Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Meet the Leading Lions: Marcorus Garrett


The happiest I ever saw the Norries Wilson coaching staff was the day they got the commitment from Marcorus Garrett back at the end of 2009. 
It wasn't hard to see why. Garrett brings a great combination of athletic ability and experience in a competitive high school conference in the Atlanta area. 

Running backs of any serious quantity and durability are at a greater premium than ever before in the Ivy League. So even before Garrett arrived on campus, there was cause for celebration. 

Career Highlights

-Got onto the field with the varsity in just the second week of his freshman season against Towson, but didn't get his first carry until the following week against Princeton. And that first carry was a memorable one: a 36 yard scamper to set up a 1st Down at the PU 23.

-The following week against Lafayette, Garrett had three carries, caught his first pass, (for just three yards), and also had a fumble recovery.

-Finished his first season with 5 games played and 63 yards rushing.

-Had his first game in the primary RB role against Fordham in the 2011 season opener, but was unable to make an impact geting just 32 yards on 14 carries. Suffered through similar futility the following week against Albany.

-Improved a bit in week three at Princeton with 14 carries for 49 yards and four receptions for 25 yards.

-Scored his first collegiate TD with a nifty 16-yard run against Sacred Heart in week four.

-Scored his second TD a week later in the Homecoming game against Penn

-Had his best game statistically against Dartmouth in week six with 13 carries for 61 yards.

-Was running solidly against Yale in the week seven snow game with 10 carries for 39 yards before going down with what would turn out to be a season ending injury.

Scouting Report

Great speed and ability to change his direction. But suffers from "happy feet" too often; making too many steps without forward strides. Doesn't seem to run to his right as comfortably or as effectively as his right. Looked good in the 2012 spring game.

Jake's Take

How many of Columbia's problems would be solved if Garrett stepped up to play at or close to an All Ivy level? It seems like hundreds. 

We started to get flashes of what Garrett may be able to do in weeks six and seven last year before his injury. If he's ready to pick up where he left off and add that dimension as a receiver, this could be a very big season for #23. 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Welcome Surprise

Nick Durham looked much older and more powerful than this on Sunday

I attended the alumni BBQ on campus Sunday and was pleasantly surprised to meet no less than FIVE incoming new football players at the event.

I was very impressed by Brandon Blackshear, Nick Durham. Cameron Molina, Darin Patmon, and the transfer Jake Wanamaker.  

Durham and Molina especially looked like they were in terrific shape. Wanamaker was very nice and outspoken and obviously excited.

The fact that so many incoming frosh are already on campus and have been here about a month is really encouraging.

Alex Gross, (far right), takes the field 

Alex Gross: MVP!

Alex Gross' '11 stint with his professional team in Austria did not end with a championship, but he did win the league's MVP award which means a tremendous amount because that award is voted on by the coaches.

Gross continues to embody everything Columbia athletics and Columbia overall should stand for.

I can't wait to hear what he'll be doing in his next chapter!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Meet the Leading Lions: Wells Childress


Early in 2011 I learned that the son of NFL great Ray Childress was transferring from Texas A&M to Columbia. 

We later learned that a wise professor at A&M had encouraged the studious Wells Childress to think about making the switch to the Ivy league. 

He had redshirted his first season at A&M, but he appeared at the 2011 spring game looking super big, strong and ready to play. 

When he came into camp it was obvious that Childress could be an impact player in this league, if not right away. 

He now wears his dad's familiar #79.

Career Highlights

-Got into five games with the varsity, but didn't make an impact until week 8 against Harvard when he recorded an 11 yard sack.

-Had a hand in the most important tackle of the season, teaming up with Chris Groth to stop Brown's Matt Sudfeld at the goal line on 4th down in double OT to seal the lone win of the season.

Scouting Report

Has great form, just needs to keep bulking up his strength. 

And there's evidence he has done that; Head Coach Pete Mangurian says Childress was the most improved defensive lineman of the spring.  http://petemangurian.wordpress.com/2012/04/24/the-spring-game-defense/

Jake's Take

Columbia needs Childress to step it up this season and help defend the run aggressively. His personal enthusiasm for the game and life at Columbia are already evident. If he improves as much as advertised, there should be a significant upgrade for Columbia's defense this season. 

