|This article originally appeared in
|September 21, 1994 - D1
|FAMU'S Domingo earning acceptance on field
The Rattlers' first non-black starting quarterback has thrown for 486 total yards in two games
|By ERIC J. LYMAN
Special to The Sentinel
TALLAHASSEE -- Ray Domingo's coronation as the starting quarterback for Florida A&M University had all the pomp and
circumstance of an afterthought.
Domingo stopped by coach Billy Joe's office the Monday before the Rattlers' season opener against Tuskegee to tell the coach he
would be late for practice because of a class-related conflict. Joe told him not to worry about it, and then, as Domingo was leaving the
office, Joe asked him to stay a moment.
"You're my man," the first-year coach quietly said after a pause. "You're my starting quarterback."
Domingo, a junior from Long Beach, Calif., entered camp as the team's sixth-string signal caller but took the news calmly. He thanked
the coach, walked outside, and then . . .
"I just jumped for joy," he said, still excited at the recollection of the moment.
Joe, whose team is 1-1, based his decision to start Domingo on what he called a "flawless" performance in a closed-practice
scrimmage the previous Saturday.
The starting job also earned Domingo a place in FAMU history.
Domingo, whose father is Mexican and whose mother is German and Filipino, is the first non-black starting quarterback in the 93-year
football history of the predominantly black university. Only one other non-black quarterback has played for FAMU - Todd Lanter, who
threw two passes for 24 yards before transferring in 1985.
Domingo said he is trying to be accepted by teammates and fans by excelling on the football field. So far, his efforts seem to be
Through two games, Domingo has hit 35 of 65 passes for 486 yards and three scores. Those are better numbers across the board
than any of FAMU's five part-time starters last season, and the best two-game start since Tony Ezell led the team in 1988. On Sunday,
Domingo was named the offensive player of the week in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
"When I first got here, a few of the players looked at me strange, like, 'What are you doing here?' One guy even told me that he thought
white people were the enemy," Domingo said. "Now, those same people are coming up to me and patting me on the back and saying I
had a good game. I feel real comfortable here."
Joe, who had white starting quarterbacks at his two other coaching jobs at traditionally black colleges, said that the team's acceptance
of Domingo was inevitable.
"When you're out there, it's like war," Joe said. "When you're in the foxhole, you're not looking back and thinking, 'Oh, no, that guy's white
or he's black.' You're just saying, 'Help me out, buddy.' It's like that here. If the guy gets the job done, who cares what color he is?"
Domingo said he enjoys changing the opinions of others.
"Maybe one reason I'm here is to help open some people's eyes," he said. "Maybe some people will walk away and think that the color
of somebody's skin isn't so important after all."
Ironically, Domingo said that race played little role in his decision to attend FAMU. He was more interested in the new program that Joe
was setting up and the opportunity to start immediately.
"I felt like with a new coach, everybody would have the same shot at starting," Domingo said. "Coach Joe said I'd have a fair shot at
being the starter and a fair shot was all I wanted."
Rob Wigod, Domingo's football mentor and his offensive coordinator at Lakewood High School in California, said he encouraged
Domingo to follow that strategy to gain a starting job.
"After high school, when Ray was looking to go the junior-college route, I told him to look at Long Beach City College because they had
a new coach (Larry Reisbig, formerly of Long Beach State)," Wigod said. "I didn't want him paying his dues on the bench for a year, and
it worked out. He started almost immediately and he helped to turn that program around."
Behind Domingo, the Vikings finished 5-4-1 in 1992 for their first winning season in eight years. As a sophomore, he led them to a 9-2
record and their first Mission Conference title since 1964.
"He made a great impact here," Reisbig said. "He helped put this program on the map. He's a rare find."
Domingo was the rare find of Jimmy Joe's, FAMU's offensive coordinator and the younger brother of Billy Joe. The younger Joe heard
favorable reports from coaches around the country about Domingo and convinced his brother to offer Domingo a grant-in-aid. Division
I-AA schools Southern Illinois and Weber St., in Utah, also offered Domingo grants-in-aid.
"He (Domingo) is a tremendous athlete," Billy Joe said. "He's got all the tools of a great quarterback, but more importantly, he's a
leader. A great quarterback has got to be an athlete and a mature leader."
Before visiting FAMU, Domingo never had been east of Arizona. Now, about 3,500 miles from his family, Domingo said he has nobody
to count on but himself.
Though he confessed to some homesickness at first, and he said that he still misses his family, he is sure he made the right decision
to attend FAMU.
His goals at FAMU are lofty. His Mission Conference championship ring is conspicuous on his big hands, and he fidgets with it
noticeably when he talks about what he would like to accomplish in his two years with the Rattlers.
"The sky's the limit with this team," he said. "I'd like to think that we can earn one of these rings for ourselves. They sure do feel good.
I'd like for everybody on our team to get one."
|© 1994 Orlando Sentinel Communications