Tuesday, July 24, 2007

2007 Preseason All-Ivy Picks

Usually, choosing a preseason all-star team at the collegiate level is a lot harder than making your picks for an individual conference's final standings. With the huge turnover in the Ivy League, there are rarely more than four or five returning players from the previous season's All-Ivy offensive and defensive teams.

This season, thanks to a few fifth-year seniors, the guesswork is a little easier, while still not exactly easy. But yesterday's release of a preseason All-Ivy team by the hard-working guys at Draftdaddy.com has inspired me to come out with my own list today.



Princeton's Brendan Circle is the most clutch receiver in the league (CREDIT: Daily Princetonian)

WR-Brendan Circle, Princeton

Circle may not gain as many yards this year as he did in 2006, because the scrambling Bill Foran is taking over at QB for the Tigers. But I still expect him to make big plays like he did so many times last year. Circle has a knack for getting open at key moments, even if he's quiet at other times in the game. When you consider how shaky Princeton's running game was at times last year, Circle's numbers and overall play are even more impressive.

WR-Corey Mazza, Harvard

Coming back for a 5th year after missing just about all of 2005 with an injury. His size, 6"4 and 210 lbs., makes him a nightmare to cover.

Runners Up

Braden Lepisto of Penn, Paul Raymond of Brown, and Austin Knowlin of Columbia will be in the hunt for the more important postseason All-Ivy honors as well. All three are the key targets for the their teams' passing games. Lepisto is going to get a lot of catches because opposing defenses won't be able to cheat against the Quaker run. Knowlin is a gamebreaker and is coming off a Rookie of the Year season. Raymond had a breakout year in 2006, but will have to deal with a new QB at Brown.

TE-(Your Name Here)

With the graduations of Matt Farbotko at Harvard and some other prominent names, the premier ranks of tight ends in the Ivies have thinned drastically. I'm not surprised that the folks at Draft Daddy decided to leave tight end off their list entirely.

But there are some good contenders for the top spot this season. First, you have last year's second team All-Ivy tight end in Yale's Langston Johnson. Johnson is noted mostly for his blocking abilities as he didn't catch too many passes this season. I also liked what I saw of Brown's Colin Cloherty in 2006, and he could be the beneficiary of the new QB at Brown leaning on the tight end as a primary receiver as new QB's often do. Josh Koontz had some good games for Penn last season and he could definitely become a top player this year. And of course, I love Columbia's Troy Evangelist's chances to dominate at the tight end position in 2007. He has the best size of any starting tight end in the league and his coaches are showing tremendous confidence in him.

OL-Jeff Monaco, Yale

Monaco was the only junior offensive lineman named to either the first or second or All-Ivy team last year. He's a big reason for Mike McCleod's success at Yale.

OL-Nick Wachtler, Yale

Great height for a center. Has all the tools.

OL-David Paine, Harvard

Helped the now-graduated Clifton Dawson go last year and in 2005. Has his work cut out for him this year with a new cast in the backfield.

OL-Jimmy Tull, Brown

Brown had a viable running game despite losing Nick Hartigan to graduation last year. Tull was a big reason why.

OL-Ralph DeBernardo, Columbia

Big reason why Columbia halved its sacks allowed stats from 2005 to 2006. Getting bigger and stronger in the offseason. Ralph was very effective last season as a sophomore and I expect him to improve. My interview with him from April is here.

Runners Up???

I am in total agreement with the Draft Daddy guys on the offensive line picks. It's almost impossible to assess offensive line play from the press box. The coaches and the opposing defensive players are really the only ones who truly know. So, you have to go with the returning players the coaches thought were the best last season.

Craig Hormann seems to be recovering well (CREDIT: Columbia Athletics Dept.)

QB-Craig Hormann, Columbia

My sources tell me Craig is working out regularly in the weight room and should be ready for training camp. I've gone back and forth on Craig over the years, but no one should ever question his commitment. And no one should question his potential after what he did in the final three games of last season.

But the truth is, the Ivy League is strangely thin at the QB position for the second straight year. Hormann is almost my choice by default because of his experience and his potential.

