by Cameron Rivers
North Carolina A&T’s Quarterback Lamar Raynard may be one of the most underrated FCS prospects going into the 2018 Football season. With his combination of arm talent, leadership, and ability to make clutch plays. The High Point, North Carolina native is arguably the best Quarterback to ever rock the blue and gold.
I look at Raynard the same way I look at Thanos, Raynard’s skillset might be equivalent to the Infinity Gauntlet. At the snap of his fingers, he can alter the whole universe or at least the game at hand.
Coming out of high school Raynard seemed to have been overlooked. He was not ranked nationally or even in the state. This could have hurt some young players confidence, but not Raynard’s.
“It really didn’t matter to me. I just knew I was going to ball wherever I went.”
And oh did he ball. After red shirting his freshman season, Raynard got his first taste of playing time during the 2015 college football season, getting his first start on Sept. 5 at home against Shaw University. Raynard threw for 188 yards on 14 completions and 3 Touchdowns in the game. Raynard also showed his dual threat ability by running in a touchdown en route to the 61-7 win over the Shaw University Bears.
The next season the 2016 Aggies were loaded with talent. After 9 games and 8 starts Raynard and the Aggies started off the season hot; with Raynard winning all of games as starter. Raynard was on a tear throwing for career highs in passing yardage, touchdowns and completions. Raynard was so accurate that season that he broke the single season passing percentage record by completing 64.6% of his passes.
Unfortunately, a chest injury ended Raynard’s 2016 season prematurely.
” It felt good winning those first games, but when I injured myself I was hurt inside””
“Lamar just continues to get better,” former Aggies head coach Rod Broadway said at the time .”The four games prior to him getting hurt (last season) he
was playing at a really high level. He started this season right where he ended last season, and we expect great things out of him.”
And great things did come, Raynard would take that experience from the 2016 season and turn it into a unbelievable 2017 campaign. The Quarterback helped lead the Aggies to an undefeated season by throwing 31 total touchdowns and completing 63.7 of his passes with a QBR of 161.7.
While his numbers may seem gaudy, Raynard’s ability to shine in the biggest moments might be his most impressive quality.
In the 2017 Celebration Bowl, the score was tied 14-14 in the 4th quarter against Grambling State. After a great defensive play from the A&T defense forcing Grambling into a 3 and out; Raynard and the Aggies gets the ball back late with a chance to win the game.
With just over 1:31 on the clock. Raynard finds Marquell Cartwright over the middle for a 19 yard gain to get the Aggies within Grambling’s 20 yard line as the clock continues to tick.
The next play Raynard drops back and connects with standout Wide Receiver Elijah Bell as Bell makes an amazing contested catch on the left sideline to get A&T to the 5 yard line. After a short run on 1st & Goal by Cartwright there is only 46 seconds left on the clock. Now It is now or never for Raynard and the Aggies. As the ball snaps, Raynard lowers his head bulldozing into his offensive line.
At first the play looks bleak like Raynard will fall short of the end zone, but that good ole reality stone Thanos done came in handy, because with a lot of determination and a push by his offensive line, Raynard made it into the promise land for the game winning touchdown, capping off an undefeated 12-0 season with a 2017 Celebration Bowl Championship.
“I told the D if you give me the ball back I’ll lead the troops down to score, you know that’s what I did. Man I want to shout out my offensive line, shout out my receivers, running backs everybody man [because] this is a team effort, they deserve this as well as me. The fans. Everybody man”
Humbling words from a leader who just cemented his legacy in HBCU football lore.
When asked why a NFL franchise should draft him, Raynard responded saying, “I’m a winner and I’m a competitor.”
When asked if he ever reminisces about how he and the Aggies made history this past season by being the only MEAC football to finish a season undefeated, Raynard simply replied “ Sometimes I do but it’ll be better if we do it again.”
As Raynard enters the 2018 season, expect big things both out of him and the whole A&T football team.
The Aggies open their 2018 football season against one of the best teams in FCS football against the Jacksonville State Gamecocks at a neutral site in Montgomery, Alabama.