HERO Sports welcomes you to "Three-a-Days" where we will preview every single one of the 126 FCS programs from June 17 to August 6. Then, we'll preview all 13 conferences from August 12-15. Today, we present … William & Mary.
We'll leave no stone left unturned when it comes to giving the FCS diehards all they could ask for this offseason. Learn about every program in the country with HERO Sports.
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WILLIAM & MARY (4-6 IN 2018)
CAA (W&M was 12th in 2018)
COACH: Mike London – At School: 1st year Overall: 11th year (62-61)
LAST FCS POSTSEASON: 2015 (second round)
2018 OFFENSE: 13.6 ypg. (121st in FCS)
2018 DEFENSE: 26.2 ppg. (47th in FCS)
KEY GAME: Oct. 5 vs. Villanova: Last year, William & Mary knocked off Villanova. Can the Tribe do it again in a game between two teams that desperately want to turn around the fortunes of the past two seasons?
SUM IT UP: This season marks the 10-year anniversary of the William & Mary team that went 11-3, made the FCS semifinals (missing the national title game by one point) and also beat the ACC's Virginia. The bottom line? This is traditionally a strong program, and the three straight seasons of struggles since winning the CAA in 2015 aren't good indicators of how good this program was under coaching legend Jimmye Laycock, who retired after last season. Enter new coach Mike London, who has had major success at the FCS level at both Richmond and Howard, and was also the coach at Virginia several years ago. There's a buzz about what is going to happen next.
There's no question an answer needs to be found on offense after the Tribe posted some of the lowest numbers in the FCS in 2018. But there are bright spots like QB Shon Mitchell, the first true freshman to start for this program since 1975. Mitchell was highly-coveted coming out of high school — originally holding a Virginia Tech offer — and he has four of his five starting linemen back. The key here is to have some skill players step up.
On defense, this program actually had some special moments, and the win over eventual FCS semifinalist Maine proved it. In the season finale against Richmond, nine of the 11 defensive starters were underclassmen, so one has to think this unit should be rather strong in 2019.
OUR TAKE: William & Mary will be one of those darkhorse candidates to be a big factor in the CAA. Let's face it, they did knock off FCS semifinalist Maine last year, as well as a stronger-than-its-record-looked Villanova team. Look for this defense to continue to be tough, as many CAA teams are, as well as the offense to improve (assuming some skill talent emerges). We think this program could be around the middle of the pack in the CAA as it continues to rebuild and could hit the .500 mark for the season as well. That would be a welcome sight after six victories combined the past two seasons. In all, this feels like a "trending upwards" situation.
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COUNTDOWN: The Best Player in FCS Who Wears Each Number, 1-99
TOP RETURNEE: Sr./DB Isaiah Laster (4 INTs, 65 tackles)
THE FOUNDATION: Sr./DL Bill Murray (9.5 TFLs, 48 tackles); Sr./DB Corey Parker (10 passes defensed, 42 tackles); Sr./FB Tyler Crist (3rd Team All CAA 2018); Sr./OL Mark Williamson (3rd team All CAA); Jr./QB Shon Mitchell (1,281 yards passing, 6 TDs); Sr./LB Nate Atkins (5.5 TFLs, 68 tackles); Sr./LB Arman Jones (59 tackles, 5.5 TFLs).
TOP NEWCOMER: Fr./DB Marcus Barnes (Top 300 signee in the HERO Sports 2019 Recruit Rankings – all three service academies wanted him, 11 total offers)
THE QUOTE: "We’re an unknown, and there are some really good teams in this conference who have a lot of players coming back. The preseason, where they have you ranked, that’s great. But we all know that ultimately, when the season’s over, where you are then is more important." — coach Mike London said at CAA media days
WERE WE RIGHT?: Last Year's William & Mary Preview
FCS 2020 NFL PROSPECTS: The List
BEST FCS TRADITIONS: The List
PREVIEWS: The Rest Of CAA
Albany | Delaware | Elon | James Madison
Maine | New Hampshire | Rhode Island | Richmond
Stony Brook | Towson | Villanova | William & Mary
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