Mountain Hawk High


Just in case anyone was hoping that week four opponent Lehigh would be a lot weaker this year after last season's amazing run... well, too bad.

Lehigh is the overwhelming favorite of the Patriot League writers to repeat as champs. The Mountain Hawks grabbed 11 of the 14 first place votes. 

That makes the October 6th game at Lehigh one of the most, if not the most difficult contest of the year for the Lions. 

Princeton has the unfortunate luck to start its season at Lehigh on September 15th, so that's a game result we'll be watching closely.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Meet the Leading Lions: Nick Gerst

22 Days until Training Camp

50 Days until Season Opener


You can't talk about RB Nick Gerst and his Columbia career without mentioning the fact that he has personally become one of the most heated debate topics in Lion history.

Has there ever been a Columbia player more hyped on the chat boards or the comments sections of blogs than senior Nick Gerst?

Well, probably not in the Internet era.

Nick has his fans, and for a football program that needs fans that's a very good thing.

He has his detractors too, and believe it or not, that's a good thing too. Anything is better than being ignored as a program altogether. 

But well before he even came to Columbia, the Gerst fans set the bar very high for the Bergen Catholic grad to meet. 

Career Highlights


Gerst played only on the JV, but made a big impression with some big breakaway runs. (The drumbeat to get him on the field to play with the varsity began almost immediately).


-Broke onto the field with the varsity in the season opener and played in all 10 games, but it wasn't until the week 2 game against Towson that he got his first carry. And for the record, it was a 13 yard gain. Later in the game he scored his first TD on another 13-yard run to make it 21-10 Lions in the eventual 24-10 win. Finished the game with 73 yards on just 11 carries. 

-The week 3 game against Princeton remains Gerst's best game as a Lion to date. Ran for 124 yards on just 17 carries. Also had 3 receptions for 30 yards. Broke a 41-yard gainer in the 2nd quarter.

-Had a decent showing in the Homecoming game against Dartmouth with 38 yards on eight carries and a TD.

-Contributed nicely to the 20-17 win over Cornell in week 8 with 52 yards on eight carries.

-Finished the season with 350 yards rushing on 69 carries with two TD's and 13 receptions for 74 yards.


-Missed the first two games of the season with a hamstring injury. 

-Made his first impact in week four against Sacred Heart with four carries for 30 yards and a TD.

-Hamstring injury recurred and he missed all but 5 games of the season. Finished the year with just 143 yards rushing on 27 carries with two TD's. 

Scouting Report

-Has great speed and drive, but the previous Columbia coaching regime never thought he was durable enough to get anything like 20 carries a game. Gerst's injury troubles so far seem to justify those concerns at least somewhat. 

-Has not yet been utilized enough as a receiving weapon coming out of the backfield. 

-Seems rejuvenated after an innovative new hamstring repair surgery he underwent right after the 2011 season.

Jake's Take

Gerst has matured greatly over the years and knows this is his last chance to do live up to all the fan hype. 

I strongly suspect he is the leading candidate to play the "Wes Welker" role Head Coach Pete Mangurian is going to make a big part of the offensive attack this season. That means we'll see a lot more of Gerst as a receiver on short passing routes. He looked very good in that role in the spring game. 

And with Gerst's younger brother Mike joining the Lions as a freshman this year, I expect Nick's passion for the game to be reignited. 

Columbia needs him to step up his game, or face another season of inconsistent offensive production.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Meet the Leading Lions: Paul Delaney


Lions fans always get excited whenever Columbia grabs a new recruit from Des Werthman's Alma Mater of Loyola Academy in suburban Chicago.  My contacts at that school had very high praise for Delaney even before he committed to Columbia. Delaney came to the program in the recruiting push created by the 2009 kicking debacle when the Norries Wilson staff totally dropped the ball by failing to replace Jon Rocholl '09. The result is that now Columbia still has a good deal of kicking talent on the roster.

