WILLIAMSBURG — William and Mary fifth-year senior linebacker Luke Rhodes will not need surgery after suffering a sprained knee last Saturday in the Tribe’s 34-18 football win at home over the University of New Hampshire.
William and Mary coach Jimmye Laycock said on Tuesday Rhodes “should return this season.”
“He’ll basically rest it and rehab it and we’ll get him back whenever we can get him back,” Laycock said.
Rhodes, the only Football Championship Subdivision player on the Butkus Award watch list for the nation’s top linebacker, exited in the second quarter and watched the second half from the sideline with a brace on his knee and at times, using crutches for support.
Zach Fetters is expected to start in place of Rhodes at middle linebacker Saturday at against Hampton University at Zable Stadium. The 6-foot-3, 235-pound senior finished with two tackles and an interception against UNH.
“Our defense is all about trust and belief in each other,” Fetters said Saturday. “We all do our job. Losing Luke for the rest of that game was big, but my teammates believed in me and I believed in them.”
“I think it was remarkable the way they stood in there and played,” Laycock said of the defense. “I think it would be very easy to say, ‘Oh, no. Poor us. We don’t have our leader out there...’”
Laycock said Monday “everybody” would have to step up to fill in for Rhodes, not just one person.
Fetters missed the Stony Brook and Delaware games with an injury and the former starter at weakside linebacker, senior Ian Haislip, has been out since Week 3 game at the University of Virginia.
Junior Stephen Lubnow, who recorded a career-best 16 tackles at Delaware, will start at weakside on Saturday and junior Marcus Harvey at strongside as they did the previous week, Oct. 10 at Villanova.
No. 17 William and Mary (4-2, 3-1 Colonial Athletic Association) boasts the top-ranked scoring defense in the CAA, is sixth in rushing defense and second in pass defense.