Runners Up

I'm impressed by Princeton's Bill Foran and he performed well in limited duty last season. Penn's Robert Irvin has a lot of experience and should get better, but that's what everyone said about Brown's Joe DiGiacomo before his senior year last season, and he made some of the worst mistakes of his career. Irvin must overcome his knack for throwing interceptions at the worst possible times. If he does, he could easily be the top QB in the league. Harvard's Liam O'Hagan is a wildcard, but I just don't think he's going to put up enough numbers to overcome the loss of Dawson at tailback. I expect Yale's Matt Polhemus to have a decent season, but his wide receiving crew is thin.

RB-Mike McLeod, Yale

He'll make a serious run at 1,500 yards or more this season. McCleod's offensive line will be weaker than it was in 2006, but McCleod will only get better. It's almost impossible to shut him down for four quarters.

RB-Joe Sandberg, Penn

For some reason, this enormously talented and hard-working player is underrated in the league. He's a great runner and receiver, and I expect him to get even more yards and receptions this year. Sandberg is back on the field this season for a 5th year.

Runners Up

Cornell's Luke Siwula is a talented player, but last year's dropoff compared to 2005 was eye-opening. Princeton's R.C. Lagomarsino will improve this year as a junior.

K-Jon Rocholl, Columbia

I'll admit that personal bias may have led me to choose Rocholl over Brown's Steve Morgan, but it's not all emotion. Morgan is automatic from inside the 30, but he was just three for seven from the 30 and beyond last year, while Rocholl was seven of 12 from the 30 and further. Morgan had better consistency, but he missed a 45-yarder that would have almost iced the Brown game against Columbia last season, and a few minutes later Rocholl hit the game-winner. If Rocholl were just a little more consistent over the course of the season, no one would doubt this choice.


DL-Matt Curtis, Harvard

No one had a better defensive line than Harvard last year, and only one starter, Mike Berg, has graduated. Curtis made a major impact as a sophomore in 2006, and he will get better.

DL-Brad Bagdis, Harvard

Bagdis is coming off a season where he had six sacks and 16 tackles for a loss.

DL-Naheem Harris, Penn

Harris anchored the Ivy League's second best defensive line last season and he has been a top player since he first stepped on the field as a freshman.

DL-Brandt Hollander, Yale

Yale will make a run at Harvard for the title of best defensive line in the Ivies this year, and Hollander is the best the reason why. He's 6"3 and 280 lbs., but plays faster than that.

Runners Up

I also like Kyle Hawari and Stephen Schmalhofer at Yale, Pete Buchignani from Princeton, and Brown's Kai Brown. Columbia's Phil Mitchell is a force against the run.

LB-Bobby Abare, Yale

Abare is the kind of player who can change games on his own. He will continue to do that this season.

LB-Joe Anastasio, Penn

Makes tons of tackles in big games. The best player on a great defense.

LB-Drew Quinn, Columbia

Makes great plays against the run and the pass. Named captain as a junior this year despite playing on a team with a lot of up and coming stars on defense.

LB-Justin Cottrell, Dartmouth

Big leader of an underrated Big Green defense. Led the team in tackles last year.

Runners Up

The Ivy League is more linebacker-rich than I can ever remember. In many other years, guys like Tim Boardman of Princeton, Eric Schultz of Harvard, Ryan Blessing of Cornell, and Brown's Eric Brewer would be preseason favorites. I also really liked the way Columbia's Justin Masorti played last season as a freshman. The list goes on and on, but a big wildcard is Yale's Lee Driftmier who is coming back after missing 2006 with an injury.

DB-Andrew Berry, Harvard

Tremendous potential to make the NFL one day as he enters his junior season in Cambridge.

DB-Andy Shalbrack, Columbia

No freshman made a bigger impact on his team last season. Should have been the Ivy Rookie of the Year. Moves to a more traditional defensive back slot after starting last season as the "spur" linebacker. Plays like a veteran.

DB-Tim Bax, Cornell

Great size for a DB at 6"2 and 180 pounds. Will have to shoulder a big load for the Big Red defense as a junior.

DB-Ian Wilson, Dartmouth

Reminds me of recent Columbia grad Tad Crawford with the huge number of tackles he racks up from the defensive backfield.

Runners Up

Penn's Tyson Maugle was tough to leave off the top of this list, but I want to see him play more. His Quaker teammate Greg Ambrogi is another star. Yale's Steve Santoro has a shot to be one of the top players in the league by the time he's a senior in 2008.