Career Highlights

-Finally got his chance to hit the field with the varsity in his sophomore year of 2011.

-Punted 57 times, (when you go 1-9, you're likely to need to punt almost six times a game), even though he split duty with two other punters. 

-Had eight punts of 50+ yards and put 15 kicks inside the 20. 

-Delaney's toughness and talent was best on display in week 7 against Yale in that freak October snow storm. He was battered and even apparently knocked out a few times, but kept coming back. And late in the game, he boomed a 62 yards punt that Yale fumbled at its own five leading to Columbia's last TD in the 16-13 loss. 

Scouting Report

6-3, 215 pound punters don't grow on trees. Delaney's size and strength make him a big asset, especially in the Ivies. Still hard to completely gauge his talents because he hasn't had the best protection.

Jake's Take

Columbia has FIVE kicker/punters on the roster coming into the season, and I can't imagine Head Coach Pete Mangurian is happy about that. Punters Greg Guttas and Tyler Feely have strong talent, but Delaney has shown the best consistency so far. 

Columbia will move to that rugby-style "protect the punter" formation this year, and that could really boost Delaney's numbers in a big way. 

Well Represented

It may not be The Sporting News, but I'm grateful that the College Sports Madness website is continuing to cover the Ivies and posting another preseason All Ivy list.

Big time preseason favorite Harvard dominates the list with 16 players, eight of them on the 1st team. What's puzzling is that they also pick Harvard Coach Tim Murphy as the choice for coach of the year. I mean with all those top players, why is Murphy expected to do the best job this year?

Eight Lions made the list, including two on the first team. The big surprise was INCOMING FROSH linebacker Alec Davison making the 3rd team. Yes, we all think Davison is a super recruit, but it's a stretch to predict he'll be as good as an honorable mention All Ivy when it's really not even clear he'll crack the starting lineup. 

On the other hand, giving Davison this kind of recognition is really a great vote of confidence to Head Coach Pete Mangurian and his staff for keeping this recruit roped in even after last season imploded and the previous coaching staff, (that initially recruited Davison of course), was wiped out. 
Sean Brackett made the 2nd team at QB, not too shabby since returning Bushnell Cup winner Jeff Mathews was a shoo-in for 1st team at that position. 

On the 1st team, we have OL Scott Ward and Josh Martin who was listed as a LB even though he's going back to the D-line this season. 

I was especially happy to see punter Paul Delaney on the 2nd team and Alec Fisher, who went through a real trial by fire as a freshman last season, make the 3rd team.

New Strength Coach

Yesterday, Columbia named Ryan Cidzik as the new strength conditioning coach for football and all outdoor sports.

It may come as a surprise for many of you to learn that the search process for Cidzik was actually MUCH more extensive than the search for Mangurian back in December.

One of Mangurian's first priorities when he first arrived was to overhaul this strength program and a true national search was undertaken.

Cidzik spent two years as an assistant strength and conditioning coach in the NFL. He was with the Jets in 2009 and the Browns before that. Last year he was the director of strength and conditioning for the University of Memphis football program.

Cidzik is considered by many to be one of the nation's most sought-after coaches on the topic of concussion prevention for football players. 

It can't be overstated how important this position is for the Lions, who must overcome multiple areas where they were simply not prepared to win in recent years. That preparation starts in the weight room.

And here's a look at what he can do in the weight room himself!


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Meet the Leading Lions: Luke Eddy

Luke Eddy with fellow great Lion kicker Larry Walsh '86


There are few paths to college football that are as unique as Luke Eddy's. 

The Worcester Academy grad was committed to playing soccer in high school, until the start of his senior year when he first took up placekicking.

He did so well that some college recruiters scrambled to grab him, and Columbia won the race in the end. 

Career Highlights


-Got onto the field in just the second game of the year, going a perfect 3-3 in PAT's and nailing a 37-yard FG in the 24-10 win over Towson.

-Did his first kicking off duty the following week against Princeton, booming two kicks for an average of 65 yards while going a perfect 6-6 in PAT's.

