Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Realistic Crib Notes (UPDATED)

For everyone who wants a quick executive summary of the Columbia Football outlook for 2017, here's what I would consider a brief and just as realistic an assessment:


STRENGTHS

Offensive Line

The Lions lost an All Ivy starter in Kendall Pace, but this returning group has more talent and experience than I can ever remember for a Columbia team coming into a new season. Four returning starters and a couple of other players with significant playing time is not the usual state of things for any Ivy offensive line these days. Plus, there are some good prospects coming up as sophomores now who might be ready to contribute.

Wide Receiver

The combination of sophomores Josh Wainwright and Ronald Smith is one of the most exciting receiving tandems in the Ivies. Fellow sophomore Christian Everett was also a factor last year and has great potential as a third option.

Kicker

Oren Milstein had one of the best kicking seasons in Columbia history as a freshman last season. He's back and he's healthy.


GOOD, BUT NEEDS A BIT OF IMPROVEMENT

Defensive Line

Two top quality veterans return in seniors Lord Hyeamang and Dominic Perkovic. And exciting rising sophomores Daniel DeLorenzi and Arman Samouk join them. But more talent needs to emerge this year to consider the D-line as much of a strength as it turned out to be in 2015.

Quarterback

Anders Hill elevated his game impressively at the end of 2016, but needs to prove he can keep it going. And after Hill, there's simply no evidence of a strong backup at QB for the Lions.

Secondary

I almost put this in the "strengths" column, but let's just be cautious for now. Cameron Roane and Landon Baty are both very talented playmakers at corner and safety, respectively. And pending approval for 5th year status, Denzel Hill was a revelation at CB at the end of last season. Some of the incoming freshmen could make a good impact too.


WEAKNESSES/QUESTION MARKS

Linebacker

I think the linebacker unit will be good, even with loss of all three starters from last season. The rising sophomore group of Jalen Williams, Michael Murphy, and Matt Tofano all looked very good to me last year in limited action and practice. There's also some potential freshman talent to consider. But it's still an assumption and you have to put down this unit as a question mark until we can see it on the field this season.

Tight End

I'm high on sophomore Kyle Baskin, coming back from an injury last season where he was hurt in week one. But this position is really a mystery at best for Columbia.

Running Back

Columbia put a lot of stock in rising sophomore Tanner Thomas when the Lions recruited him, and we have two exciting incoming freshmen in Broderick Taylor and Marquavious Moore. There's also the very fundamentally talented senior Chris Schroer, who could be the man Columbia's opponents will come to regret forgetting if he has the kind of breakout senior seasons his predecessors Alan Watson and Cameron Molina had in 2016 and 2015, respectively. All of which is to say, we really can't bank on this being a strength until something big changes. That said, any significant positive contribution at RB this season would really make Columbia a potential contender.





Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Lionfeeders Updated!

My Lionfeeders data base, with the names of all known Columbia football players and the high schools they came to us from, is now updated to completely include this incoming class.


The Class of 2021 (part 7)

The final three alphabetic members of the incoming freshmen class also just happen to all be contenders for the role of best incoming freshman.

Peter Wise was a highly sought-after OL from a decent football program in Connecticut. Wise seems to be cut from an older school cloth of top Ivy recruits who used to also get offers from Boston College and Rutgers. Looks and sounds like a leader.

Blake Wooden is the second of two Plantation HS grads with NFL veteran dads to come to the Lions this fall. And like that other Plantation grad, Will Allen, Wooden is also a DB. It seems like it's destined for the two of them to both be starting for the Lion secondary sooner rather than later.

Justin Woodley was a major get at LB amid a flurry of real Ivy offers and serious interest from biggest programs. At 6-2 and fast, he has a chance to stand out in Ivy play against the run and pass. The young talent level at the linebacker position for Columbia is unusually high by any standard right now, but don't be shocked if Woodley gets on the field for more than just special teams work this season.




Monday, June 12, 2017

The Class of 2021 (part 7)

Drew Schmid is just what the doctor ordered with the graduations of excellent traditional punter Cameron Nizialek and excellent rugby-style punter Matthew Panton. Schmid is quite simply one of the most well-regarded punters coming out of high school this year. 

Broderick Taylor is an exciting RB recruit who even some hardened Columbia fans are excited about. His highlight tape really stands out as he just seems to keep plugging and he has great speed. Definitely a player a lot of people will be watching in camp to see how close he is to being able to make an immediate impact.

Hank White has a chance to join a decent line of Georgia natives who have become stalwarts on the CU offensive line. His list of other offers bodes well for his potential. 

Ashton Wilson is another 230-pound DE who seems to be fitting a mold the coaches were looking for at that position. Don't be surprised if some of them become linebackers, but has a great shot at getting on the field early on special teams.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Class of 2021 (part 6)

Ogonna Oraedu was a late addition to the class and another DE who could make a big impact when he gets a little bigger. His background identifies him as a good bet to succeed on campus, and that always helps. Apparently switched his commitment from Yale to come to CU.

Carson Powell may be the top linebacker in this class. If he's a legit 6-feet, then he truly has the right frame to fill the slot left by Christian Conway who was something of a hybrid LB/DB for the Lions the last two years. But based on what we saw from the coaches last year, even the best linebacking prospects take more baking time before getting major playing time in this system.

Bailey Rotsky is another 6-foot DB, and we've established that our coaches like 6-foot DB's. He's the son of a successful HS football head coach, and coaches' kids can be interesting prospects. And I like him because I used to live in his home neighborhood of Mayfield Heights, OH.

Jon Rowe is a good bet at OL coming from a linemen factory in Charlotte. If he were an inch or two taller, Columbia and the other Ivies probably wouldn't have had a shot at him. Coaches must love his ability to play guard or tackle.