Quincey September’s journey to William and Mary was a product of athletic ability, curiosity and a willingness to hit people, along with advice from a well-known friend.
The Tribe’s senior linebacker is a native of South Africa who got a late start in football, but caught up due to his natural gifts and a thirst for knowledge.
“I like to think of myself as pretty versatile,” September said, “getting plugged in wherever the defense needs me, wherever the coaches need me to be. Special teams, as well. Run-to-the-ball kind of guy, a hustle player, I like to think of myself.”
September, a rangy 6-foot-3 and 230 pounds, has totaled 12 tackles in three games this season, playing alongside more heralded teammates Luke Rhodes and Airek Green at linebacker.
While it wouldn’t be fair to call September “injury-prone,” he has been plagued througout his career with nagging problems that caused him to miss practice time or an occasional game.
When asked to list his ailments through the years, he joked, “Do you have enough time?”
Yet September can be remarkably productive, given the time he’s missed. He was bothered in preseason by a bone bruise below his left knee that limited both practice and conditioning. But in the opener at West Virginia, he had nine tackles, including a tackle-for-loss, despite appearing gassed between plays the entire game.
“It’s pretty frustrating, but I think getting mental reps in and watching a lot of film is just as important as practice sometimes,” he said. “If you can’t do it, you’ve got to get your rehab in and really concentrate more on the mental aspect. Which I think is a good thing because when you come back from the injury, you keep that attention to detail when you’re on the field.”
Tribe defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Scott Boone said, “He’s a physical kid, a very, very good athlete. He’s also a smart kid. Once he settled into a position – he settled into the linebacker position – he spent time with coaches and in the film room studying how to be a better player. By nature, he’s somebody who will ask questions and do the extra work.”
At various times, September played wide receiver, safety and defensive end before settling in at linebacker. He’s also a valued member of the kickoff, punt and punt rush/return teams.
He played all 11 games last season and started in the season finale versus Richmond. He finished with 38 tackles, including a career-best 10 tackles versus Old Dominion. He played in all 11 games as a sophomore.
September grew up in Durban, South Africa, a busy port city of approximately 3.5 million, and played rugby and basketball as a youngster. He showed enough promise in hoops that in the ninth grade the group Basketball Without Borders, a joint FIBA/NBA initiative, talked to him about an athletic scholarship to St. Anne’s Belfield in Charlottesville.
Another basketball-playing South African previously attended St. Anne’s Belfield and highly recommended the experience. Luvuyo Mandela, great grandson of former president and national icon Nelson Mandela, told September that he enjoyed and benefited from his time there.
September went to SAB before 11th grade. He attended boarding school in South Africa, so the idea of boarding school in the U.S. wasn’t as daunting as the cultural change. But being an athlete helped to bridge gaps. He looked forward to basketball, but wanted to try American football, figuring that his rugby background would help.
“A lot of the physicality,” he said. “Running to the ball, tackling. Rugby is a lot more open-field stuff and a lot more continuous play than football is. But the general concepts of the game are pretty similar.”
The learning curve for football was fairly steep, he said, for someone who knew little about the game.
“I still think of myself as learning a lot about the game, to this day,” he said. “But I do remember that putting on a helmet was one of the most awkward experiences ever. Because rugby is absolutely nothing. You play as is. Putting on the helmet was pretty weird – trying to move my head around. Same thing with the pads. But after a couple weeks or so, I got used to it.”
September drew more college interest for football than basketball, so he pursued the game even more diligently. He said he spoke to coaches at Old Dominion and Elon, but only William and Mary offered a scholarship.
“He’s really good in space,” Boone said. “He’s solid in pass coverage and he’s good against the run. He’s got good quickness and good instincts. He had a harder time in the box (when he played defensive end), because he got caught up in traffic and it wasn’t as easy to read his keys. He’s better in the open field where he can use his athletic ability.”
September is a fifth-year senior majoring in economics, with a minor in marketing. He aims to get a job here in the U.S. in order to gain some experience in the business world, but he intends to return to South Africa and work among his countrymen.
“I try to get myself on my feet first,” he said, “before I can help others.”