Jan. 22, 2013
FAYETTEVILLE, NC - Fayetteville State University officially introduced Lawrence Kershaw as its 15th head coach in program history during a press conference held at Felton J. Capel Arena. Kershaw comes to the Broncos after spending the previous five seasons as offensive coordinator/offensive line coach at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, FL.
Fayetteville State has won three CIAA championships since joining the conference in 1954. FSU is the second-oldest public institution in North Carolina and is a member of the University of North Carolina System. The university has nearly 6,000 students and offers degrees in more than 60 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.
Kershaw, who has coached a total of 17 years on the collegiate level, was a member of the FAMU coaching staff from 2008-12 and picked up a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Co-Championship in 2010. He is also familiar with the CIAA having played and coach at Virginia State (1995-97, 2000-03), and served as an assistant at Virginia Union (2004-05). Kershaw has also coached at Fordham (1998), Truman State (2006) and Hampton (2007).
Fayetteville State Chancellor Dr. James A. Anderson stated that he was very impressed by how the coaching candidates focused more on academics than athletics. He felt that Kershaw possessed those qualities while also focusing on the development of the student-athlete.
"One thing I was impressed with in all of them (candidates) was they talked to me more about the student in the word student-athlete than they did about the word athlete," he said. "They made very, very serious statements about what it meant to develop young men who are mature, young men who had class, young men who understood that when away from campus they represented the university; they had to act accordingly and would not cheat academically. If that, and all other, created prospectus that they gave to me to talk about their philosophy and goals; and Coach Kershaw was also one of those."
Fayetteville State Director of Athletics Dr. Edward McLean reiterated the same points as Anderson. Although it was a timely process in hiring a new head football coach, McLean felt they had the right man for the job in Kershaw because of how he will guide his players moving forward.
"It was a task of not only myself, but the committee and a lot of folks, to select our new head football coach," he stated. "It was a task that we did not take lightly. We have a coach and we are proud to have him. He is going to develop our student-athletes as we go forward. That is very important to us, not only with the wins because I know they will come, but to develop our student-athletes. I think that Lawrence Kershaw will do that."
Kershaw is very grateful to both Anderson and McLean for giving him his first head coaching opportunity.
"First off all I would like to thank Chancellor Anderson and Dr. McLean for providing me my first opportunity to be a head football coach," he said. "It has been a lifelong dream of mine and has now been achieved. I also want to thank my family; I am a family guy."
The Virginia State alumnus is eager to get started with his new post, and start assembling a team and coaching staff for the start of the 2013 season.
"I am just ready to get started," stated the Queens, NY native. "I am very excited but if you know anything with being a football coach, you don't get excited for a long period of time, about a 24-hour period, and then your mind goes to what has to be done. That is kind of where I am at. I am ready to meet the guys and get going with them, hire a staff and get out doing a little bit of recruiting. So I am just ready to get those things done and get the program going in the right direction."
Two things will be vital to the football program under Kershaw: Academics and Community Service. He will stress to his players that upon entering the FSU program they will be cared about as a person. The second thing he will make his players understand is that academics come first before football. Winning football games will also be vital.
"The biggest thing for me is I want to stress to the young men, and anybody coming into the program, is that we care about you as a person first," he said. "We want to develop you as a person and the players will soon get to know that is first and foremost for me. Those will be the first things that we will be trying to address. The second thing is I care that they graduate. It is important that you graduate; that is what you come to college for is to get your degree. You don't come to college to play football; you come to get your degree and use your athletic ability to help pay for your education. The third thing, obviously, is we have to win. We have to win football games. So everything we do will be in that process."
The student-athletes, as well as coaches, will participate in various community service projects during their time at FSU. Community service will be one of the first items on the to-do list for Kershaw once he settles into his new position.
"Everybody in the program, including coaches, will have to do a minimum of a certain number of hours per semester," he stated. "Also our seniors will be in charge of setting up community service projects themselves. Community service is huge. Everybody in the program, including me, will have to do that. That will be one of the things we will be looking to get going within the first 90 days here."
The familiarity with Fayetteville State during his time, both as a player and coach in the CIAA, helped attract him to the head coaching position. Kershaw sees the commitment that the university and athletic department have put towards the football program, and knows that all of the pieces are in place to lead the Broncos to another conference championship.
"There has been an investment in the football program," he said. "This is a place that I think you can get it done. It has been done in the past. So I am just very excited about the opportunity that I think there are some things in place to get it turned around."
Fayetteville State will have different looks in 2013 both on offense and defense. During Kershaw's time at Florida A&M, the Rattlers possessed one of the top offenses in the MEAC and he hopes to do the same at FSU.
"Offensively we will run a Spread Offense," he said. "Four receivers will be on the field probably 99.9 percent of the time. We are going to be a fast-paced, no-huddle team. Our tempo will probably be like Oregon, but systematically we will probably be more like Texas A&M. Defensively we will be Multiple. We are going to go back-and-forth between a 3-4 and even front. We will play man and zone coverage. So we will be multiple in that aspect."
Kershaw said he is not a big philosophy guy. Instead he will focus on three specific areas of the football game. Those three areas will help decide who comes out on top when the clock hits 0:00.
"The three main things that I focus on is scoring, points given up and turnovers; those are the three things that determine whether you win or lose a football game," he stated. "That's our main focus."