-Boomed a 48-yard FG and a 34-yarder in the 27-13 loss at Penn in week 5.

-Set a new record with 27 straight PAT's made before missing his final attempt of the season at Brown 


-Made a 35-yard FG under extreme pressure late in the Homecoming game against Penn after a series of penalties pushed the Lions back from a 1st and Goal situation.

-Made a tough PAT in the snow after a penalty pushed the Lions back to keep things close in the week 7 loss to Yale.

-Was a perfect 5-5 on PAT's in the no-room-for-error double OT win over Brown in the season finale. 

Scouting Report

Has the strongest leg in the Ivies, but still needs to work on the fundamentals. Came late to the kicking game and sometimes it shows. 

Tremendous potential to break the all-time longest FG record in CU history, (50 yards by Matt Pollard '89 in 1988)

Should be able to contribute more on kickoffs this season now that the kicks are being moved back up to the 35 yard line. 

Jake's Take

The previous coaching staff's failures to properly prepare this team were no more evident than on special teams. Eddy, a latecomer to kicking, needed more work with his coaches and not less. His enthusiasm and great work ethic helped him avoid serious problems in his first year, but he ran into some roadblocks last season. Hopefully, the new staff is working with him to regain his well-deserved confidence and set him on the path to a possible NFL career. 

Yeah, his leg is that strong. (Check out how his PAT's just keep going higher and higher through the uprights if you don't believe me). 

And with no known incoming kickers this season, it seems like putting more time and faith into Eddy is exactly what the coaches have decided to do. 

Stop the Madness

I know it's still the slow summer period, but can the athletic department website please put a moratorium on future "stories" like this one

We are sports fans, and none of us gives a hoot about a speech Dianne Murphy gives somewhere. Honestly, I don't think anyone on her staff has the guts to tell her this, or worse: they think she'll be pleased to see a story like this even though she didn't ask for the coverage in the first place.

This only annoys me because even some of our longtime fans couldn't name more than three players on our football team. They would really appreciate a special series of profiles on the team during these months leading up to the season. I'm sure something like that will appear on the site sometime in the 2-3 weeks before the season, but that's not enough time to really give as many players as much exposure as possible. This is the time, in fact it's past time to do this. 

And that's why I started my player profiles early last month. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Get on the Phone!

The Ivy League has set Tuesday August 7th as the date for the annual preseason football coaches teleconference. 

The event will begin at 11am and I will be on the call hoping to pepper the coaches will as many questions as I can. 

There are a lot of burning questions that really NEED to be asked of each coach. Here are my top questions for each coach, (other than our own Head Coach Pete Mangurian):

Brown Head Coach Phil Estes: Why should we believe that your completely untested new QB will be as good as your last three great QB's.

Cornell Head Coach Kent Austin: Defense wins championships. How have you upgraded you defense to make all those points Jeff Mathews produces stand up?

Dartmouth Head Coach Buddy Teevens: Why haven't you been able to bring in even one All Ivy level QB in all the years since you returned to Hanover in 2005?

Harvard Head Coach Tim Murphy: What are you doing to end the recent trend of not being able to beat top opponents like Brown and Penn on the road? 

Penn Head Coach Al Bagnoli: This is the 6th or 7th straight year that it's been painfully obvious that you need to upgrade your passing game. What's different this year that leads you to believe that you're finally getting there?

Princeton Head Coach Bob Surace: How many wins do you think you need to get this year to keep your job?

Yale Head Coach Tony Reno: How wounded is this team and this program after losing their coach the way it lost him last winter? 

Penn State Transfers?

Speaking of burning up the phones, the harsh penalties handed down to Penn State early yesterday included a suspension of all the transfer rules. 

That means any Ivy school can grab a scholarship BCS athlete who is academically eligible and essentially have Penn State pay for his education. 

If Coach Mangurian and his staff aren't on the phones right now trying to contact a few of these guys these guys, I would be surprised and disappointed. 

