Monday, May 21, 2018

Standing Out

With a couple more days to ponder the now-official list of incoming football freshmen, here are some key points of note:

1) After a long period of seeing fewer and fewer Engineering students on the football team, we have a real bumper crop of SEAS enrollees in this freshmen class. Six of them are enrolled in Columbia Engineering when the entire remainder of the team has only three SEAS students. But among those three are superstar WR Ronald Smith, and two very promising sophomores in QB Dillon Davis and DL Ogonna Oraedu. Get the picture?

When Norries Wilson was the head coach, he talked about how scheduling conflicts made it very hard for Engineering students to make it on the team. I assume Head Coach Al Bagnoli has helped to resolve these issues, thus helping to broaden Columbia's recruiting horizons. Being able to recruit and admit students with talents and transcripts more geared, (no pun intended), to Engineering is a big deal.

2) On the coaching side, I've been lax in reporting that Joe D'Orazio is back on the staff. He had been coaching tight ends in 2015, but is now overseeing the running backs. Joe is very dedicated to Coach Bagnoli and the idea of college coaching above all. The fact that he kept contributing in any way he could to Columbia Football during his two years gone from the program tell you all you need to know.

3) More and more, I hear players and parents telling me how relieved they are that QB coach Ricky Santos stuck with Columbia over some strong offers from Brown and his Alma Mater New Hampshire. The crucial work needed to prepare a new Lions starter at QB will be a lot easier with Santos and his talents and continuity on board.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

The 2018 Freshmen

Columbia has unveiled the names of the 39 incoming freshmen football players for this coming fall.

The list is 39 players long, includes two names we didn't know about previously, and only has one name missing from the final unofficial list I compiled on signing day back in February.

First, let's get to the two new names.

Conner Collins

6-5, 270-pound OL Conner Collins from Myers Park HS in Charlotte, North Carolina was a Harvard commit as recently as National Signing Day in February. Collins will be the first Myers HS grad to come to Columbia Football.

5-11, 180-pound WR Ernest Robinson was a four year starter at Riverdale Country Day School and two-time MVP of his high school league. Robinson will be the seventh Riverdale grad to come to Columbia Football and the first since Evan Alvarez '11.

The one player we had on our unofficial lists who did not show up on this final list was Long Snapper Keaton Prevette, but let's see if he still shows up on the roster in the fall as a possible walk-on.

In the coming days, my LionFeeders database of all the documented players to come to Columbia Football listed by their high schools will be officially updated.

Based on the highlight videos, I pinpoint 11 incoming players who really stand out as of now. This is just my opinion, of course. My list is below with a very brief comment for each name:

1. Jordan Colbert CB (fast, good cover guy serious offers)

2. Connor Collins OL (experienced OL)

3. Cam Dillion LB (hitter, serious offers)

4. John Foreback QB (good size, big upside)

5. Jackson Heath TE (serious offers from other schools, looks tough)

6. Marquis Hubbard LB (hitter)

7. Derric Lee CB (lots of key offers, another Harvard decommit)

8. Dante Miller RB (JMU decommit, speed demon)

9. Mozes Mooney WR (all the tools, massive number of quality offers)

10. Mitchell Shinskie DL (quick DL, good offers)

11. Joshua Smythe-Macaulay LB (hitter, good offers)

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Al's Pitch

We all know the best pitch for Columbia Football when it comes to recruiting.

But rarely have I heard it as well articulated as Head Coach Al Bagnoli made it on a Florida sports radio show last night, (click here for the show, Bagnoli's segment begins about 34 minutes into the tape).

As we await the official release of our 2018 freshmen class, hold off on any doubts you may have until you hear Coach Bagnoli on this program. And remember, these are also words spoken by a guy with nine Ivy League titles and has already turned around a 24-game losing streak team into an 8-2 championship contender in such a short amount of time. 

Monday, April 23, 2018

Spring Game 2018

With five more months to go until the season, you need a good book to pass the time (More on that later)

It's been a brutal "spring" here in New York as far as the weather goes, but Saturday's warmer temperatures and clear skies set a great stage for the 2018 spring game and the conclusion of Head Coach Al Bagnoli's fourth spring practice since becoming head coach in early 2015.

