Slowly but surely, William and Mary is gaining respect as a possible contender for this year’s Colonial Athletic Association title, earning a preseason rank of No. 22 among NCAA Division I-AA programs. Last year, the College began the year unranked, just prior to its near-upset against West Virginia.
The Tribe is poised for success this season, returning eight starters on a defensive unit that ranked eighth in the country in total yards allowed last season. Senior defensive end Mike Reilly, whose 11.5 sacks led the CAA last season, is one of several returning impact players. Senior linebacker Airek Green and junior linebacker Luke Rhodes, who averaged 8.2 tackles per game last season, anchor an experienced linebacker corps. The unit is strong beyond the front seven as well, as junior cornerback Deandre Houston-Carson looks to build off an impressive season last year in the secondary, posting 13 passes deflected and two interceptions.
Last season, the Tribe only allowed 14.0 points a game en route to becoming the second best defense in the nation in points allowed. Trevor Andrews enters his first year as defensive coordinator, though he served as defensive line coach for the College for the last ten seasons.
Offensively, the quarterback job remains undecided. The offensive line returns only two starters, but is stacked in terms of size and youth. Junior Andrew Jones, the preseason pick for All-CAA center at a not-so-fledgling 6’1 and 280 pounds, is the smallest in the group. Senior Tre McBride, first team all-conference receiver and kick returner, is expected to lead an experienced receiving corps. Junior Mikal Abdul-Saboor returns as a solid starter at running back.
The Tribe’s first contest is slated for Aug. 30 in Blacksburg, where the College faces in-state foe Virginia Tech.