WILLIAMSBURG (WAVY) — Take one step into Zable Stadium, and you can’t miss the construction. A new upper deck with luxury suites and a press box, part of a 27 million dollar makeover that is scheduled to be ready next season.
“It’s gonna be a really great experience,” coach Jimmye Laycock said. “Not just for our football team and players but for all the people that support William and Mary football.”
On the field, the defense returns safety Deandre Houston Carson and linebacker Luke Rhodes. Rhodes is the only FCS player in the country on the Butkus award watch list which honors the nation’s top linebackers.
“In terms of living up to it, just put in the hard work and let things take care of itself,” Rhodes said. “To be on a list like that is truly awesome.”
On offense, the Tribe returns its entire offensive line, it returns running back Mikal Abdool-Saboor, and for the first time in years, a starting quarterback is in place before camp starts, 6 foot 3 inch junior Steve Cluley.
“Going into camp it helps my confidence and with that it helps the team offensively I think,” Cluley said. “When your not the starter it’s hard to put your foot down and say ‘do this and do that’. Not that you are being bossy, you’re trying to help the team. In spring ball and summer we worked tremendously hard.”
“The thing that Steve has done also is gain the respect of his teammates,” Jimmye Laycock said.”Not just for his play in the fall but also his toughness in the fall.”
Not only is Cluely more comfortable, so are his receivers including former Warhill player Devonte Dedmon.
“Steve Cluley is like a brother to me,” Dedmon said. “We’ve been talking everyday, we are out here working out, he gives me tips on what I can do better against the defenses during the season.”
William and Mary has not made the playoffs since 2010. Last season it was 7-5, missing out on the post season after dropping its season finale to Richmond. The preseason poll has the Tribe finishing 4th in the CAA and this year’s squad is hoping to finally get back to the playoffs.
“We kind of fell short of out goals last year,” said safety Deandre Houston-Carson.”All the guys on the team are hungry to make the playoffs and make a run deep in the playoffs”
“I want to win the CAA,” said Cluley. “I want to win every game I want to go to the national championship and I don’t think there should be a ceiling on our goals.”
William and Mary opens the season on the road against Lafayette.