Overall, the depth and talent on the team is so much improved from 2015 that it's impossible to express that fact in words. But it's worth trying to write it down just for the record.

In bullet point form, here are the 10 highlights as I saw them:

1) They put red jerseys without numbers on all five QB's, so it was often hard to tell who was in the game at any given moment. But it was clear that rising sophomores Josh Bean and Dillon Davis were getting most of the snaps. Both looked pretty good, making a lot of deep throws, especially down the sidelines. Sources tell me Bean is considered the front runner for the starting job at this moment, but almost everyone also believes Davis will get at least significant playing time.

After the game, Bean told he felt good about his chances and also that he'd like to run the ball more than he was allowed to in the spring game for obvious reasons.

2) Rising junior WR Ronald Smith was simply a thing of beauty along the sidelines. Despite the fact that rising junior CB Ben McKeighan was doing an excellent job in coverage every time, Smith was able to get just enough space to make acrobatic grab after grab.

3) The other star Lion WR, Josh Wainwright, was open quite often down the seam and had a stellar game as well. It certainly doesn't look like any of the QB's are out of sync with Columbia's historically deep and talented corps of receivers.

4) The defense was dominant against the run, but also seemed to control the line of scrimmage much of the time. Rising sophomore LB Justin Woodley had some standout plays, especially a screen pass that he absolutely blew up for a big loss.

5) The offensive looked better and bigger than we've seen it in a long time. I'm not going to count the weak running game against them with all the transition going on there.

6) The competition was fierce at times, as evidenced by a short after-the-whistle altercation between rising juniors DL Arman Samouk and OL Joe Scowden. 

7) The secondary looked good despite the amazing catches so many receivers were making all day. Honestly, it would take a top level FBS group of DB's to shut down our receivers at this point.

8) The only two significant injured players in attendance were LB Michael Murphy, who looks like he's recovering nicely from his ACL tear against Harvard last season, and WR Christian Everett, who didn't seem seriously hurt.

9) The D-line had a lot of added quickness and even some bulk. Rising senior Mike Hinton was bigger, and rising sophomores Cooper Wilson, Andrew Nichols, and Ogonna Oraedu looked fast. Samouk was tough even on plays that didn't end in scuffles. Daniel DeLorenzi looked good and recovered from his injury issues last year.

10) The kicking game seemed generally fine. Rising senior Chris Alleyne may be more than just the kickoff specialist this fall based on some of his booming punts. Rising sophomore P Drew Schmid had a few too. K Oren Milstein looked solid.

Again, overall this may have been the most encouraging spring game we've ever seen. The main question about the 2018 Lions will be all about the QB position, and there was no need for despair about that position based on what we saw Saturday.

Abbruzzese can write!

All-time great Columbia RB Greg Abbruzzese '91 has put together a fine new novel that combines suspense, action, good ol' South Boston lingo, and... Ivy League Football.

Yes, it's true. He somehow managed to get all those themes together in a book that I'd call a fun combination of "The Departed," "Love Story," and "Everybody's All American."

Buy your copy today by clicking here. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

2019 Offerees, part 5

*The following is the fifth of a running list of high school players Columbia Football has offered for 2019, according to those players' Twitter accounts. Remember, these are high school kids, so keep your remarks about them measured

Helix High, La Mesa, CA
  • Positions: MLB, TE
  • 6'2" 220lbs
  • 3-Star (247 Sports)

  • Columbia
  • Army
  • San Diego State
  • Utah State

Reagan High, San Antonio, TX
  • Positions: OLB, SS
  • Height & Weight:6'3" 201lbs

Missouri State
Southeastern Louisiana
Texas State

Klein Collins High, Spring, TX
  • Positions: WR
  • Height & Weight: 6'4" 190lbs
  • 40 Yard Dash: 4.6

Seneca Valley High, Harmony, PA
  • Positions:MLB, TE
  • Height & Weight:6'2" 220lbs
  • 40 Yard Dash: 4.8



Cathedral High, Indianapolis, IN
  • Positions: CB, WR
  • Height & Weight: 6'2" 170lbs

Ball State
Bowling Green
Eastern Michigan