We might want to try for this young man, Brad Bars, a very solid student recruited by Harvard, Princeton and Brown and one of the best players to come out of the talent-rich state of Tennessee in his graduation year. 

Why would a BCS-level player want to come to the Ivy League?

Because maybe after this ordeal, one or two Penn state players have learned to put the "football is the only thing" mentality behind them. Perhaps they might see that the best way to get this scandal behind them is to grab a rare diploma from an Ivy League school on another school's dime and then no one will doubt their priorities. 

And this has happened before.

When SMU got the death penalty in 1987,Columbia snagged Columbia snagged a good player in senior John Robinson. 

Robinson played well that year and has gone on to some good success as collegiate sports administrator. 

I don't mean to be crass. Obviously, I'd rather do something good for the victims in this Jerry Sandusky case and not just be an opportunist. 

But I have to believe there are some smart and motivated young men on the Penn State roster who deserve a chance to emerge from this atrocity.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Lesson for All

26 Days until Training Camp

54 Days until the Season Opener

A 9am today, the NCAA will announce the punishment for Penn State due to the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

I suppose barring the team from bowl games for a year or two and revoking some scholarships should teach the school about how it got its priorities way out of whack, but that's probably wishful thinking.

A lot of Ivy fans like us have been sitting on our high horses throughout this ordeal, reminding everyone that our league may not be "big time," but at least it long ago settled the issue of how important football is compared to academics and basic decency.

But even the Ivy schools had better take notice of what happens today and make sure they're all putting the long-term priorities of its athletes ahead of any other kinds of distractions along the way.

Schedule Update

All the game times have now been set for the 2012 season with the week 5 game at Penn now slated for 1pm. The Lions have not beaten the Quakers since an OT win at Franklin Field in 1996.

The week 7 nationally televised game vs. Yale on the YES Network is now scheduled for 12:30, but don't be surprised if that's moved to 12 noon. YES network's Yale broadcasts have often started at that time.

The Right Man for the Job

In case anyone was wondering, the Columbia assistant coach in charge of recruiting the Chicago area is none other than former Bears WR and Lion WR coach Wendell Davis. 

Sure, none of the prospective players now are old enough to remember his playing days at Soldier Field... but their fathers remember.

And that counts for something!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Meet the Leading Lions: Nick Melka

Melka gets his man


Culled from the football and academically-rich world of the suburban Chicago private schools, Nick Melka came in just after making the All Catholic League first team.

Like so many of the Chicago-area players who have joined the Lions in recent years, Melka surprised the coaches with his ability to pick up the system quickly and make an impact.

Career Highlights

 -Made a rare appearance with the varsity as a freshman and got into one game against Lafayette in week four. Actually was credited with a QB hurry in that one appearance.

-Played in all 10 games in 2011, but made his first real impact in week 3 at Princeton with two tackles including one for a loss.

-Was a rare bright spot in the week 6 debacle against Dartmouth, recording four tackles including one for a loss.

-Had another four tackles including one for a loss in the week 7 snow game against Yale.

-A week later against Harvard had yet another four tackle day with a sack. Also had a QB hurry.

-Started his first varsity game in week 9 at Cornell and started in the lone win of the season in week 10.

Scouting Report 

-A bit undersized, but gets after the runners well with good speed.

-Very good head on his shoulders, makes it impossible to keep him on the bench.

Jake's Take

Even though Columbia has a bevvy of talented DE's, Melka still stands out. He may not start every game, but he will be a factor and no one should be too surprised if he plays All Ivy caliber football.

Setting the Tone

Step on it!

A good story from spring practice that should tell you something about what Head Coach Pete Mangurian is expecting... of EVERYONE.

We all know that Coach Mangurian has changed practice time to early in the AM to help avoid class conflicts. The players really complied and got into the crack of dawn routine. And leaving campus at that early hour gets the guys to Baker in like 15 minutes or even less.

But one day when a two of the Academy Bus drivers didn't show up on time to pick the team up at Morningside, Mangurian made sure they were fired.

End of story.

Anyone want to try to show up to any games late now?

