|Incoming freshman Niko Johnson headlines Latrell Scott’s first Virginia State recruiting class. (RTD photo)|
What Happened In 2012: Two seasons removed from a Northern Division Championship, Virginia State finished 4-6. VSU put together a three game winning streak in October, including a win over Northern Division Champion Elizabeth City State, but struggled to maintain that consistency throughout the season.
Who Won’t Be Back: Andrew Fasion resigned as VSU Head Coach after 11 seasons with a 58-53 record, including a 2010 CIAA Championship Appearance. VSU hired former Richmond coach Latrell Scott in January, a big score for a Division II squad. Also gone from last year’s squad are starting QB Jarrett Battle and defensive back Sean Smith, who led VSU with five interceptions in 2012. Perhaps the biggest loss will be defensive lineman Alandus Beggs, who led VSU with ten sacks.
Who Will Have To Step Up: Running back Lamont Britt had a solid rookie season, rushing for a team-high 318 yards while splitting carries. Also back is Ja’Von Smallwood, last year’s leading receiver with 40 catches and six touchdowns. Defensively, linebackers Brandon Robinson (86 tackles) and Bryant Robinson (8 sacks) will lead the charge.
Who They’ll Play: After starting the season on the road against CIAA Southern Division foe Fayetteville State, VSU will face the SIAC’s Benedict in the first home game of the Scott Era. That will be the first of three consecutive home games for VSU, followed by another SIAC matchup (Kentucky State) and Johnson C. Smith. Like Tuskegee, Virginia State’s most noticeable schedule change is an omission, as the annual Labor Day Classic matchup against Norfolk State has been sent on hiatus due to new NCAA restrictions.
What To Expect: Scott’s hiring has brought a lot of optimism to the Virginia State program. He’s a talented coach that brings a Division I pedigree and experience to a program looking to vault itself back into the CIAA elite. His experience and connections have also paid dividends as he landed Niko Johnson, a talented dual threat QB who had a solid showing in a nationally televised high school football game last season. Scott knows Virginia, having gone to Hampton and coached at Richmond and James Madison. It may not happen this year, but with Scott at the helm, expect big things from Virginia State sooner rather than later.
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The second annual Deacon Jones Trophy will be awarded in Feb. 2018.