Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Core Four

Jared Katz

When the day finally comes where Al Bagnoli brings the Columbia football program to the top of the Ivies, there will be a lot of talk and reminiscing about his first few teams and how much they struggled. Only the die hard fans will remember the names of the players who were the best and most effective competitors during this lean, but improving era.

A group I think about a lot right now are the 18 or so seniors who came to Columbia as part of Pete Mangurian's first recruiting class. To say they went through some hard times is an understatement. Their first two years were marked by an 0-20 record and brutal controversies about Mangurian's tenure throughout. Then when Bagnoli was brought in, they had to deal with the chance that they may lose any hard-earned seniority on the depth charts.

But look at the roster and you'll see that a clear majority of those 18 players are either starting or playing key roles on the team today. They're on offense, defense, and special teams. But there's no denying that their presence is most felt on Columbia's excellent defense. And I want to put a spotlight on four of those seniors on defense that I call "The Core Four."

Two of them are DB's: Jared Katz and Brock Kenyon. The other two are LB's: Gianmarco Rea and Keith Brady. 

Anyone watching Columbia football this year knows how it seems like one of these guys is in on the stop on every single play. Rea is leading the Ivies in tackles. Katz is getting looks from NFL scouts. Kenyon and Brady are simply incredible sometimes.

Brock Kenyon in 2014

Speaking of incredible, check out this piece from last week in the Columbia Spectator about the day in the challenging life of Keith Brady. Considering how little it took for me to lose focus as a student when I was at Columbia, I don't see how the Engineering students on the football team or any team do it.

Just look at the Columbia stats so far this year. The three leading tacklers are Rea, Kenyon, and Brady in that order. Katz's numbers are impressive considering most teams don't bother to throw in his direction anyway. But he's still found a way to get 15 tackles including 1.5 tackles for a loss.

Gianmarco Rea

In a year marked by the encouraging play of so many freshmen, and the emergence of a quite of few juniors by the way, you might think it would be easy to overlook the contributions of these four-year Lion seniors. But it isn't easy because the Core Four have been playing so well. And looking at the remaining four games on the schedule, there are at least three teams on the docket that have big vulnerabilities to the weapons the Core Four bring to the table.

Their best days may be yet to come.


oldlion said...

Great analysis Jake. And a well deserved tribute to guys who stuck with it.

PKNIGHT said...

Throw in the Conway transfers and Bob's your uncle as the Brits say! Especially the LB/DB Conway!

WOF said...

So great that Bags plays the kids who can play, even seniors who weren't "his".