Brent Caprio remembers William & Mary standing out during his football recruiting process.
"I took my official visit down here," said Caprio, 21, of Somers Point. "It's a great school academically. It was moving in the right direction, had some winning seasons. I thought it was kind of fate that brought me down here."
After redshirting one year, the Mainland Regional graduate is now a sophomore and has worked his way into the starting lineup as quarterback for the Williamsburg, Va., school that's part of the extremely tough Colonial Athletic Association in the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision.
The 6-foot-1, 215-pounder took over as the starter for the Nov. 5 game against Rhode Island after Michael Graham suffered a season-ending injury to his throwing hand at the end of a 38-27 loss to Towson on Oct. 22.
"I didn't know what to expect coming into this year," Caprio said in an interview last week. "I prepared every week like I was going to get playing time and it ended up happening. It's something I was prepared for."
After a 35-31 loss on Saturday to Old Dominion University, Caprio has passed for 649 yards with four touchdowns in three starts this season.
His completion percentage of 61 is tops on the team, and he owns the team's longest passing touchdown of the year, a 72-yard strike to Jonathan Grimes.
"I'm just trying to not necessarily make the big play, but the right play," Caprio said. "I want to make good decisions with the ball. Execute and get the ball to playmakers. No turnovers, I'm not doing anything to put the team in a bad spot."
Caprio's best game of the season came against Old Dominion on Saturday when he was 20-for-28 for 245 yards and a touchdown. But he also threw two interceptions late in the game.
"I thought for the most part that Brent played a good solid game at quarterback for us," said William & Mary coach Jimmye Laycock in the CAA teleconference after the Old Dominion game. "It's a matter of experience. He kind of rushed some of his decisions (on two late interceptions). But experience is the best teacher. He's getting better and our offense is getting better."
The biggest adjustment for Caprio is picking up the speed of the game at the college level.
"There's just a lot more preparation," Caprio said. "You're meeting all the time, watching more film, practice is sometimes a bit longer. The speed of the game is faster because you're playing with guys that were all the best players in high school."
Much like Caprio.
At Mainland Caprio was the Press football Player of the Year during his senior year in the fall of 2008. He led the Mustangs to an undefeated 12-0 record and a South Jersey Group IV title.
Current Mainland coach Bob Coffey had Caprio as a starter for three years at Mainland and knew he was a special talent.
"We've had some great players at Mainland," Coffey said. "He's got to be up there as one of the top players I've ever coached."
Coffey recalled Caprio always working to better himself and being a role model for teammates.
"A great student of the game," Coffey said. "Just a great kid to be around and an even better teammate. He was a leader. He was always a go-between guy with coaches and players. A constant leader and a kid you want on your team."
Coffey follows Caprio's progress and tries to keep in touch throughout the season. Caprio said the support from home has been outstanding, especially after his first start of the season, a 24-10 win over the University of New Hampshire.
"I got a lot of texts, calls, and tweets from home congratulating me on the win," Caprio said. "It's always nice to have that support from home. Mainland is a close-nit community."
William and Mary is 4-6 this season with its final game of the season Saturday against interstate rival Richmond. But Caprio said they have improved each game. With two years left in the program, he has big expectations for the future.
"I think the program is continuing to improve and should be a contender every year," Caprio said. "My goal, and everyone on the teams goal, is to eventually win a national championship. I want to accomplish that in the next two years. That's something I will work for and should have an opportunity to do that."
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Brent Caprio's statistics
52 completions in 85 passing attempts for 649 yards with four touchdowns and six interceptions
Noon, Saturday at Richmond