Back on the Air

29 Days until Training Camp

57 Days until the Season Opener

It turns out the reports were false that the Ivy League deal with Versus would be exclusive.

The "Yale on Yes" package, (for which Yale pays for), has been renewed.

And that's good news for Lions fans hoping for some TV coverage this season.

The package will kick off in week 7  with the Yale game at Columbia. Remember, the Lions get a second straight home game against the Elis this season because of a league-wide schedule adjustment.

I consider the Yale game to be one of the prime winnable contests for Columbia this fall, and beating the Elis on national TV would be sweet indeed.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Meet the Leading Lions: Mike Waller

Mike Waller, right, on signing day 2009


There ought to be more stories in Columbia football like story of senior Mike Waller.

He's a player who worked hard in almost complete obscurity during his first two seasons, playing only with the JV and enjoying no "buzz." 

But he kept getting better and he came "out of nowhere" to log an extremely impressive first year with the varsity in 2011.

Waller started at Columbia with perhaps a bit of a disadvantage. That's because his brother Tim had been a commit to join the Lions a year before, only to change his commitment to Georgetown a few weeks later. 

At 6-2 and 22 pounds, Waller is almost the perfect size to be an impact Ivy League linebacker. 

Career Highlights

-Busted out in a big way when he first hit the field with the varsity. Got the start in the 2011 season opener and had six tackles including a tackle for a loss against Fordham. Showed tremendous hustle as well. 

-Stood out in the snow-bound game against Yale with seven total tackles including two tackles for a loss.

-Had two sacks and a fumble recovery against Harvard as the Lions gave the eventual Ivy champs a surprising run for its money.

-Finished the season with 47 total tackles, nine for a loss, and two sacks.

Scouting Report

Hustle, hustle, hustle. Waller gets across the field fast and with a purpose on every play. 

At 6-2, he's tall for an Ivy LB and should disrupt the passing game more often. 

Tackles well, knows the fundamentals.

Jake's Take 

Waller seems poised for a monster senior season and seems to have Head Coach Pete Mangurian's confidence. Waller's main job seems to be to cut off the outside running game so guys like fellow linebacker Ryan Murphy can go after the QB. 

So like so many other defensive stars, Waller's effectiveness relies heavily on a step up in play for the Lion DT's plugging up the opposing runners up the middle. If that happens, watch Waller's stats go through the roof in 2012! 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Meet the Leading Lions: Seyi Adebayo


When Adebyo first stepped onto campus in early 2009, everyone who saw him knew he was going to make a great college football player. He was then, and remains now, just about the best athletic specimen most of us have every seen. 

Year by Year

2009: Became a rare freshman defensive lineman to break into the lineup with the varsity. Got onto the field five times, including the 38-0 win over Princeton. Finished the season with four tackles.

2010: Won the starting job at defensive end, and beefed his stats up to 11 eleven tackles, but did not make a huge impact at the position.

2011: Remained as the primary starter and made a bigger impact with 24 total tackles, two sacks and seven total tackles for a loss. 


-Came out like gangbusters in the early going of the 2011 season opener at Fordham with four total tackles, three tackles for a loss including a sack all in just the 1st quarter.

-Had the huge fumble recovery early in the 4th quarter of the 2011 season finale against Brown that turned the game around for the Lions.

Scouting Report

Fast, strong and big with all the tools to become a premiere impact player in the league. Has been hampered by some weaknesses at the defensive tackle position at Columbia that has led to reduced opportunities for the defensive ends. Started playing with more intensity in 2011, something he'll need to draw on for his senior season.

Jake's Take

Adebayo is under the radar for most Ivy watchers and they could be in for a very rude awakening this season if he finally breaks out. 

After the horrific loss to Penn at Homecoming, then Head Coach Norries Wilson temporarily "kicked" Adebayo off the team because he threw his helmet down in anger on the sideline. Wilson reversed his decision a day or two later, (something that was wise since those kinds of outbursts were something Wilson was famous for himself), but the incident showed me something about how much Adebayo wants to succeed and get this team to start winning. 

