Friday, May 27, 2016

Schedule Previews: St. Francis

With the official list of the incoming freshmen now out, it's time to focus on the 2016 schedule.

And the best place to start is with first-ever opponent St. Francis University, as Columbia will play the Red Flash in the season opener at home on September 17th.

St. Francis is located in Loretto, PA about about midway between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh. The school is tiny, with just more than 1,800 undergrads. Only about 730 of those undergrads are men, so the football team makes up well over 10% of the entire male undergraduate population. (By contrast, Columbia would have to have well over 400 players on its football team to represent 10% of the total male undergrad population at the College, Engineering, and School of General Studies).

About a third of the team is extremely locally-grown and from the general Central Pennsylvania area. The states of Ohio and New Jersey are well represented on the roster too.

On the field, the Red Flash seems like a pretty good opponent. They went 6-4 last year with blowout wins over Georgetown, East Tennessee State, and Wagner, and some guttier wins over Central Connecticut State, Robert Morris, and Sacred Heart.

The Red Flash's starting QB from last year, Zach Drayer, is back. Last season the pocket passing Drayer put up very good numbers, completing 61% of his passes for 1,977 yards, 15 TD's and 9 INT. He had his best game in one of his teams most impressive wins, the 23-14 win over Sacred Heart where he completed 65% of his passes for 291 yards, two TD's and one INT. Drayer also does most of the punting, and had a decent 35-yard average last season.

Leading 2015 rusher Khairi Dickson has graduated after rushing for 1,003 yards and eight TD's last year. But junior Marcus Bagley is back after notching three 100+-yard rushing games last year, including 272 combined yards rushing on 31 carries in the first two games of the season.

The receiving corps has been absolutely gutted by graduation. The top four players in 2015 receiving yards are all gone, leaving sophomore Kamron Lewis as the most proven veteran even though he only had 11 catches last season for 107 yards and no TD's.

The best news for the Red Flash is the fact that four starters return on an excellent offensive line, including three All-NEC players. With an O-line like this, St. Francis can do lots of damage.

On defense, 1st Team NEC DB Lorenzo Jerome is back. Jerome is also a lethal kick returner and was named an All American at that position by Stats FCS.  James averaged more than 31 yards per kickoff return, including a 99-yarder for a TD and one other TD. Also back is monster Nose Tackle Wesley Nagaseu, a 310-pounder and All NEC selection. Nagaseu's fellow Hawaiian LB Solomon Leaeno is back after notching 12.5 tackles for a loss and four sacks last season. Junior DL Luke Weiss had a strong 2015 as well.

Placekicker Lance Geesey is yet another 1st Team All NEC player coming back for the Red Flash. He hit 94% of his field goal attempts last year, including a long of 46 yards.

Bottom line: this is a very good looking team and certainly isn't much of a downgrade from Fordham. But hey, bring 'em on!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Class of 2020 Names Officially Released

Michael Murphy

The athletics website has now officially released the names of the incoming new football players for 2016.

39 new names appear on the roster, leaving me two short of the 41 I had reported. But one "missing" player did Tweet he was joining the team. That was Christian Boujaoude. I do not know why he's not on the roster yet.

So who's our one truly "missing" player?

That would be speedy WR Will Ontiveros. I'm not sure if he has declared for another school or anything like that. His Twitter feed is quiet on the subject.

Also "missing" is any news on transfers, so I have to guess that there will be no transfers this year. It's not like we were promised any transfers, so we can't say we're disappointed.

Now that the list is official, I will have my LionFeeders database of all the documented players coming to Columbia football and their high schools updated later today.

I like a tremendous amount of these incoming players. I had a hard time choosing 3-4 guys to talk more about, so I decided to go with ten, (and I could have done a lot more).

WR Josh Wainwright

A flipped commitment from Northern Arizona to CU, so his college career starts with making a very good choice. Talent-wise, he's looking pretty good too.

DB Michael Murphy

A lot of recruiting experts were salivating over this guy. His dad played for Penn. 

DL Alex Robin

If you didn't KNOW I was going to cheer about a 280-pound DT from a competitive Alabama high school conference... well, you just don't know me at all.

RB Lynnard Rose

Another young man who made the good decision to go Ivy when he must have been under extreme pressure to stay home and follow the great family tradition at U. Houston. His dad is Lynden Rose of Phi Slamma Jamma fame. More importantly, Rose has good agility and quickness and the coaches seemed over the moon when he committed.

RB Tanner Thomas

Thomas was already committed to Columbia before he began a monster senior season with week after week of 150-yard-plus performances.

QB Matt Dame

Made news when he got an offer from University of Miami, but smartly spurned "the U." for the Ivy League. He's got a shot to make a lot of noise before he's done.

