Work Samples

ODU football has strong Stafford connection

October 21, 2010

By David Driver
For the Stafford County Sun
Used with permission

STAFFORD Staffords Nick Lanciault, while with the University of Mississippi football team in 2009, had a locker next to Kendrick Lewis and went up in practice against Dexter McCluster. Lewis is now a rookie wide receiver in the NFL with Kansas City while McCluster is in his first year as a wide receiver with the Chiefs.

Lanciault, a graduate of Colonial Forge High School, also got to meet NFL quarterback Eli Manning of the New York Giants at Mississippi. The Stafford resident also met former Ole Miss standout Michael Oher, the subject of The Blind Side, a film about the Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman.

After nearly a year at Ole Miss, former Colonial Forget standout Lanciault decided to attend college closer to home. And since he did not figure to see much playing time at Ole Miss, which plays in the powerful Southeastern Conference, he enrolled this semester at Old Dominion University in Norfolk. The redshirt freshman linebacker is part of a Division I-AA program that played its first season of football in 2009 after an absence of nearly 70 years. ODU won three of its first six games this year.

I was not on scholarship at Ole Miss. It was a personal choice to come closer to home. I thought I would have a better shot at playing, said Lanciault, who has three more years of eligibility after this year. It is really cool. I came from Ole Miss, where it is an established program. People are just starting to understand how football is important here at ODU.

Lanciault has been reunited at ODU with former Colonial Forge teammate Chis Lovitt, a sophomore wide receiver for the Monarchs. The third Stafford product with ODU is redshirt sophomore defensive end Andrew Slebonick, a graduate of North Stafford High. He played against both Lovitt and Lanciault in high school and is the younger brother of Patrick Slebonick, a former lineman for the University of Virginia football team. Lanciault, who attended Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham before going to Ole Miss, was bothered by a hamstring injury in August and has been recovering since then.

Lovitt has seven catches this season and has made two tackles on special teams for ODU as of Oct. 21. I usually go in on the second or third series of the game. I get on the field a good amount, Lovitt said. I go in for deep routes.

The Monarchs host Georgia State in its homecoming game on Oct. 23. ODU will begin play in the Colonial Athletic Association in 2011 and Georgia State will join the CAA in 2012.

Last year homecoming was very exciting, said Lovitt, a double major in psychology and communications. This year it will be the same thing.

Earlier this season, on Sept. 18, ODU nearly knocked off William & Mary before losing, 21-17. William and Mary is one of the top teams in the CAA and on Oct. 2 beat Villanova, the defending national champion at the Division I-AA level. Richmond, also from the CAA, won the national title in 2008.

It would have been huge, Lovitt said of the near win over the Tribe. We felt we should have come away with a win. They are a very good team. It shows we have talent. The competition has greatly increased for the games. The competition keeps getting better and better. It has gotten a lot more tough but at the same time a lot more fun.