WILLIAMSBURG— William and Mary Tribe Football hosted one of their legendary players for a special weekend during their annual spring game on March 11. The night before, that legendary player, Sean McDermott, was inducted into the College of William and Mary Hall of Fame.
McDermott, now head coach for the Buffalo Bills, spent time around campus during the weekend. He had the opportunity to show his family where he spent time during his collegiate years, including his fraternity house, the practice fields, and the dining commons. He toured Zable Stadium and spoke with current players on the team.
In 1993, McDermott’s football career started with the Tribe as a walk-on. A defensive back, McDermott had to prove worthy of a scholarship.
“When you are given number 83 as a freshman and defensive back, it’s a little humbling. That’s one of the many things that motivated me to become the player that I became years later. I use that as a chip on my shoulder type of moment. I’m very proud to have said that I was a walk on and earned a scholarship,” McDermott said.
In 1996, McDermott became the full-time starter playing in all 46 games of his junior and senior campaign. McDermott was coached by William and Mary legend Jimmye Laycock, someone who he still admires to this day.
“The way he ran his program is very similar to what I would later experience in the NFL. His level of consistency, his attention to detail, his schedule of how we traveled and his standard that he expected from his players, both on and off the field has become a big part of who I am as a coach,” McDermott said.
After graduating, McDermott spent one season as a grad assistant coach in 1998 before heading to the National Football League. McDermott made coaching stops with the Philadelphia Eagles and Carolina Panthers, before landing the head coaching position with the Buffalo Bills in 2017.
For McDermott, the induction ceremony and visit back to campus was special.
“It’s special and humbling, given the people who are already in the Hall of Fame. Years ago, I was just trying to get playing time and now to be in the hall of fame, all the things you go through on campus, getting my first scholarship, it’s all the years and years of hard work and dedication that I can share now with my kids, to show them that if you put in the work, it can happen,” McDermott said.
As he took in the spring game, McDermott was taking photos with anyone who requested one. To him, the college still feels just the same as it did when he left and the lessons he learned as a student still apply to him today.
“William and Mary is not a place where things are handed out; grades, scholarships, you have to earn every inch of what you do here on campus,” McDermott said. “That combination of earning everything is what prepared me the most for after graduation.”