third in tackles with 86. Cole started in 12 games at safety, as his five interceptions ranked second in the SWAC. Cole wrapped-up 10 tackles in the SWAC Championship against Southern. He also had 10 tackles versus Alabama A&M. Cole registered two interceptions in the victory over Prairie View A&M. He also took home the team’s Spring Most Improved award from the defense in 2019.
Cole registered a tackle in every game, going for at least five in a game 11 times, reaching double-digits with 10 against both Alabama A&M and Southern. Cole collected two interceptions against Prairie View A&M and down the stretch, he had interceptions in three of the final six games. He also added a blocked kick at Jackson State and a forced fumble against Southern.
Duffey was recently featured in the Hero Sports Best Returning FCS Running Backs in the SWAC after putting together a true freshman season to remember in 2019 as he was named to the Hero Sports All-America Freshman Team after making his way into being the main back for the Braves and played in 12 total games. He ended up leading Alcorn in rushing at 838 yards and six touchdowns. Duffey rushed for at least 100 yards in four different games against Mississippi College, Alabama State, Grambling State and Alabama A&M. He tallied a season-high 138 yards to go along with two touchdowns against Mississippi College. Duffey had a season-high 67-yard touchdown run at Alabama State and also caught touchdown passes versus Mississippi College and McNeese State. He was a two-time SWAC Newcomer of the Week winner throughout the season.
The three-star recruit out of Jefferson High School in Tampa, Fla., finished fourth in the SWAC in rushing yards per game (69.8), fifth in total rushing yards (838), which was 54th nationally, seventh in all-purpose yards per game (92.50), seventh in rushing touchdowns (6), and eighth in rush yards per carry (5.17), which ranked 58th nationally. Duffey was part of a rushing attack that averaged 155.3 yards per game to finish 56th nationally.
Milburn helped anchor an offensive line at center, working his way into the starting roll during the 2019 season. He ended up starting nine games including both the SWAC Championship and the Celebration Bowl. The versatile offensive lineman also saw action at guard. Milburn helped lead an offense that ranked top-15 nationally in passing efficiency and top-25 in points per game at 33.6. He blocked for an offense that scored 44 points in the Celebration Bowl, which were the most it’s ever scored in a postseason bowl or playoff game. Alcorn finished with six touchdowns in the game.
Overall, Milburn and the offensive line helped power an offense that racked up 5,294 yards of offense and 57 total touchdowns. On the ground, the Braves rushed for 2,019 yards and 21 touchdowns, while through the air Alcorn passed for 3,275 yards and 34 touchdowns. Six times during the season Alcorn scored at least 40 points, scoring 45 points in three games which were all wins against Mississippi College, Prairie View A&M and Mississippi Valley State.
Monroe started all 13 games during the 2019 season at defensive tackle, finishing the season with 31 total tackles that included 15 solo stops. He also registered four tackles for loss and forced a fumble in the Celebration Bowl. Monroe recovered fumbles against Mississippi College and Savannah State. He was part of a defense that led the nation in turnovers gained with 36.
Monroe posted a tackle in 12 games, registering multiple tackles in 10 games with a high of six at McNeese State and added a pair of four tackle games against Mississippi College and Alabama A&M. He had a full tackle for loss in three games (Prairie View A&M, Alabama State and North Carolina A&T).
Taylor was named the 2019 SWAC Championship Defensive MVP. He matched his career-high 11 tackles and also came away with an interception, forced fumble and a tackle for loss in the victory. Overall on the season, Taylor led the team in tackles with 89 and recorded a pair of interceptions and forced fumbles. He wrapped up a team-high nine tackles in the Celebration Bowl. Taylor helped Alcorn lead the nation in both interceptions and turnovers gained. He collected at least 10 tackles in games against Alabama A&M, Prairie View A&M and Southern.
Taylor was named the SWAC Newcomer of the Week on Nov. 19, 2019, coming after he helped the Braves defeat Alabama A&M to win the SWAC East Division. Taylor shined with 10 tackles, an interception and a half-tackle for loss in the win. His interception came late in the third quarter as the Bulldogs were in the red zone and Taylor came up wit ha pick in the end zone.
Alcorn is set to open the spring season in late February at Alabama A&M on Feb. 27. The first home game will take place the following week on Mar. 6 against Alabama State.