Now's his chance to make that happen with his helmet still strapped ON.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Meet the Leading Lions: Scott Ward

Ike likes better protection up front!

Scott Ward


We first learned about Scott's commitment to Columbia back in January of 2009. 

He was only about 240 pounds in high school, forcing him to spend that freshman year gaining the right kind of weight. He's currently at 278 pounds. 

Career Highlights

I always feel like offensive linemen get ripped off in the sports media. You just don't have the stats to point to in order to make an objective comment. 

But I have no problem saying that Scott Ward has been an outstanding right tackle and the picture of determination for years.

Ward got his first start in week one of his sophomore year, a true rarity for someone that young on the offensive line. 

After that 2010 season, Ward found himself on a NFL Draft watch list going into last season. 

And after the 2011 season, Ward was named Honorable Mention All Ivy.

Scouting Report

Has great height at 6-7, possibly his best attribute. 

Ward has had to battle injuries in both of his seasons with the varsity, but he always comes back stronger. 

You might notice that when Brackett runs, he usually runs to his right. That has a lot to with Ward. 

Jake's Take

With standout players like Jeff Adams and Bob Hauschildt gone to graduation, Ward needs to be the leader for the Lion offensive line in 2012. I can personally guarantee the league's other pundits will denigrate this line in every preseason prediction. And in so doing, they will almost surely ignore the fact that Ward is a returning All Ivy player. 


With 60 days until the season opener, it occurs to me that we don't know who the team captain or captains will be.

I can only guess that they will be named sometime just before or during training camp. 

But here are the players I would name as captains if it were up to me:

QB Sean Brackett

Kind of a no-brainer because when you're a senior, the biggest star on the team and the QB, you really should be one of the captains. 

Okay, I wanted to name a few more guys but I am having trouble making a guess as to who are the emotional leaders for this team behind the scenes.

I can list the names of the other top senior stars: Josh Martin, Seyi Adebayo, Scott Ward, Mike Waller, and Ryan Murphy. But I don't know if they all fit the profile. 

I know some must be natural leaders, and there are probably some juniors ready to step up too. 

But all we can do right now is guess. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

33 Days to Training Camp

61 Days to the Season Opener

Football at Trinity Pawling

I wrote about the essential need to improve the defensive tackle play this fall at Columbia, and while do so I couldn't help but think about the immediate upgrade the Lions got in 2008 when Owen Fraser '12 joined the team.

And just by coincidence, I happened to drive right past Fraser's high school yesterday. The football field at Trinity Pawling is directly on the road up to the Berkshires summer camp I was visiting.

Fraser burst onto the scene as a freshman and immediately upgraded the Lion run defense. He was big ans fast and determined on ever play. He was named Honorable Mention All Ivy.

Then in the 2009 season opener at Fordham, he was chop blocked on a dirty play and was never the same after that. A terrible stroke of luck for Columbia in every way.

The Lions need that luck to turn around this year with freshman like Niko Padilla and Daren Napier.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Looking for a Step Up

35 Days Until Training Camp

63 Days Until the Season Opener

IFA Dinner Awardees Announced

The Ivy Football Association has announced the names of each school's awardees at the IFA dinner early next year.

Columbia's honoree will be Marcellus Wiley '97, whose resume has become well-known to just about every Ivy football fan.

What's interesting is that Wiley is being honored while he's still in his 30's, and I'm willing to bet that's a record in IFA history.

Another Melka on the Way?

Rising junior defensive end Nick Melka's brother Charles is on the scouting radar for a lot of schools. 

Like his brother and rising sophomore Lion WR Connor Nelligan, the younger Melka is a product of Benet Academy in the Chicago suburbs. 

Unlike the older Melka, Charles is already 6-4 and getting bigger. 

Jonesing for the DT's

I'll do a more in-depth profile if Nick Melka in the coming weeks, but suffice it to say that he is part of an impressive group of pass rushing DE's on the Columbia roster. 

That group is led by seniors Josh Martin and Seyi Adebayo, with big time help from Melka, sophomore Chad Washington and senior Will Patterson. Throw in the pass-rushing prowess of senior LB Ryan Murphy, and you have a lot of nervous QB's at the other seven Ivy schools this fall.

