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.
JAKE NOVAK'S PRESEASON ALL-IVY TEAM
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.