Who Will Start at QB in Week 1?

With W&M’s season kicking off just over a month from today, we at the WMSB think it’s never too early to discuss the most important position on the field: quarterback. And boy, does the Tribe have a good one in Hollis Mathis.

However, reports coming out of Williamsburg indicate that Mathis is currently rehabbing his shoulder following off-season surgery — making him questionable for the start of the season. With that in mind, we’ll now provide a breakdown of select W&M QBs to better understand who might start if Hollis can’t go in week 1 at UVA.

But let’s not forget who the true #1 QB is; when Hollis is 100% healthy, he’s the unquestioned starter. And for that reason, we’ll start by previewing the unquestioned QB1 of the W&M Tribe: Hollis Mathis.

#12 Hollis Mathis (Junior), 6’2″, 170 pounds

Hollis is undeniably the top QB for the Tribe when healthy. In his first year, Mathis became just the third true freshman to start at quarterback in W&M school history, and only the second true freshman to start a season opener. And boy did he produce, finishing the year setting true freshman single-season school records for total offense (1,522), passing yards (976), and rushing touchdowns (8). He also had 546 rushing yards, the most by a Tribe true freshman since Jonathan Grimes (2008). Yes, you read that right. The most yards in a true freshman season since arguably the most decorated Tribe running back in school history, Jonathan Grimes. Hollis appeared in just two games in the COVID-shortened Spring season, but in those two games, Mathis led the CAA in total offense per game with 232 yards.

While listed as a junior now, Hollis actually has three more years of eligibility left, since he gets a year back of eligibility due to the COVID Spring season (think of it as a “bonus” mini season). We have high expectations for Hollis in his remaining three years, and we think the sky is the limit for this passer and the Tribe team. When healthy, there is no doubt that Hollis is the starter; and it is for that reason that we hope his rehab ends sooner rather than later.

#18 Cole Northrup (Grad Transfer), 6’1″, 195 pounds

Cole Northrup is the only remaining QB on the Tribe roster with actual, in-game collegiate experience. During his time at Lafayette, Northrup saw action in nine contests, starting four — including all three games in the shortened 2021 Spring season. This past Spring, the lefty QB led Lafayette to a 2-1 record, throwing for 602 yards and four touchdowns. And a fun fact about Cole: his first ever start was the season opener against William and Mary back in 2019, where he threw for 127 yards and ran for 39 yards and a TD. Some of you may even remember him in that game! But that same season, Cole’s sophomore year, his run was cut short following season-ending knee surgery.

Returning back to analysis of his game this past Spring, Cole improved with every passing game (see what we did there?). He started off throwing for 141 yards and one touchdown, and by the third game, he finished 22/34 (64.7%) for 257 yards, 2 TDs, and 0 interceptions. We like that he improved each game and hope he can bring that game and sense of senior leadership to the Tribe early this season. Cole is an experienced QB option for the Tribe should Hollis miss time at the beginning of the season; and against UVA, W&M’s coaching staff will certainly value Cole’s experience over others on the roster if Hollis can’t go in week 1.

#6 Kevin Doyle (Grad Transfer), 6’4″, 215 pounds

A sneaky pick to get the start should Hollis miss time is the big-bodied Doyle (6’4″), a junior transfer from Arizona. That’s right, the Arizona Wildcats of the PAC-12. And while he didn’t see any playing time for the Wildcats, Doyle’s high school accolades speak for themselves. Kevin played at St. John’s and was selected as the Washington D.C. Player of the Year by the Washington Post and Gatorade.

In his senior season, he threw for a single-season school record 2,635 yards and added 22 touchdowns. From there, Doyle found himself a three-star recruit with offers from schools like Michigan, Boston College, Colorado State, and FIU. Watching his highlights (below), Doyle looks like he has a cannon of an arm, as well as an ability to run the ball — perfect for the current W&M offense.

While it didn’t pan out for Doyle at Arizona, perhaps the scene in Williamsburg will give him a fresh start on his career. Look for Doyle to seriously compete for the backup position this season — perhaps even starting in week 1.

#10 Darius Wilson (True Freshman), 6’3″, 190 pounds

Wilson is another player that could surprise in camp and see some playing time this year for the Tribe. Darius was highly recruited out of high school, receiving 21 total offers before choosing to sign on the dotted line with William and Mary. He is also a leader, having served as a two-time team captain during his time at Iona Prep in New Rochelle, NY.

In high school, Wilson led his team to an undefeated regular season for the first time in 11 years and was awarded the Gatorade Player of the Year Runner Up and NYCHSFL Offense Player of the Year Runner Up in 2019. He earned second-team all-state honors as a junior after totaling more than 2,800 all purpose yards with 28 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. He is a true dual-threat QB who also has the ability to throw the long ball when needed.

Watching his high school highlights (below), Wilson reminds us a lot of Hollis Mathis. Tall, lanky, and freakishly athletic. He can make almost any throw, and is very fast and elusive in the run game. And while he might not play this year, we expect him to grow over the coming years, learning from the great Hollis Mathis, and potentially take the helm once Mathis graduates.


Of course, we at the WMSB are hoping that Hollis Mathis starts the year September 4th at UVA, remaining the starter for the entire year — but what really matters for the Tribe is the CAA schedule, which begins September 25th at Elon. If another QB needs to take the reigns for the first two or three games while Hollis heals, the Tribe has multiple options it can turn to in Northrup, Doyle, and Wilson.

Let us know who YOU think should be the starting QB if Mathis cannot go by posting in the comments below.


5 thoughts on “Who Will Start at QB in Week 1?

  1. Whomever is smart enough to throw to the TE’s. The NFL has figured out the mismatch game and W&M should follow suit (of course I’m a bit prejudiced).

  2. Enjoyed the article but I believe there’s an error when stating that Mathis is the “first true freshman” to start a season opener……..Tom Rozantz started the opening game in 1975 vs North Carolina as a true freshman. It seems as if most followers of WM football overlook the 1970’s Jim Root era, which included a very good 1976 team that beat Navy, Virginia and Virginia Tech………

    1. Appreciate the insight! Tried to corroborate this (found the score but no stats), but couldn’t dig up a true box score — but we’ll trust it’s correct. Updated the article to mark Hollis as the 2nd* true freshman to ever start a season opener for W&M!

  3. You guys are up on everything – love your work ! what happened to Kevin Doyle ? noticed he isnt on the roster now ?

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