P-John Rocholl, Columbia

John is a great punter and is more consistent as a punter than he is a place kicker. Steve Morgan is also very solid.


At Wed Jul 25, 04:55:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am disappointed that you have not named our own Phil Mitchell, a potential NFL prospect, as a likley all Ivy DE. Also, why no kudos for our own Justin Masorti? And finally, you seem to be ignoring the blocking backs and treating the OLs as interchangeable at all 5 interiro line positions. Other than that, great work on your part!

At Wed Jul 25, 06:20:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In all fairness to Jake, he did list Phil Mitchell as one of his four runners-up on the defensive line. As to Justin Masorti, I think you're right that he deserves to be named as a potential All-ivy linebacker. However, no one will take Jake's picks seriously, if he only selects Columbia players. Finally, I believe you're also right about the tendency to lump all five offensive interior line positions together. Again, however, you can hardly blame Jake for doing that since he knows probably more about the Columbia Football Team than anyone in the world other than the coaches and the players themselves. If he doesn't have exact information on the interior linemen, it's not his fault, and if the sports information department is not yet giving that info to Jake, perhaps the coaches, players and their families can submit that information to him for publication in Roar Lions Roar. The offensive linemen do not get much publicity at any college, even though you can't win without them.

At Wed Jul 25, 07:42:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger Jake said...

I absolutely forgot to put Masorti in my list of linebackers to watch even though I meant to from the beginning. He is up there now.

As for interior linemen, I hope that I made it clear in my discussion in that section that I am almost at a loss to evaluate their play from afar. I admit I need to work on it for sure.

At Wed Jul 25, 09:01:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger Stephen said...

Safety: Nick Solakian, Yale

2005 All-Ivy, shoulder injury shelved him last year

Ivy Offenses: Be afraid, be very afraid

He's an Abare-type player- pure instincts, but might be the best overall athlete in the league- tall, fast, jumps, covers

The entire Yale d-line could be All-Ivy: Porter will be a 3 year starter who's NEVER gotten any credit.

At Wed Jul 25, 09:02:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jake, most major programs and the NFL rate the LT (if there is a right handed QB) as the secomd most valuable player on the offensive side. I imagine that's because he protects the blind side of a drop back QB. I'm not sure that we can apply the same criteria to our league, which has few classic drop back QBs.

At Wed Jul 25, 01:56:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...


You mentioned that Shalbrack will be moved to a more traditional DB position. However, he is listed on the roster as an SS (strong safety), which used to be called the OLBs, or spurs. So according to the roster he will be returning at the same position of spur, now called SS.

At Wed Jul 25, 06:59:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shalbrack is a great player, but he might be better suited as a spur or a strong safety. The isue is whether he is ideally suited to be a cover corner. The coaches know the answer to that question, but I do not.

At Wed Jul 25, 08:11:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder if anyone knows if Andy Shalbrack or Gene Edwards will be used on kickoff or punt returns this year. They both looked like instant offense personified on their interceptions last year.

At Wed Jul 25, 08:37:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A couple things: first off, responding to the previous poster, I can say that I doubt you will see Shalbrack or Edwards returning kicks, as neither of them has ever been even a back up or done it in practice according to my inside source. Second, I was surprised, Jake, that there was no mention of Jamal Russell for the TE spot, as I think he has an equal chance for a breakout year with Evangelist. One more thing, I like your pick of Rocholl for the punting and kicking spots, but has any player ever been 1st team all ivy in two positions?

At Wed Jul 25, 08:43:00 PM GMT+7, Blogger Jake said...

I know it must seem like I'm "hating on" Russell, but I'm just not sure he's going to make as much a difference as Evangelist. I do think he will have a good year.

We might have a freshman kick returner this year if one of the new kids really shows poise in training camp. It would be great if we could add that to our arsenal.

I will check now if anyone's won both all-Ivy honors for punter and kicker in the same season.

At Thu Jul 26, 01:39:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In response to the question has anyone been all-league at two positions--I'm not sure they had all-league selections pre-Ivy League or if in that era they even honored kickers separately, but if they had, Paul Governali would at least have been a likely suspect. Consensus all-American at halfback/quarterback, and averaged 39.97 yards per punt for his college career. Also all-Eastern League in baseball. According to Columbia's web site, "The AP named him the East's Best All-Around College Athlete."



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