FAMU’s Vann, Morehouse’s Hendje star in HBCU Bowl

Leroy Vann’s 81-yard punt return for a touchdown was the highlight of the inaugural HBCU Bowl at the Cramton Bowl in Montgomery, Alabama Saturday.

The East squad, made up representatives from the MEAC and CIAA, defeated the West team from the SWAC and SIAC 26-21.

Florida A&M’s Vann earned Most Valuable Player honors for his performance. The NCAA’s record holder for career return touchdowns, he finished the day with four returns for 113 yards and one score.

“Coach (FAMU’s Joe Taylor) says that I’m a great returner because I’m fearless,” Vann said after the game. “I don’t call fair catch. I’ll take the hit first and try to make something happen.”

More than 3,000 fans braved wintry conditions to watch the West take the early lead when Alcorn State’s Tim Buckley hit Achille Hendje of Morehouse for a 24-yard air strike. Buckley later threw a 29-yard pass to Alabama A&M’s Thomas Harris for another score in the fourth quarter to help close a 12-point deficit.

The East took the lead for the first time, 19-14, w hen Norfolk State quarterback Dennis Brown tossed a 33-yard pass to Lamarcus Coker of Hampton. Devan James of Morgan State rushed in to the end zone from four yards out early in the fourth quarter to increase the East’s lead to 26-14.

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FAMU Senior LeRoy Vann takes a minute to reflect

Florida A&M University senior LeRoy Vann is a Two Time All-American.


Vann, a record-setting return man who garnered national attention this season through ESPN’s SportsCenter and on the pages of Sports Illustrated, again made first team on the Walter Camp Football Championship Subdivision All-America team, which was announced Wednesday.

“I almost can’t believe some of the things that have happened to me playing college football,” said Vann, a 5-foot-9, 185-pounder who plays cornerback.

Vann returned 28 punts for 462 yards (16.5-yard average) and three touchdowns. He also returned 38 kickoffs for 1,121 yards (29.5-yard average) and three touchdowns. Overall, Vann had 11 career touchdown returns (eight punt-return TDs to set an FSC record, plus three more scores on kickoff returns).

It’s hard to believe that Vann actually arrived at FAMU as a preferred walk-on player. “They thought I was too small,” Vann said. “I wasn’t the average size they were looking for. But I think it’s more than size. You’ve got to have no fear. You’ve got to play with heart.”