K Oren Milstein

I can't remember Columbia bringing in a more heralded kicker.

LB William McQuinn

An intriguing part of the team, and maybe can be technically called a transfer as he started out at the U.S. Air Force Academy last year.

DL Arman Samouk

Another very big D-lineman from good football country. You just can't have too many of those.

DL Michael Geraghty

A team captain from a national powerhous like Bishop Gorman is hard to ignore.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Waiting on an Official List

On Friday, the official Columbia Football Twitter feed helped 33 of the incoming football freshmen officially announce they were "joining the pride." Each of the players Tweeting had their images put on a virtual "baseball card" that looked pretty cool.

But that leaves seven players reportedly coming to Columbia who for some reason did not join the Friday Twitter party. And that's why I'm waiting on an official release from the athletics website to assess our actual incoming haul.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Princeton's Class

Kevin Davidson, (yes he looks mighty young)

Princeton has officially announced its class of 30 incoming freshmen.

The first thing that jumps out at me about this class is that includes six offensive lineman and a long snapper. I suspect that Head Coach and former O-lineman Bob Surace hasn't been happy with the overall results in that unit and he wants to start a reboot.

Alex Deters from the great St. Xavier HS may be the best of the incoming O-linemen. I assume

In my ongoing quest to single out promising big defensive linemen, Matt Hamson out of Pittsburgh looks pretty good for the Tigers.

WR Andrew Griffin also seems like a significant "get."

And QB Kevin Davidson is a possible future start.

Overall though, this Princeton class does not look as impressive as Penn's class or even as much of an upgrade-from-its-norm that Cornell's class appears to be.

Columbia, Brown, and Yale are now the only Ivy schools not to announce their freshmen and newcomers. But I don't expect Columbia to take more than another eight days to do so.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Need for Speed

Kaleb O'Bryant

A good deal of the players offered by the Columbia coaches touring the country this month are fast. Netting one or two of them would certainly change the nature of the Lion offensive attack.

Here are some of the more recent offerees this week:

WR Kaleb O'Bryant from Cypress Creek HS in Houston, TX.

WR Dylan Greynolds from the famous Sidwell Friends HS in Washington, DC. That's where incoming 2016 freshman LinDon Harris is coming to us from.

WR Brandon Lewis from Madison HS in San Diego, CA.

DB Isaiah Richardson from Foster HS in Richmond, TX.

OL Jonathan Rowe from Ardrey Kell HS in Charlotte, NC.

TE Andrew Park from Lake Braddock HS in Burke, VA.

LB Logan Schaefer from Deltona HS in Delton, FL.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

A Great Loss

#5 Jim McMillian, is front row center 

I've been trying to avoid doing too many non-football stories lately, but the passing of Lion basketball great Jim McMillian is just too important a story to ignore.

The AP obituary has a little more info.

Here's a good short interview of McMillian talking about the 1972 Lakers.

McMillian brings up the ball in the old Columbia gym, (now known as the "blue gym")

And here's a good recap of McMillian's best game as a Lion, his 37-point performance on just 22 shots in the Ivy championship playoff victory vs. Princeton in 1968.

Oh, and here's a video of that entire Columbia-Princeton game from 1968 at St. John's Alumni Hall. The broadcaster was the legendary Marty Glickman. (SORRY the link for the game is now working!)

Friday, May 13, 2016

More Offers

Hunter Adams

As we await official news on the incoming class of 2020 and any possible transfers, I am reduced to continuing my look at some of the players we're offering with spots in the class of 2021:

DB Elijah Hicks from La Mirada HS in La Mirada, Ca.

Also from La Mirada, TE Sire Woods.

WR Luke Whittemore from Buchholz HS in Gainesville, FL.That's the same high school where Ryan Thomas '15 came from.

LB Michael Matthews from Camas HS in Camas, FL.

WR Zachari Jackson from Lake Ridge HS in Mansfield, TX.

QB Sean O’Malley from Loyola HS in Los Angeles, CA. Check out his video, because he really has a rifle for an arm. Columbia has successfully recruited many players from Loyola in the past, including Sloane Joseph '02 and his brother Taylor Joseph '10.

CB Aaron Shampklin from Long Beach Poly HS in Long Beach, CA. Long Beach Poly is where Columbia found one of its better athletes of the last 20 years in QB M.A. Olawale ’10.  

 DL Dai Coye Haley from Atchison HS in Atchison, KS. This kid is three times the size of everyone else on the field in his highlight video. I wonder what the parents of those kids think when they see them lining up against him!

 Another big guy is DL Hunter Adams from Cypress-Fairbanks HS in Cypress, TX. BUT the difference here is that he lines up against mostly very large opponents.

