If you’re going to run a pass-happy offense where the running game is an afterthought, having a talented, capable quarterback is a must.
Fortunately for the LaGrange College Panthers, they’re all set at the quarterback position, with Graham Craig returning for his junior season.
In his first season with the Panthers, all Craig did was lead NCAA Division III in passing yards per game with 357, and he was eighth in the country with 32 touchdowns.
By the time the season ended, Craig had set 18 school passing records, and he was one of 10 finalists for the Gagliardi Trophy given to Division III’s most outstanding player.
As head coach Matt Mumme heads into his first full season as the LaGrange College head coach, he’s grateful to have Craig in the fold.
“It’s always nice, especially in our system, to have a quarterback with experience,” Mumme said. “It allows me to put my attention in other places if I need to.”
Craig transferred to LaGrange College from Valdosta State, and from his first game, he showed a comfort with Mumme’s “Air Raid” offense.
“He grew up in this offense in high school, so that was a bonus for us,” Mumme said. “He came on last year as a transfer, and for the most part he already knew what we were doing.”
In his first game against Birmingham Southern, Craig threw for 450 yards, and he ended up throwing for at least 300 yards in eight of the Panthers’ 10 games.
Craig had two games where he threw five touchdown passes, and he had three games where he tossed four scoring passes.
“He does a great job of leading the offense and taking control when he’s out there on the field,” Mumme said.
Craig will be surrounded by talented, experienced players.
Four starting offensive linemen are returning, as are eight receivers who saw playing time a year ago.
Included in that group is Griffin Roelle, who had a phenomenal season with 59 catches and 10 touchdowns.
Marsalis Jackson, in his first season of college football, caught 47 balls for a 19-yard average, and he led the team with 12 touchdowns.
“We’ve got a lot of guys back,” Mumme said. “We’re excited.”
The Panthers will be looking at some young players at the running-back position.
“It’ll be a group by committee,” Mumme said. “A lot of people are going to have to come in and earn jobs. We’re looking forward to what those guys will do.”
Reach Kevin Eckleberry at (706) 884-7311 (ext. 232) or on Twitter @lagrangesports