Tuesday, December 29, 2015

A Touch of Class


While recruiting is still 99.9% of the focus right now for Ivy League football programs, this is also the time when fans start taking a closer look at which players are coming back for next season.

There was once a time when the team with the biggest number of returning seniors was assured of at least being a serious contender for the title. That's changed for a number of reasons. First, in the years before they got rid of freshman football in 1993 the incoming freshmen classes were huge. They needed to be to make sure a full team could be fielded for the six-game freshmen schedule. A lot of players on those freshmen team weren't even close to being good enough to play for the varsity, let alone last all four years. So... if you were a program that recruited enough durable and decent freshmen who stuck around through senior year, you were probably a very good program.

Much of that is still true, but since recruiting has become a bigger, costlier, and much more national affair, there's a lot less attrition than there used to be in Ivy football. Players are screened a lot more carefully these days and every slot in a given recruiting year isn't given until reasonable assurances are made that the player will stick with the program for his entire college career.

But there's still something to be said for a large and healthy senior class in Ivy football. One reason is that you often get late-bloomer players who finally get to show what they can do after years of nursing injuries or getting buried behind better players on the depth chart. I thought Hunter Little and Hank Trumbull fit that mold this past fall. But there are many other advantages to fielding lots of seniors. 

For the record, Columbia had 20 seniors on the roster in 2015. It was more like 19 because Willie Peoples was injured for the entire season. That's not a bad number by Columbia standards, but usually the sweet spot for returning seniors making a definite impact is about 25 players. 

In 2016, Columbia is going to have a senior football class of probably 25 or 26 players. There are 24 returning juniors and I believe we will get one or two 5th year seniors at least. I know of one who, paperwork pending, I can't mention here but I can say he is an important impact player on offense.

Is this a good omen? Yes. And not for the old reasons Columbia fans used to cling to when we had senior classes of more than 20 players. In the old days, we were just happy to avoid severe attrition, but now we can be reasonably optimistic that these 25+ seniors will make up a decent core of good players.  


InBagnoli WeTrust said...

Jake, was Kevin McCarthy playing through an injury? I saw him out there in every game on special teams and in some situations on defense.

oldlion said...

By the process of elimination my guess for likely fifth year senior is Scooter Hollis: certainly an impact guy on offense, and I seem to recall that he lost one year to injuries.

Jake said...

Yes. I meant Willie Peoples. Got #25 mixed up with #26.

Anonymous said...

Very happy for Hank Trumbull who was one of many players that suffered through Mangurian's horrible reign. He stuck it out despite the obstacles. We never really got to see what he could do at QB in the right system.

Parent said...

Willie was a Jr in 2015

Robert Morrison said...

WR Kaleb Pitts (6-3/175) Hamilton HS, AZ will OV Columbia on January 16th