And we have another offer to a rising junior for the class of 2022 comes for OL Brad Cecil from Bartram Trail HS in Jacksonville, FL.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Cornell’s Class

Harley Kirsch

Cornell has become the fourth school in the Ivies to unveil its incoming football class. 

The class has 31 members including one transfer, WR Nesean Crofford who was redshirted at Syracuse University last season. 

At first glance, this class seems to be a lot better than what looked like an unimpressive Cornell freshman crop last year.

Here are 9 other members of the class that caught my eye:

LB Mo Bradford from Hot Springs, AK 

RB Harold Coles from Erie, PA 

DB David Jones from Sugar Land, TX 

QB Harley Kirsch from Redmond, WA 

WR Davy Lizana from Phoenix, MD 

PK/P Nicholas Null from Bradenton, FL 

LB Dylan Otolski from Grand Rapids, MI 

LB Cameron Ryan from Milford, CT 

DB Jelani Taylor from Mount Morris, MI 

Oh and if TE Tommy McIntyre caught YOUR eye after being listed at 6-8, you're not alone. But I investigated further and McIntyre was listed as 6-6 in high school, and he has not really played that much football because of injuries. Perhaps he may excel in Ithaca, but he is a project to be sure.

Columbia’s News

I’m pretty confident Columbia will release its official list of incoming freshmen and any possible transfers before Memorial Day Weekend. That means we have 16 days at the most to wait for the news. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

More Offers

Gavin Holmes

Sophomore Offer?

File this under “it’s never too early,” a rising junior/current sophomore has just Tweeted that he’s received an offer from Columbia.

The young man in question is  dual threat QB named Luke Shiflett from Northwest Whitfield HS in Tunnel, GA.  

I was under the impression that the students who are still currently sophomores in high school could not get conditional Ivy offers until September of their junior years, but it’s possible Shiflett is old enough age-wise and perhaps that makes the difference. Another possibility is that some of the rules have been changed.

The rest of the recent offerees are current juniors. They are:

WR/DB Gavin Holmes from Northwest HS in Fort Worth TX. This speedster is the real deal.

CB Jacob Abrams from Carmel HS in Carmel, Indiana.  That’s the same school where Columbia found LB Brian East ’14, who was a good player for us.

DE Deondre Carter from Cedar Hill HS in Cedar Hill, TX. One previous Lion came from that high school: Matt Russell ’97.

OL Clay Padgett from Edmond North HS in Edmond, OK. 

QB Ethan Maenza from North Allegheny HS in Wexford, PA. Former Lions Dan Slivka ’15 and John Hite ’83 came from the same high school.

RB B.J. Watson from Calvert Hall HS in Baltimore, MD. Marty Fischer ’78, came to the Lions from that school.

WR Luke Montgomery from Glendale HS in Springfield, MO. 

Monday, May 9, 2016

Penn's Picks

Nicholas Shablom

Penn became the third team to publish the list of itsincoming freshmen footballers

ASIDE: Isn’t it interesting that the three teams that shared the Ivy title last year are the only ones so far to publish their incoming player lists? Does this mean anything? Is this planned? Does this mean nothing? Probably.

Anyway, a quick look at the Penn list should ring a lot of bells for Columbia fans because the Quakers grabbed a lot of guys the Lions also offered for 2016. Of course, this happens to all the Ivy teams who are essentially all competing for the same small number of eligible and interested candidates. I add the word “interested” because the actual number of academically eligible football recruits is larger than we are always led to believe. The higher hurdle to clear is getting the interest of players who simply have not and likely will not every consider coming to play Ivy football. Then there are the people who won’t even consider going to a non-athletic scholarship school no matter how many times you tell them that significant financial aid is available. And then there are the people who are still so dead-set on playing only at a big FBS program and won’t give up on that dream.

Getting back to Penn. Some of the players on the Quaker list who caught my eye long before they committed to Ray Priore and Penn are:

6-5 210 pound QB Michael Collins, (looks like the real deal)

6-2 274 pound D-lineman Prince Emili (the rare Ivy commodity: a big DL)

6-3 270 pound D-lineman Alan “Ace’ Escobedo (ditto)

6-7 240 pound TE Nicholas Shablom (but will he play football and not lacrosse?)

Unlike the Harvard class, this group on paper looks pretty stellar. Why those websites that have been rating in the incoming FBS classes haven’t ranked this crop rather highly is beyond me. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

More Offers

Desmond Banks

Another day, another bevvy of Columbia football offers.

Let's get right to the latest names:

WR Mason Gryniuk from Woodgrove HS in Purcellville, VA.

OL Mark Mulvaney from Holliston HS in Holliston, MA.

TE Declan Burt from St. John's Prep HS in Danvers, MA.

(The Columbia offers to Burt and Mulvaney were written up by ESPN Boston)

DB Desmond Banks from Boys Latin HS in Baltimore, MD.

