On The Move One More Time
By Craig R. Turner
Published: July 30, 2022

We’re back again folks for our 22nd year here at BDV.com and the one thing can be said about A&T athletics is there is rarely a dull moment and its usually chocked full of surprises. It seemed like we had just completed the bulk of our initial athletic season in the Big South Conference and then came the news that the moving vans would once again be lining up on East Market Street.

With all of the off-season realignment among Division 1 conferences, it stood to reason that more established mid major leagues would be looking to expand to at least 12 or more teams to ensure their own stability as more FCS programs begin to entertain the idea of a so-called super conference like the Missouri Valley and the Big Sky which dominates the FCS scene in the western United States.

The Colonial Athletic Association (CAA), one of the largest and most demanding mid-major athletic conferences in college sports, made it common knowledge back in January that they were targeting certain high-profile schools that fit both their academic and athletic profile so it wasn’t completely surprising that they came knocking on A&T’s door with a big fat invitation to join them in hand.

It didn’t take but about a New York minute for the administration to do all the research of the pros and cons of a second conference move in less than a year, understand the type of immediate investment that would need to be made in the athletic program’s facilities and staff, and make the calculation of the impact of CAA membership would mean on A&T’s academic quest to become a R-1 research institution.

A&T accepted the CAA offer, realizing that this is a move that they had not necessarily intended to take for at least another 4-5 years down the road. And while there’s a lot of changes and improvements in terms of facilities that will need to be made, the competitive part of the equation is really much closer than most people realize.

Now while nearly all of A&T’s sports teams will commence competition in CAA when school starts up in September, the Aggie football program will stay in the BSC in 2022 before becoming a member of the soon to be formed Southern division of the CAA which will begin play in the fall of 2023.

So what will the second and final season mean? Well Monmouth and Hampton will be in the CAA this fall while Kennesaw State hits the ground running in the A-SUN. With two of the top three finishers from year ago longer around, A&T will most likely battle it out with Campbell, Gardner-Webb, and Charleston Southern in the top half of the conference this fall.

Having suffering with through 19 months of Covid inactivity, mass injuries and inconsistency, A&T never got into any kind of rhythm a year ago. However, having most of their battle tested underclassmen back with a lot more game experience, along with some potent FBS transfers at key positions its understandable if the Aggies are being cautiously optimistic about returning to their traditional winning ways.

Most observers at media day expect the Aggies to rebound from last year’s sub-par 5-6 finish to win the Big South outright this year. A&T is being very quiet about expectations as fall camp opens next week but if a consistent quarterback can emerge quickly, the lines stay relatively injury free and a totally retooled secondary is as good as advertised, you could very well see the Aggies in postseason play by Thanksgiving weekend.

CT’s 2022 Big South Predicted Order Of Finish

1. N.C. A&T

2. Campbell

3. Gardner Webb

4. Charleston Southern

5. Bryant

6. Robert Morris

I, like most of you, watched the Big South media day earlier this week and I came away with the impression that everyone in this league will probably be competitive this season but one thing kind of stuck out for me and will probably go a long way in determining who will win out in the BSC and that thing is quarterback play. Three teams really stood out because of the quarterback position – Campbell, Gardner Webb, and N.C. A&T.

And while A&T has yet to name its starter, Sam Washington will have the luxury of having four capable alternatives to chose from. Washington said its an open competition to see if one of them separates themselves from the group and emerge as “The Guy.”

Sure, all the usual mechanical things that one looks for in a quarterback will play an important role in picking the starter – recognition of defenses, accuracy, arm strength, mobility, quick delivery, improvisation, ball security and the rest.

But to me the one big thing that will separate “the Guy” and has got to be present from day one is leadership – how his teammates react and rally to him with confidence, command of the huddle, becoming the coach on the field. The starter has to have that no fear drive to be the leader and willingly embrace the pressure rather than shying away from it when adversity hits which it invariably will in a long season.

That to me will be the one big intangible that should do a long way determining who will be under center come Sept 3rd at Bank of America Stadium.

Get ready folks because it’s just about time for the annual Bluedeathvalley.com preseason outlook- your complete early guide to 2022 A&T Football. This week we will launch the first installment of our special 5-part series starting with a look at the offensive line. Be sure to visit Bluedeathvalley.com for the latest on Aggie Football as the countdown to kickoff officially begins.

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