CIAA Announces 2023 Preseason Football All-Conference Team and Predicted Order of Finish

By: The CIAA

SALEM, VIRGINIA– The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) unveils the 2023 All-CIAA Preseason Football Team, as voted on by the CIAA Football Coaches Association and the Sports Information Directors Association, and the predicted order of finish as selected by the head football coaches. The preseason team and predicted order were both announced during the CIAA’s annual football media day on Thursday.

The 2023 team features 18 returning players from the 2022 All-CIAA team, including seven first teamers, led by the CIAA leading rusher Jada Byers of Virginia Union and CIAA Offensive Rookie of the Year Isaiah Freeman of Lincoln (Pa.).

Byers led the conference in rushing with 1,920 yards on 284 carries and accounted for a league high 19 touchdowns. The Hammonton, NJ native led the Panthers with a whopping 174.5 yards per game and 6.8 per carry.

Freeman was Lincoln’s top passer last season, leading the Lions with 1.667 passing yards, completing 117 of 237 passes that included 13 touchdowns. Freeman ranked second on the team with 382 rushing yards on 86 carries.

For the fifth consecutive season, Fayetteville State and Bowie State were picked by league coaches to repeat as Southern Division and Northern Division champions, respectively. The 2022 CIAA Football Championship Game is slated for November 11 in Salem, VA (Salem Stadium). 

Last year, the Broncos of Fayetteville State University and former CIAA institution Chowan University Hawks battled in an epic title game with Fayetteville State coming out on top with a thrilling 43-yard field goal as time expired to capture the 31-28 victory.
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2023 Predicted Order of Finish 

1. Fayetteville State
2. Bowie State
3. Virginia Union
4. Shaw
5. Virginia State
6. Johnson C. Smith
7. Winston-Salem State
8. Elizabeth City State
9. Bluefield State
10. Lincoln (Pa.)
11. Livingstone
12. St. Augustine’s

Northern Division
1. Bowie State   
2. Virginia Union 
3. Virginia State        
4. Elizabeth City State        
5. Bluefield State    
6. Lincoln (Pa.)       

Southern Division
1. Fayetteville State    
2. Shaw            
3. Johnson C. Smith    
4. Winston-Salem State    
5. Livingstone        
6. St. Augustine’s 

2023 Football All-CIAA Team – Preseason Team

Tight End
Kalen Carver, Virginia Union +

Offensive Linemen
Matthew Foster, Virginia State *
Tyler Fleming, Fayetteville State +
Michael Todd, Fayetteville State +
Queonte Hilliard, Shaw
Justin Meade, Virginia Union *

Wide Receivers
Brevin Caldwell, Johnson C. Smith *
Keshane Hinckley, Bowie State *

Isaiah Freeman, Lincoln (PA) + !

Running Backs
Jada Byers, Virginia Union *
Sidney Gibbs, Shaw +

Kick Returner
Larry Hackey, Virginia Union

Place Kicker
Brady Myers, Virginia Union * #

Defensive Linemen
Cameron Merrell, Fayetteville State +
Isaac Anderson, Virginia Union +
Armonii Burden, Virginia Union
Miguel Pillow-Smiley, Virginia State +

Kentrell Caldwell, Fayetteville State +
Shamar Graham, Virginia Union
Lee Sales, St. Augustine’s

Defensive Backs
Willie Drew, Virginia State *
Jadon Carter, Bowie State
Jay Boyd, Shaw *
Eric Best, Lincoln (Pa.)

Punt Returner
Dennis Jones, St. Augustine’s

Devin Versteegen, Shaw +

* – Returning 2022 All-CIAA First Team selection 
+ – Returning 2022 All-CIAA Second Team selection 
# – Returning 2022 CIAA Special Teams Player of the Year 
!  – Returning 2022 CIAA Offensive Rookie of the Year 
$ – Returning 2022 CIAA Defensive Rookie of the Year