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For the second consecutive year, Miles has representation on the Black College Football Hall of Fame Player of the Year Watch List.
Linebacker Austin Stephens and wide receiver Leonard Tyree were two of 48 players named to the initial list of players vying for the Deacon Jones Player of the Year Award. The award is presented annually to the most outstanding football player from a Historically Black College & University. The winner of the 2019 Black College Football Player of the Year Award will be honored with the Deacon Jones Trophy during the Black College Football Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, which takes place on Feb. 15, 2020 in Atlanta. Four finalists will be unveiled on Dec. 3.
"This is an outstanding honor for our players and our program to earn recognition on the national stage," said head coach Reginald Ruffin. "It would be quite an accomplishment for either one of our players to win the award at the end of the season, but there is a lot of work to be done between now and then. But I think our guys are up to the task."
The Watch List candidates have been selected based on past performance and future potential, and additions to the list may be made as the 2019 season progresses. The finalists and the winner will be chosen by a Selection Committee.
"The Deacon Jones Trophy is the most coveted individual award a football player from an HBCU can receive," said BCFHOF co-founder and 2012 inductee James Harris. "I enjoy monitoring the progress of these young men throughout the season."
Last season, Stephens - a senior from Munford, Ala. - was named a Division II All-American and SIAC Defensive Player of the Year after leading the league in total tackles (120), which was tied for ninth in Division II. He had 14.5 tackles for loss, one sack, an interception and a fumble he recovered and returned for a touchdown. He also earned one SIAC Defensive Player of the Week award. Thus far in 2019, he has been named Preseason Defensive Player of the Year in the SIAC and has made multiple Preseason All-America teams.
Tyree, a senior from Tuscaloosa, Ala., was an All-SIAC First Team pick last season after catching 35 passes for 632 yards and nine touchdowns. He had the winning touchdown grabs in the final seconds of games against Kentucky State and Tuskegee that helped deliver the Western Division title to Miles. He is a 2019 Preseason All-SIAC First Team selection.
The Golden Bears will open their season on Sept. 7 when they travel to face Fort Valley State.