Scott Abell, head football coach at Washington & Lee University, will take over as Davidson College’s head coach. He will lead the Wildcats after consistently turning around or elevating high school and college football programs over the past two decades.
Davidson Director of Athletics Jim Murphy said Abell’s creativity and intensity generate an exciting style of football.
“He understands the type of young man capable of great success,” Murphy said, “on the field and off.”
Abell earned three Old Dominion Athletic Conference Championships in six seasons as Washington & Lee’s head coach and achieved a 39 – 24 record. His conference peers three times selected him as ODAC Coach of the Year, and he was named the Willy Lanier Virginia State Coach of the Year – twice.
“I’m sure our coaches will be glad to see him leave,” ODAC Commissioner Brad Bankston said, “and I mean that in a good way.”
At Washington & Lee, Abell led a Division III team. He was drawn by both the similarities and differences at Davidson – a top-ranked liberal arts college that recruits players who “thrive in the classroom and on the field,” he said, “but at the Division I level.”
“Coach Abell embraces our educational mission and understands how at Davidson Division I competition develops creativity, discipline, and other attributes that help equip our scholar-athletes to lead and serve throughout their lives,” Davidson President Carol Quillen said. “We are thrilled that he has joined us.”
Abell begins his new role on Tuesday, Jan 2.
“I am excited and eager to get started,” Abell said. “I’m grateful to everyone at Davidson for this opportunity. I look forward to meeting the student athletes, and we will work diligently to bring the same pride and excellence to Davidson football that is expected in all aspects of the college.”
He played both football, his first love, and baseball in high school, but his scholarship opportunity was in baseball at Longwood College. The Kansas City Royals drafted him to their minor league teams, where he spent two years – and hit a home run during his first at-bat – before turning to teaching and coaching football.
“My journey here,” Abell said, “is wildly different from most.”
His head coaching career started uphill in 1997 at Liberty High School, near Lynchburg, Va., where he turned an 0 – 10 program into district champions in three years. He moved to nearby Amherst High School, which had not brought home a state championship in a dozen years, and led teams to back-to-back state titles.
In 2008, he turned down the job of offensive coordinator at Washington & Lee in part because it dashed plans for his son, then in 7th grade, to play for him at Amherst High. When W&L asked, again, a few weeks later, Abell said yes.
“My son said, ‘Dad, I get it. It’s a great opportunity. I’ll make my own mark,’” Abell said.
Porter Abell graduated last spring from the University of Richmond, where he spent four years as a Division I wide receiver.
Washington & Lee increased their yardage and points per game each season and set conference rushing records with Abell as offensive coordinator. He was promoted to head coach in 2012 and transformed the Generals’ offense into a national rushing powerhouse, leading the NCAA Division III in rushing three of the past six seasons. His 2015 squad went undefeated in the regular season, the first to do so in program history, and set records in total yards (5,439), rushing offense (4,773) and points scored (417).
“At each of these schools, you surround yourself with great people who share your vision,” Abell said. “That’s a common denominator across sports and business – people coming together for one cause.”
Each time he has moved, it was to a program that had seen opportunities and close games slip away, he said.
“Figuring out how to get that done is the key,” Abell said. “We are going to work hard, build great relationships and bring enthusiasm and excitement to Davidson football!”
The Coach Abell File
Hometown: Crozet, Va.
Family: wife, Crissie; son, Porter, 2017 UR graduate; daughter Emily, High Point University student
Education: B.S., Physical Education and Health - Longwood, ’92; MA, Administration/Supervision – Lynchburg, 07
Playing Experience: Longwood, 1988-92
2018-pr. – Davidson (Head Coach)
2008-17 - Washington & Lee (Head Coach, 2012-17; Offensive Coord. 2008-11)
2002-08 - Amherst County High (Head Coach and Offensive Coordinator)
1997-02 - Liberty High (Head Coach)
1996-97 - Altavista High (Offensive Coordinator, QB’s, LB’s)
1994-96 - Western Albemarle High (QB’s and DE’s Coach)
1993 - Albemarle High (Assistant)