Friday, March 30, 2007

The Great White North


It's been two good days in a row for the Columbia Spectator, which has a nice piece on a few of the graduating football seniors trying to make a go of it in the European pro football leagues. The article also mentions the fact that Ontario native Tad Crawford is a likely first-round draft pick for the Canadian Football League.

This is a good choice for these guys, who will not only learn a lot by living abroad, but they'll also get a chance to delay the inevitable "life behind a desk" most of us have been sentenced to since graduation.

But I find Crawford's future to be the most compelling. Hopefully, he will emerge as a legitimate CFL star and that could really help Columbia's recruiting fortunes in Canada. Recent big Ivy stars like Harvard's Clifton Dawson came from up north, so the talent pool is there.

Canada's "grade 13" system for high schools was relaxed about 10 years ago, allowing young athletes to explore the U.S. postgrad prep scene and raise their stock as collegiate prospects. Seeing someone like Crawford playing well in the CFL could encourage more kids to give the Ivies, (and hopefully Columbia), a try.

And some of Columbia's best stars have come from the oddest of places. Guys like Michael Quarshie who grew up in Finland, for example. In the fiercely competitive world of Ivy League recruiting, where the pool of talented players with academic chops is shallow indeed, you have to exploit any advantage when and where you can.

In the 1990's, then Head Coach Ray Tellier was the first Ivy coach to really focus on California before the rest of the league caught on. That short-lived edge produced stars like Marcellus Wiley. I wrote a little more about this in my "Open Letter to Coach Norries Wilson" post before the beginning of last season.

While most of metropolitan Canada is well-known to most Ivy recruiters, I wonder if the same is true of the so-called "prarie provinces" where you often have to drive for hours before you see more than one telephone pole. Maybe Columbia's next big star will come from one of these remote areas, where a kid watching a CFL game on TV hears the name "Columbia" for the first time.


At Fri Mar 30, 10:56:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Spec article also has some revealing comments about the players' take on D Coordinator Lou Ferrari. Speaking of diamonds, he really seems to be one.

At Fri Mar 30, 08:10:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jake, you have really outdone yourself this week. As for recruiting, the current players are our greatest asset. Because they are positive about the coach, that should give us an edge. Contrast that with all of the negative stories we hear about players being down on some of the other coaching staffs in the league.

At Fri Mar 30, 09:20:00 PM GMT+7, Blogger Jake said...

Yes, I've been a big fan of Ferrari since they announced he was coming back to Columbia. I'm not sure if enough people truly grasp the enormity of his accomplishment last season as he took a defense that gave up 337 points in 2005 and turned it into a unit that only allowed 163 last season. That kind of reduction just doesn't happen at any level of organized football. And yet, Lou did it. I MUST get him for an interview sometime soon.

As for happy players influencing the current recruits... I totally agree. You can sense how happy the players are when you come to visit. It's usually pretty evident.

At Mon Apr 02, 10:29:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jake, for your information, the quarterback, Shane Kelly, is not listed on the 2007 Temple University Football Roster that was just published on the Temple University Athletics Website. Do we know for certain that Kelly will be transferring to Columbia and will be ready to play this fall? Does he have two or three years of eligibility at Columbia? Very smart move for Kelly if he is coming to Columbia as he not only will get an Ivy League education, but will have a chance to make an immediate impact on the football field. Are you planning to interview him?

At Tue Apr 03, 12:26:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger Jake said...

Kelly should be eligible to play right away, but obviously we won't see him in spring practice and that could hurt his chances of playing until midseason... but you never know. I'm actually hoping Hormann recovers enough to start and an improved running game will keep him pain-free for the entire season. What Craig has in his head is very valuable now with our complex offense.


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