Despite a late start to the recruiting season, William and Mary Head Coach Jimmye Laycock signed 13 incoming freshmen Wednesday in a group highlighted by depth on the offensive and defensive lines. The class will also be joined by junior transfer quarterback Mike Paulus, a marquee addition from North Carolina.
“We certainly got a good cross-section of players,” Laycock said. “We’ve got some good solid lineman and we’ve got some skill players that give us some flexibility at different positions.”
Due to the College’s playoff run to the FCS national semifinals in December, the Tribe coaching staff had little time to focus on recruiting until after the season ended, almost a month later than usual.
“We weren’t able to have any official visits until the end of January,” Laycock said. “It really put us late in that regard, but the notoriety and attention we got really helped us.”
The most immediate contributor will be Paulus, who decided to transfer to the College just days after the Tribe’s season ended with a playoff loss to Villanova on Dec. 11. A former four-star recruit in the high school class of 2007 from Syracuse, N.Y., Paulus will be thrown into a quarterback battle to replace the departed senior R.J. Archer. Enrolled in classes this semester, Laycock said Paulus was already working out with his new teammates.
“He’s been watching tape and he says he’s been out there throwing with the guys,” Laycock said. “[The starting quarterback job] is wide open, nobody’s been promised anything. And I think that’s what caused all of them to go out and work and look at film right now.”
New Jersey running back Darnell Laws will highlight the group of incoming freshmen. Rated a two-star recruit by both Rivals and Scout.com, Laws ran for 731 yards on 114 carries his senior season at St. Augustine Prep and will likely redshirt his freshman season in Williamsburg.
“He gives us another big runner,” Laycock said. “That’s one thing we were looking for, and if we had an opportunity to sign a big running back we were going to do that.”
The Tribe coaching staff also focused on the offensive and defensive lines after losing several key players to graduation.
Lansdale, Pa. product Stephen Sinnott headlines the group of three defensive linemen, after being named first-team All-State and leading La Salle High School to a state championship this past fall. Meanwhile, Baron Goodwin comes to the College as a second-team All-State offensive lineman from Nansemond-Suffolk Academy in Smithfield, Va.
Raphael Ortiz will be the only scholarship quarterback in the freshman class. The Jersey City, N.J. native threw for 1,610 yards and 18 touchdowns during his senior season at St. Peter’s Prep, making first team All-State honors.
The class also includes a kicker, a rarity for scholarship freshmen. John Carpenter hit all eight of his field goal attempts this past season for Allegheny High School in Cumberland, Md, while recording 50 touchbacks.
Laycock was pleased with the overall depth of the class, and will supplement the group with invited walk-ons in the fall.
“You try to get as good, solid players as you can, hope they can develop, and see where they are two, three years from now,” he said.