True Freshmen Shine in New W&M System

[photo via tribeathletics.com]
Your William & Mary Tribe is 2-1 heading into this week’s game against FBS foe East Carolina. To get there, the Tribe picked up two important wins over Patriot league rivals Lafayette and Colgate, and while the loss to UVA was brutal, it came against a heck of a Cavaliers team (ranked #22 in the most recent AP Poll).

Against FCS competition, W&M has been dominant in the two aforementioned games, averaging more than 30 points per game. But what has really caught our eyes has been the play of Coach London’s first ever recruiting class at W&M.

There are true freshmen making a difference week in and week out — and with W&M freshmen taking home CAA Rookie of the Week honors and CAA Special Teams Player of the Week honors in recent weeks, we had to profile them. 

Hollis Mathis (QB)

[photo via tribeathletics.com]
Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA
High School: Penn Hills

Current Stats (3 Games)

  • Starting QB
  • 17/32 completions, 255 yards, 1 TD
  • 44 rushes, 199 rushing yards (leads the team), 2 TDs
  • 2-time CAA Rookie of the Week

How can we not start with this guy? Mathis had quite the impressive debut. Going into the Lafayette game, we didn’t know who would start at the QB position. Long story short, it quickly became a two-way battle between Mathis and grad transfer Kilton Anderson, before Mathis took the job over in week 2 when he threw for 88 yards and rushed for 127 yards on the ground, a Tribe rushing record for a QB (in just his first full game).

Last time out, against Colgate, Mathis took a more balanced approved — throwing for 189 yards and a touchdown, while also rushing for 62 yards and a touchdown. Against FCS competition, Mathis has shined, earning CAA Rookie of the Week honors in both contests.

He’s a true dual threat QB that W&M hasn’t had at the quarterback position in quite some time — a true threat to score on every play. Mathis is an absolute stud and we cannot wait to watch him grow each week in Coach Marion’s system. #GOGO

Kane Everson (WR)

[photo via tribeathletics.com]
Hometown: Harrisburg, PA
High School: Harrisburg

Current Stats (3 Games)

  • 4 receptions, 56 receiving yards (#2 on the team)

Everson set the single-season school records in passing touchdowns and passing yards at Harrisburg High. Yes, you read that correctly. A wide receiver set the record for most passing yards and TDs in a single season at his high school. Needless to say, Everson is an athlete, and he can sling it (as you might have seen). In Marion’s offense, it seems as though all the Green and Gold receivers can also throw  (Zach Burdick and Brandon Battle are both former QBs in their own right).

The ability to throw as a WR makes the offense that much more dynamic. Everson has already tested his arm in collegiate play, throwing a 27-yard completion against UVA; in fact, he has a 100% completion percentage on the year (QB competition anyone?).

Jokes aside, Everson is a fast and shifty receiver; he had 40 receiving yards in his first game against Colgate — and his 56 yards through three games is good enough for second on the team (in a run-first offense). It’s safe to say we expect his role to increase significantly as the year(s) goes on. 

Latrelle Smith (CB)

[photo via tribeathletics.com]
Hometown: Hampton, VA
High School: Phoebus

Current Stats (3 Games)

  • 12 total tackles (#6 on team)
  • 1 forced fumble, 1 interception (t-#1 on team)

Latrelle Smith is a name Tribe fans should get to know sooner rather than later. A true freshman from Hampton, VA, Smith propelled his way into the starting lineup this past week against Colgate, in what was only the third game of his college career.

And Smith did not disappoint — picking up an interception and a pass break up in the outing. In previous weeks, he also played in relief against Lafayette and UVA, but his performance against Colgate cemented his status as a regular starter for the Green and Gold. And oh yeah, he’s also 6th on the team in total tackles. Not bad for a 5’10”, 165 pounder, huh?

Bronson Yoder (S/Special Teams)

[photo via tribeathletics.com]
Hometown: Nappanee, IN
High School: Northwood

Current Stats (3 Games)

  • 5 kick returns, 40.4 yards per return average, 93-yard return TD (vs. Colgate)
  • #3 on the team in All-Purpose Yards (202 total yards)
  • Week 3 CAA Co-Special Teams Player of the Week

Wow, can this guy fly. Through 3 games this year, Yoder has averaged 40.4 yards per return, which ranks him NUMBER ONE in the nation. The true freshman has speed and shiftiness, as he showed on his 93-yard kickoff return for a TD against Colgate last week.

His return TD marked the first time since 2015 that W&M had a kickoff return for TD, and his performance against Colgate (2 returns, 113 yards) earned him CAA Co-Special Teams Player of the Week.

With Mathis, that is the second Tribe true freshman to earn CAA Player of the Week honors. We love the electricity Yoder brings in the return game, and hope that some more return TDs are in his future.

George Eberle (P/K)

[photo via tribeathletics.com]
Hometown: Califon, NJ
High School: Voorhees

Current Stats (2 Games)

  • 6 punts, 240 total punting yards, 40 yards per punt average

An important key to winning any football game is in the special teams department. In recent years, the Tribe’s punting game has been lackluster, averaging a meager 35.4 yards per punt last year. Through 2 games, Eberle has averaged 40 yards per punt, and has a high of 44 yards — having us remember the Hunter Windmuller days like it was yesterday (when he wasn’t injured).

While Eberle has yet to drop one inside the 20, he averages essentially 5 yards more per punt than the team did last year — and that might not sound like a lot, but every yard counts in a close game. Look for Eberle to improve on his average as the season continues.

Donavyn Lester (RB)

[photo via tribeathletics.com]
Hometown: Plano, TX
High School: John Paul II

Current Stats (3 Games)

  • 9 carries, 25 rushing yards (#5 on team)
  • 1 rushing TD; 2 receptions, 33 receiving yards

While Lester isn’t a starter, he does get touches each game — and we like what we’ve seen so far. The big (6’2″, 200 pound) back is an imposing force in the Tribe backfield.

Last week was his performance yet, carrying the ball 5 times for 18 yards and scoring a TD, while adding 23 receiving yards.

We expect him to become more involved with the offense as the season goes on, but for now, Lester provides a big-bodied running back that can run between the tackles, contributing another dynamic weapon for Coach Marion’s dangerous offense. 

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