Central VA William & Mary Players Eager to Play Against UVA
Kareem Johnson, Daniel Kuzjak, Kris Hooper & Mark Williamson
William & Mary has four guys from Central Virginia on its roster and they're looking forward to the season opener when the Tribe plays at Virginia in Charlottesville.
Daniel Kuzjak, from Western Albemarle HS is now a grad-student on the W&M football team.
He started eight games last year for the Tribe, scoring his first two college touchdowns. Kuzjak began his career as a walk-on. Since then he's gained 30 pounds of muscle and has developed into a key contributor.
"I'm not always the fastest guy so I have to use other things to create separation," says Kuzjak. "I have to use head fakes to do certain things to get out in space, so I think over the last four or five years it's been fun learning how to beat people, learning what to do."
Orange County's Kris Hooper booted a career-long 42 yard field goal last year against Delaware. He connected on 5 of 8 field goal attempts and 17 of 19 extra point tries. He's expected to be the Tribe's primary kicker this year as a sophomore.
"At the end of the day it's the same kick every time, that's the way I've been taught," says Hooper. "An extra point is the same as a 50-yard field goal, you still have to have to hit the ball the same way. It's been a process and now I'm at that point where I think I'm ready, not just physically but mentally I'm there, I feel good, I'm confident, so I'm excited."
Jimmye Laycock is in his 38th season as head coach. The Tribe return 10 starters from last year's team that finished with a record of 5-6.
Laycock has two up-and-comers in former St. Anne's Belfield receiver Kareem Johnson and former William Monroe HS lineman Mark Williamson, both who redshirted last year.
"Just come out with the mentality of not backing down and just going a hundred percent each play," says Williamson. "Just buying into the system and furthermore just being physical and not backing down from anybody."
Johnson says, "Back in high school we didn't have an entire playbook, we used wristbands and now that I've had the spring and winter and this summer also to practice with the playbook and I've grown in my confidence to be able to go out there and play."
All four guys are looking forward to a homecoming of sorts, when William & Mary plays at UVa Labor Day weekend.
Kuzjak says, "We always feel that we are, I think everyone kind of has an edge to them at this I-AA level, they really think that they were under-recruited or could have gone to a bigger school so they're excited when they go play these big games. You kind of play for those guys who doubted you in the beginning, so five years for me especially, being a two-year starter, I'm excited to go there and show them what they missed."
Virginia's game vs. William & Mary is Saturday, September 2nd at 3:30pm.
Central VA William & Mary Players Eager to Play Against UVAMore>>
Marty Hudtloff is the Sports Director at WVIR-TV. He joined the NBC29 sports team in October of 2003. He has a degree in broadcast journalism from Bradley University. You can reach out to Marty via Email or Twitter.