Brent Caprio will find out any day now whether he will take every snap or carry a clipboard for the College of William & Mary's football season opener Sept. 1 at the University of Maryland.
The Mainland Regional High School graduate has been involved in a tight, three-man competition for the Tribe's starting quarterback job throughout the preseason. Even if he wins the job, the pressure will not let up, but Caprio is OK with that.
"I think that that's something that every college quarterback has to worry about, and that's where college football's a lot different than high school football," Caprio, the 2008 Press Player of the Year, said in a phone interview this week. "There's always someone out there that can come in and take your position. It definitely makes you work, and you have to be consistent and you have to show that you've earned the position and produce."
Caprio started four of the Tribe's last five games last season, which they finished a disappointing 5-6 after starting the year ranked No. 3 in the The Sports Network's Football Championship Subdivision poll.
William & Mary went 2-2 in games Caprio started, including a dramatic season-ending win at Richmond in which the redshirt junior threw the winning touchdown pass on fourth-and-goal with two seconds to go.
"I think I learned something in every start, and as I gained more experience it definitely showed on the field," Caprio said. "Even though it wasn't a great season, we ended on a high note, a comeback win at Richmond. ... Very exciting, something for me to work off of this offseason."
Caprio actually played in all 11 of the Tribe's games, as they had issues with injuries and underperformance at quarterback throughout most of the season. He led the team in completions (68), completion percentage (63.6), passing yards (795) and touchdown passes (six), but he also threw seven interceptions. He was the only Tribe quarterback to run for a touchdown.
This season, he's competing against fellow redshirt junior Michael Graham and redshirt sophomore Raphael Ortiz for the starting job.
Graham started three games last season, throwing for five touchdowns and three interceptions before breaking a finger on his passing hand and missing the last three games.
"They all are in the mix," Tribe coach Jimmye Laycock said in a video on the athletic department's official YouTube channel. "They all played well at times in the spring, and they all struggled at times."
Caprio, Graham and Ortiz roomed together during training camp, which wrapped up Tuesday. Caprio said they are all close friends even as they compete against each other.
"We all get along pretty well," he said. "It's not like we're out there hoping that someone else does poorly or anything like that. ... I just like to try and control what I can control and worry about me and see what happens."
Even if he doesn't win the job now, Caprio said he doesn't plan to change positions or transfer.
"Even in years past, I've been a second- or third-string guy, and we've had to play three or four quarterbacks the past two seasons," he said, "so I think I'm going to stick with the position regardless of what happens and see what happens during the season."
Still, Caprio likes his chances. He said he's a different quarterback than he was four years ago at Mainland, where he frequently ran with the ball. He has learned to be a pocket passer. And intelligence is a strength for the finance major and two-time Colonial Athletic Association all-academic team selection.
"I'm definitely more comfortable," Caprio said. "I know the offense pretty well. It's kind of second nature at this point. ... Everything kind of slows down a little bit for you, and you can see things a lot more clearly, and you don't get (overly) excited."
Being in an open competition for any position can take a toll mentally. When it's one of the most pressure-packed positions in sports, it can be even tougher. Every move is scrutinized.
Caprio expects a resolution soon, though he did not know exactly when the coaches would make their decision.
"It can be stressful at times," he said. "If you overthink things or overanalyze things, it can definitely be very stressful, but I try to control what I can control and focus on me and just let whatever happens happen."
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