Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Bang the Drum Loudly

Craig Hormann, back in 2005

A number of posters have made the point already, but it should be restated here: SHOW UP AT WIEN STADIUM THIS SATURDAY!!!

It's been a disappointing season, no question about that. But one thing I haven't really noticed in this team is a lack of effort. Yes, they've been out-played. Yes, they've made some mental errors. But I've looked at the eyes of these players in fourth quarters week after week, and I see the fire every time.

Of course, Saturday will be all about the 12 seniors playing their final games at Columbia, and probably forever. This is a group of players that if you count some of their initial contacts with the Columbia program, became somewhat familiar with three separate coaching staffs under Ray Tellier, Bob Shoop, and finally Norries Wilson.

On the field they've experienced the lows of 2004, 2005, and now the 2007 season. But they also shared in the highs of the 2006 campaign that ended so well.

Here are some of my personal memories of some of the individual players:

Craig Hormann

I'll never forgert how Craig showed the strength of his arm in his very first game action against Cornell during his freshman year. He led the Lions on a long TD drive his very first time on the field in that game. Of course, Columbia ending up losing that game in a classic choke, but one positive was the fact that we new we had a great young passer ready to play for the next three years.

Craig was then thrown into a tough situation as the "co-starter" with senior Joe Winters during the 2005 season. Neither QB really thrived in that crazy arrangement, but Hormann did show a great ability to hook up with deep threat wide receiver Brandon Bowser from time to time.

In his junior year, Hormann led the Lions to their best record in a decade. He also showed an uncanny ability to avoid throwing the interception. His performance at key points in the wins over Cornell and Brown were very impressive and led to his being named 2nd team All-Ivy.

This season, Craig has struggled. He's thrown twice as many interceptions, and had less succes on third downs. But the courage and determination he showed to come back into decent playing form after tearing his ACL in the off season has been inspiring. Who knows what he could have done with a better running attack and a more veteran offensive line?

JoJo Smith

My best memory of JoJo Smith came in the Fordham game last year, when he slapped the ball away from a Fordham receiver to force a fumble just before he would have gone in for a touchdown. The effort he puts out on the field every day is more than impressive.

Eugene Edwards

Who could forget the TWO field goals Edwards blocked in the Fordham game last year. Injuries have marred too much of his senior season, but he seems healthy again now. Eugene is the epitome of the humble, hard-working ball player.

Bayo Aregbe

Bayo actually first hit the field way back in 2003. Injuries have also played too much of a role in his career, which is too bad because just looking at him, you can tell he could be a dominant force. He really personifies perserverance.

Tim Paulin

My best memory of Tim was his great run for a TD on a reverse against Georgetown last season. It's fun just to see this speedster go up and down the field.

Mike Partain

Mike was thrown into the mix as a sophomore in 2005 and was immediately seen as being a real talent on the offensive line. He and Craig Hormann have worked well as a team together.

Jamal Russell

Jamal's breakaway for a TD against Cornell last year was one of the most exciting moments in Columbia football over the past three years. Jamal was another player who was dealt an unfair hand when it comes to injuries.

Brandon Buckley

Brandon's contributions this year were a pleasant surprise from a player who was relatively quiet his first three seasons. His injury in the Yale game will probably keep him out of the lineup Saturday, but we are hopeful.

Josh Webster

Josh has been an extremely reliable long snapper. He came on the scene after Columbia suffered a great many seasons with problems in that area. Josh has been a godsend.

Stefan Savic, Austin Stevenson, and Thomas Weldon haven't had much playing time, but I know we all appreciate their efforts.


At Wed Nov 14, 05:09:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

These twelve guys stuck it out when many of their teammates quit. They have worked hard and contributed year in and year out with three different coaching staffs. I thank them, and although I don't them personally, they must be young men of very high character. They will be successful in whatever they choose to do because they know what COMMITMENT means.

For the young guys on the team, take note.

For the fans, show you're commited by coming to the game on Saturday and cheering them on.

At Wed Nov 14, 05:09:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you Jake for a piece that needed written! These are the players, along with the Juniors, that are the "heart and soul" of this team. We owe a debt of gratitude for what they have gone through both on and off the field.
They are survivors and, to a large degree, were responsible for last years 5-5 record.This year's freshmen and sophomores have contributed, but we will see where they are in years to come. The upperclassmen have put up a valiant fight with very little encouragement from the fans or the media, but they are still there every Saturday! It is refreshing to read an article honoring the graduating seniors.

At Wed Nov 14, 06:01:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There has been a lot of encouragement from some of us; just not enough. And my hats go off to those guys who didn't see much PT but stuck it out. They are the real heroes; players who the coaches didn't use much but who did not just pack it in and quit, either before their senior year or during the season. To those seniors who saw little playing time but stayed with the program, you have my undying respect and admiration.

At Wed Nov 14, 06:37:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice tribute and well-earned by the seniors. I have enjoyed following their football careers and will look forward to hearing about them again in their professional careers.

At Wed Nov 14, 07:50:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger dabull said...

Thanks Jake for thinking of these guys and honoring them. For all the work and effort these guys have put in to be a part of a team for their years at Columbia I wish more of the student body would appreciate that and come out and clap for these guys on Saturday, even if they aren't football fans. These guys deserve that kind of admiration.

At Wed Nov 14, 09:20:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.
Ralph Waldo Emerson(1803-1882)

Our hats are off to these guys, who had the strength of character to see a commitment through to its end, regardless of the outcome. To have done so, with enthusiasm, is a heck of a legacy for these young men nearing their offical entrance into the adult world. The underclassmen can, and will, take that and run with it! Jake - thanks for helping all of us take a moment to give enthusiastic recognition to the Class of 2008 and their accomplishments. NOW......
GOooooooo LIONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

At Wed Nov 14, 09:24:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And thank you Jake for your nuanced insights and unflagging loyalty. the mindset which we are battling is typified by that small group of disaffected ultra left wing faculty who are now trying to do a Larry Summers on Lee Bollinger. Lee hasn't been perfect, but he's the best friend of athletics in the Presidnet's office we've ever had, and he deserves our support despite his screw-up in allowing that pipsqueak Nazi from Iran to speak on campus. Lee, if you read Jake, stand tall, and SHOW UP ON SATURDAY!

At Wed Nov 14, 10:01:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didn't realize there were only 12 seniors on this team. Oh well, to my way of thinking they all played with great hearts, however many (or few) playing minutes each had. They exemplified Shelley's exhortation to "Rise like lions after slumber in unvanquishable number." And the seeds of the "better" they deserve were definitely planted this year.

Some congratulations should also be in order for the men's basketball team, by the way, which played evenly for more than 30 minutes against a much larger and stronger Ohio State team. It's going to be worth attending basketball games this season for more reasons than to appraise the seeming physical attributes abd strength of football players during the off-season (which a few posters did yesterday for some weird reason).

At Thu Nov 15, 02:17:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Number of Seniors (per team, per their rosters):

Dartmouth 27
Yale 26
Penn 24
Princeton 23
Harvard 19
Brown 18
Cornell 15
Columbia 12

Interesting. Some squads also have over 115 players on their rosters.

At Thu Nov 15, 02:26:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We have had ZERO defections during the season. That speaks volumes for the dedication of our team and for the respect they have for the staff and each other. In a few years we will be righ tup there on senior retention. PS, who is this sophomore all purpose back from Brown who did so well last weekend?


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