It was near-impossible to get the 400+ photos down to 31 that I liked, and then down to just 1 to submit to class. I had it down to these 2, and had a lot of trouble picking between then because they are very different.
In the end I decided to send the first one - the skin tone seemed very sharp against the extreme-black background, and I liked the rim lighting and the lights in his eyes.
The one I didn't send (the 2nd one) is less of a close up, but had some interesting elements: the clock in the background, the hands on the table... it tells more of a story. This one I sent is more of a "pure" portrait, I suppose. I like the settings I had for the first one better, too.
This is the "winner"
This was the runner-up.