Sam Washington had a tough act to follow when he succeeded his mentor Rod Broadway as NC A&T’s football coach after a 2017 season in which the Aggies went undefeated and won a HBCU national championship.
But he proved to be up for the challenge.
The former defensive coordinator led A&T to an upset of FBS rival East Carolina, the school’s fourth Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference title in the last five years and a return trip to the Celebration Bowl on Dec. 15 in Atlanta.
It’s an accomplishment that earned him recognition as the MEAC’s Coach of the Year on Monday. Washington joins Broadway, George Small, Bill Hayes, Mo Forte, Jim McKinley and Hornsby Howell as winners of the conference honor.
“We accomplished many of the goals we set out to accomplish,” Washington said in a statement. “I’m very proud and grateful that I have been blessed with this honor. It all boils down to having a great coaching staff and outstanding players. It is truly a team award.”
Washington became the Aggies’ coach after Broadway announced his retirement in January. He inherited a star-studded roster led by All-MEAC quarterback Lamar Raynard, running back Marquell Cartwright and receiver Elijah Bell, along with defensive end Darryl Johnson, cornerback Mac McCain and six other returning starters on defense.
A&T started the 2018 season with a splash by recording road wins at Jacksonville State, the preseason No. 6 FCS team, and ECU. But after a home win against Gardner-Webb that catapulted the Aggies all the way to No. 4 in the nation, they lost two of their next four before finishing the regular season strong with four straight wins and a 9-2 record. That includes Saturday’s 45-0 shutout of rival NC Central in the annual Aggie-Eagle Classic.
“The expectations at this university are always high and that speaks to the excellence this university has displayed over the years,” Washington said. “Thanks to the excellence of coach Broadway, those expectations were made even higher. Coach (Broadway) built a program here where people expect us to do great things. I’m thrilled we are still meeting those expectations.”