But the pass rush won't be able to kick in unless Columbia does a better job of stopping the run. And that means a handful of talented defensive tackles on the Lion roster really need to step things up. 

New defensive line coach Alvin Smith, who was an All Pac-10 defensive lineman at Oregon State, will need to get more out of the three returning DT's with significant playing time. They are junior Wells Childress, senior Greg Lee, senior Shad Sommers, and sophomore Eric Stock. 

The good news is Childress had an excellent spring, earning Head Coach Pete Mangurian's specific praise in his write-up of the spring game.

Magurian also wrote about Lee's improvement at what would be the nose tackle slot.

Sommers has been kind of an under-the-radar player over the last three years, but he did register three sacks last season.

A lot of Columbia fans are excited about the potential from Stock. He was a late addition to the 2011 recruiting class and he did get into a varsity game as a freshman.

And then there are two extremely talented incoming freshmen DT's who could make an impact right away.
They are Niko Padilla and Daren Napier, both out Texas. It's rare for freshmen to get a chance to play on either the D-line or the O-line in college, but we may see some exceptions to that rule this fall. 

The battle for those starting spots begins in just five weeks.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Meet the Leading Lions: Ryan Murphy

Ryan Murphy vs. Towson, 2010


Ryan Murphy was yet another one of former assistant coach Greg Sigler's great Texas recruits back in late 2008/early 2009.

Some skeptics looked at his academic all state honors out of Alamo Heights High School in San Antonio and assumed he was one of those kids they bring in to conform to academic banding.

But insiders knew better. Murphy was a blistering fast player with a real nose for the football.

After a year on JV, Murphy started getting serious playing time in his sophomore season of 2010 before becoming a starter in 2011. 

Year by Year Results

2010: In his first year with the varsity, had 26 total tackles including four sacks. 

2011: Upped his totals to 43 tackles including five sacks in his first full year as a starter. 

Best Moments

-Burst onto the scene in week two of the 2010 season with four tackles including a sack against Towson. Columbia won, 24-10.

-A week later in the 42-14 rout over Princeton, Murphy really busted out with nine total tackles and another sack. 

-Was considerably quieter on the stat sheet for the rest of the season except for the week 9 win over Cornell when he had two sacks in that come- from-behind thriller.

-In the Homecoming heartbreaker loss to Penn in 2011, Murphy had another two sacks to help keep Columbia close.

-Sacked Cornell QB Jeff Mathews for a 12-yard loss in the week 9 shootout loss in Ithaca, meaning Murphy has personally sacked Mathews three times.

-In the week 10 2011 thriller against Brown, Murphy was a key factor in the win. He finished with six tackles, two sacks, one forced fumble and a pass break up. Those two sacks were the turning points in the game. With Brown leading 21-7 in the 4th quarter, Murphy sacked Brown QB Kyle Newhall-Caballero for a nine-yard loss and forced a fumble that was recovered at the Bear 46 by Seyi Adebayo. Columbia marched those 46 yards to a TD on that possession to make it 21-14
On the next Brown possession, Murphy sacked Newhall-Caballero for an 11-yard loss to the Brown 5 to force a three-and-out. On the ensuing Lion possession, Columbia scored the tying TD. 

One the second-to-last play of the game, Murphy was in on the tackle that held Bear RB Mark Kachmer to a no gain on 3rd and goal at the Lion one yard line. 

Scouting Report

Great pass rusher who can out maneuver just about any blocker at the Ivy League level. 

Has good hands and instincts defending against the pass, especially when the ball's still in the air.

Needs to be more consistent and tough against the run. 

Jake's Take

Murphy is another one of those players whose personal success is very much tied to the team's success. As guys like Murphy, Martin and Brackett go, so go the Lions. 

We knew this coming into last season and while Murphy was a great factor, he wasn't consistent enough to help Columbia to more than one win. 

If he steps things up enough to log an All Ivy season, Columbia's chances to climb well out of the cellar will increase strongly.