(Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame press release)
Presented to the nation’s best defensive back in HBCU Division I college football
OKLAHOMA CITY – Khalil Baker of North Carolina Central University has been named the inaugural Aeneas Williams Award winner. The award is given to the nation’s best defensive back in HBCU Division I college football on behalf of the award’s namesake, Aeneas Williams, and Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame.
Baker was a standout athlete at East Forsyth High School just outside Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Baker was a two-time all-conference and all-county selection, as well as a two-time sportsmanship award recipient while at East Forsyth. He also served as team captain of the 2018 state championship team before attending North Carolina Central University (NCCU).
As a freshman at NCCU, Baker appeared in three games as a defensive back recording one tackle. He received more playing time as a sophomore, when he appeared in 11 games and finished the 2021 season with 16 tackles and two passes defended.
Baker became a dominate force on the field as a junior. He won the inaugural Aeneas Williams Award, given to the nation’s best defensive back in HBCU Division I college football. He made more history by becoming the first NCCU Eagle to earn Associated Press FCS All-America First Team honors. Baker was named the 2022 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Defensive Player of the Year. He led the Eagles to the 2022 MEAC Championship with 61 tackles, 43 solo, nine passes defended and four interceptions. Baker capped the year by registering a team-high 10 tackles to earn the 2022 Celebration Bowl Defensive MVP award, as the Eagles defeated No. 5 Jackson State in overtime to capture the HBCU national championship title.
Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame will honor Baker at the 37th Anniversary of the Paycom Jim Thorpe Award Banquet, also celebrating the inaugural Aeneas Williams Award on Feb. 7, 2023, in Oklahoma City.
For ticketing and advertising information regarding the upcoming banquet, visit https://oklahomasportshalloffame.org/events
The Aeneas Williams Award is awarded to the best defensive back in Historically Black Colleges and Universities Division I college football based on performance on the field, athletic ability and character. This award will serve as the first of its kind in HBCU history in honor of its namesake, Southern University walk-on and Pro Football Hall of Famer Aeneas Williams. The contribution of HBCUs to the landscape of college football and the NFL has forever left an impact on the game. HBCUs hold an incredibly rich athletic tradition, tied to the game of football, that continues to exemplify the culture of these schools for over the past century.
The Paycom Jim Thorpe Award is awarded to the best defensive back in college football based on performance on the field, athletic ability and character. The award was established in 1986 and is named after history’s greatest all-around athlete, Jim Thorpe. Thorpe excelled as a running back, passer and kicker on the offensive side of the ball, but also stood out as a defensive back. In addition to his legendary performance on the football field, Thorpe played professional baseball and won Olympic gold medals in the decathlon and pentathlon. The Paycom Jim Thorpe Award is universally accepted as one of the nation’s top collegiate sports honors.