A 6"6 TE Tanner Taula from Blue Springs HS in Blue Springs, MO.

Dartmouth List

The Big Green has announced its incoming class of 35 football players, walk-ons included.

One name that jumps out at me is Jordan McGriff, a huge 325-pound DT who committed to Fordham last year, but that commitment didn't take. When he committed to Fordham, he was expected to be an OL in college, but Dartmouth is listing him solely on the defensive side.

RB Mason Koch made some headlines a year and a half ago when he got a perfect score on the ACT.

Oh, and don't worry. Dartmouth's incoming WR Drew Estrada is not NOT 5"1, but 5"11. That's a typo.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Offers Ahoy!

It looks like the Columbia coaches were busy yesterday sending out at least nine offers by my count.

Here are the offeree names I found:

RB Brandin Bradford from O'Connor HS in Helotes, TX. 

DB Chris Bergin from Detroit Country Day School, same HS as current Lion rising senior Gianmarco Rea.

OL Russell Stripling from Chino Hills HS in Chino Hills, CA.

MLB Jordan Carey from Hazlewood Central HS in Florissant, MO.

WR Denzel Fondungallah from Cretin-Derham Hall in St. Paul, MN, the same school where Columbia got WR deep threat Brandon Bowser  '06.

WR Trevor Russell from Casa Grande HS in Casa Grande, AZ, where Columbia found one of its all-time great TE's, Matt Less '90. 

WR Owen Piche from Nequa Valley HS in Napervill, IL.

OL Patrick Arnold  from Gretna HS in Gretna, NE 

WR Thomas Hennigan from Northwest Guilford HS in Greensboro, NC. 

Lots of Questions Persist 

Harvard is still the only Ivy team to officially announce its incoming football class of 2020. So the head scratching about some of its new freshmen still has a lot of people scratching their heads. Some people believe the low number of 26 announced athletes is the result of several offerees not coming through with the minimum grades to cash in on their provisional offers. 

Oh, and the excellent DT I really liked, Carter Hartmann? He won't even report to Cambridge for another two years as he is about to leave on a two-year LDS mission. 

Okay, reality check time. I think we all know Harvard will still be a strong program no matter what anyone thinks of this class. But count me among the people a little baffled by what he read out of Crimsonland yesterday. 

Making His Own Case

A DC-area Lion fan alerted me to the fact that one of the new players on the Harvard list wasn't on the Crimson radar, or anyone's radar about a year ago.

But LB Jordan Hill started Tweeting the Harvard coaches and persisted until they checked him out. 

Screen Gems

One more thing about Harvard: The Crimson athletics website is now featuring a large and accessible video archive filled with sports game film. It includes:

-41 minutes of the very first game at the new Wien Stadium in 1984. Note the lack of visitor stands, (they were added in 1986).

-Film from a 3-3 Columbia-Harvard tie football game at Harvard in 1963.

-A 34-7 Lion loss to the Crimson at Baker Field in 1966, (which features probably the best color footage you’ll see of the old stadium).

-Back to black and white with film of the 1971 21-19 thriller Crimson win at Harvard.

-The complete 1994 Columbia-Harvard game at Wien Stadium featuring lots of running by Marcellus Wiley '97.  (Columbia lost in a heartbreaker 39-32 in what was Harvard Head Coach Tim Murphy’s first game with the Crimson).

-Levien Gym looking almost exactly as it does today in a 1979 basketball game that Columbia won 90-74.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Harvard is First

Tim Murphy

Harvard has just announced its official incoming football class of 2020.

Considering the fact that the Crimson have been the best overall and certainly the most consistently strong football program in the Ivies for 20 years now, I'd like to be able to find some pattern in its recruiting classes that spelled success or at least hinted at some kind of winning strategy.

Sadly, the only thing that jumps out at you are the number of 1st team all state players, and there's no secret to trying to grab those kinds of players.

Longtime readers of this blog know I also judge recruiting classes by how many big and talented defensive tackles and talented running backs they can grab. This Harvard class has just one DT in Carter Hartmann, and he seems like a winner. But I don't see even one pure RB on this list. Surely, someone from this class, probably one of the players listed simply as "athletes," will step up at RB but if any other school but Harvard turned in a recruiting class without a clearly labeled RB, the fans would be calling for blood.

For the last couple of years, Harvard has had a few walk-ons not listed in these official announcements. I suspect that's happening again, which says a lot about the allure of the Harvard name because so many of even the top recruited athletes never see regular varsity playing time.

If any of you see something I'm missing about this class, feel free to tell me. But it just seems like Head Coach Tim Murphy and his staff are happy to receive a bunch of all state players and forego pursuing any other strategy or specific player profile.