Today, we continue compiling our list of the greatest W&M football players of all time.
Last week, we released our list of W&M’s greatest Tight Ends; this week, we turn our attention to the most important position on the field: Quarterback.
It was tough to do, with so many illustrious gunslingers throughout the Green and Gold’s past, but we’re pretty happy with where we wound up.
Check out the list, and let us know who we missed in the comments! Roll Tribe Roll.
Lang Campbell (’05)
excerpts via tribeathletics.com (link):
After starting his career as a walk-on, Lang Campbell became one of the greatest quarterbacks ever to pull on the Green & Gold; he was the first, and only, Tribe player to earn the prestigious Walter Payton Award, given to the Top Offensive Player in I-AA (in 2004).
Campbell was a key cog in what was one of the most successful single-seasons in school history (2004), as he led the Tribe to a school-record 11 wins, a league title (the Atlantic 10) and its first appearance in the NCAA National Semi-Finals.
During that magical campaign, Campbell set school single-season records for passing yards, total offense, passing touchdowns, total touchdowns, and passing yards per game.
He also set an NCAA regular-season record with a 0.31 interception percentage (1 INT in 326 pass attempts).
Additionally, the co-captain was named as the Atlantic-10 Football Scholar-Athlete of the Year in 2004 and earned consensus First-Team All-America honors the same season.
Despite playing behind another Hall of Fame Tribe quarterback (David Corley, Jr.) for the first two-seasons he was on campus, the three-time All-Academic team selection graduated third in career TD passes, fourth in career total offense, and fifth in career passing yards [doing all of this, mind you, in just one season as the starter].
Campbell also ran for 317 yards and eight touchdowns, leading the Tribe to four come-from-behind wins including both the NCAA First Round and NCAA Quarterfinals.
Shawn Knight (’94)
excerpts via The Virginian-Pilot (link):
“I can remember many times at practice with Shawn that the ball would never touch the ground,” said Laycock. “He was always so accurate – as accurate as any quarterback I’ve ever seen in practice, and then that obviously carries over into games.”
Did it ever. In 1993, Knight, a Maury High graduate, set a Football Championship Subdivision (then known as Division I-AA) record for passing efficiency that still stands.
He completed 125 of 177 passes (70.6 percent) for 2,055 yards, 22 touchdowns and just four interceptions.
If those numbers seem modest by today’s pass-happy standards, consider that by the end of the third quarter of several games that season Knight had taken a seat, if not a bow.
“A couple of games I played the first series of the second half and I was done,” Knight said. “We weren’t trying to rack up stats and rack up yards like you see some of these offenses doing now. We certainly could have, but we were about winning football games, doing it with class and moving on.”
The Tribe went 9-3 that season, 7-1 in the Yankee Conference, and made the playoffs. They finished 8-3 the following year, bringing Knight’s three-year record as a starter to 26-8.
Art Matsu (’27)
excerpt via Peter Kalison ’57 (link):
Ichya “Art” Matsu’s football exploits have been dimmed by the passage of time, but his startling feats are well documented in the papers and Flat Hats of the era.
This smallish man (5-7, 145 pounds) was the true “quadruple threat”: outstanding passer, elusive runner, deadly drop-kicker and punter.
The first renowned player on the College’s first very good teams (24-12-1 in Matsu’s four seasons), his dynamic play drew major newspaper attention and All-East honors.
A daring play-caller, Matsu led the “Fighting Virginians,” as the team came to be called due to Matsu’s play, to a Southern Conference championship and a postseason game in Chattanooga.
W&M defeated Chattanooga, 9-6, on Matsu’s 47-yard dropkick with six minutes remaining. His 75-yard punt, the school record at until 1942, helped set up the winning points.
Matsu’s passes, many to end Meb Davis, helped defeat Duke twice and Richmond three times.
On defense he called the signals and led a W&M defense that proved tough against big-time Eastern powers like Navy, Harvard and Syracuse.
Matsu, who came to W&M from Cleveland, was born in Scotland, but his parents were of Japanese-American descent. He is largely thought to be one of the very first students of color at William & Mary.
Matsu later coached many years at the college level, while also serving as a professor.
David Corley, Jr. (’03)
excerpts via tribeathletics.com (link):
Corley ended his senior season as one of nation’s elite players at the I-AA level and was one of the top 14 finalists for the 2002 Payton Award, given annually to the top player in Division I-AA football.
At the conclusion of his four-year career as a starter, he had broken nearly every passing mark in the W&M record books.
At his graduation, Corley was the most prolific performer in Atlantic 10 history (now CAA Football) in terms of total yards, as he has amassed a then-league record 10,948 yards (which currently is 3rd all-time).
Corley started the last 42 consecutive games of his career, the most consecutive starts by a quarterback in school history.
Amazingly durable, Corley never missed a snap due to injury over his 45-game collegiate career. He currently holds the Tribe’s career records in total offense (10,948 yards), passing yards (9,805), and touchdown passes (72).
He also remains the only player in school history to throw for better than 9,000 yards and run for more than 1,000 yards (1,193).
Overall, he averaged 245.0 yards per game of total offense (218.0 passing, 27.1 rushing) for his career, and had a career completion percentage of 57.9% (676-1168).
He completed better than 50 percent of his passes in 33 of 42 career starts and threw for two or more touchdowns 21 times. Corley graduated with a career TD:INT ratio of nearly 1.8:1 (73 TDs:39 INTs).
He started his career by being named as the A-10’s Rookie of the Year (1999) and earned second team all-conference honors as both a junior and senior.
Corley helped lead the team to the 2001 league championship and a first-round NCAA Playoff appearance.
Overall, W&M was 25–17 with him at the helm. In the Tribe’s 2001 Homecoming contest vs. Maine, Corley became just the second player in school history to run, pass, and catch a TD pass in the team’s 42-20 win over the Black Bears.
He remains as the last four-year starter at quarterback for the Tribe, and only other for current head coach Jimmye Laycock was fellow William and Mary Athletics Hall of Famer Stan Yagiello (’85).