Sunday, November 30, 2008

The 2008 Jakeys

Eat your heart out, Heisman!

The best movies get Oscars, the best TV shows get Emmys, and the best Columbia football players get Jakeys.

Thus begins a new tradition.

I know the annual team dinner is a week from today where the official school awardees will be named. But I'd like to throw in some of my own awards if I could.

I'll start my categories and my own nominees. Please feel free to nominate whomever you like in any category in the comments section and I'll consider a more complete list during the week.

Here we go:


Owen Fraser, DT

Fraser burst onto the scene right in week one and seemed to be the one biggest reason why the Lions shut down the run so much more effectively this year... especially up the middle. His imposing size and surprising speed were a joy to watch.

Kalasi Huggins, CB

Got the opening day start and proved no one could really get separation from him on passing routes. Sometimes he covered receivers TOO close, not even realizing the pass was on its way. Was named Ivy League Rookie of the Week after the week two loss at Towson.

A.J. Maddox, CB/Special Teams

The speedy corner got plenty of playing time, filling in when Huggins was injured in the middle part of the season and alternating with him at other points. On special teams, he burned down the field time after time, especially on punt coverages. May be the fastest man on the team.


Alex Gross, LB

The 2007 Ivy League Rookie of the Year got even better in year 2, leading the Ivies in tackles and making his presence felt all over the field. Gross was a big reason most teams were shut down when trying to take things to the outside against the Lions.

Adam Mehrer, S

Led the team in interceptions and made sure teams throwing away from Andy Shalback couldn't relax.

Ian Quirk, OG

The sophomore broke into the starting lineup and helped bolster Columbia's much-improved offensive line. The Lions truly missed him when he was too banged up to play the final two games.

Zack Kourouma, RB

Showed his speed as a runner and a receiver in a number of games, especially at Towson and Harvard. Finished the year with two TD's and a hefty 7.6 yards per carry on an admittedly paltry 11 carries. Seems like he has a great shot at being a starting tailback in 2009.

Calvin Otis, CB

Had an outstanding year as the starting corner. His pickoff in the second half against Cornell set up the Lions' go-ahead score.

Mike Stephens, WR

Broke into the starting lineup and made an immediate impact. Finished first on the team in receiving yards and made a nice catch for a TD versus Towson. Did a decent job returning punts before being replaced by Austin Knowlin, including breaking off a 53-yarder against Lafayette. His crushing fumble against Princeton was a heart-breaker, but he bounced back nicely with courage. Hes becoming a fan favorite.


Lou Miller, DE

This junior had an explosive season, going from just 26 tackles as a sophomore to 68 in 2008. His 19.5 tackles for a loss led the Ivies, and he was also the league leader with eight sacks. In 2007, he had only four TFL's and one sack.

Austin Knowlin, WR/Special Teams

Still the most explosive player on the team despite seeing his receiving stats crash hard from last year. Scored four receiving TD's and two more on a pair of 76-yard punt returns on back-to-back weeks. Also made some great moves as a rusher on afew reverses and direct snaps. Was a key part of both Columbia wins, with a receiving TD versus Dartmouth and a back-breaking punt return for a score against Cornell.

M.A. Olawale, QB

Coaches finally set him loose at the end of the Dartmouth game and he won the game with a brilliant drive capped off by a 10-yard TD run. Ran all over Cornell in the week 9 win at Wien Stadium as well. In the season finale, he became the first Lion rusher to gain 100 yards or more since Jordan Davis did it in week 3 of 2007. His 70-yard run in that Brown game was the longest rush from scrimmage for any Ivy player in 2008. We still don't know the extent of his injury from that game, but he certainly has a lot of time to recover.

Evan Sanford, C

Starting at center for the first time, Sanford did a great job controlling the middle and opening up holes. With the graduations of senior Ralph DeBernado and Mike Brune from the O-line, Sanford will probably be the leader of that crucial unit next year.

Taylor Joseph, WR/LS

Often-overlooked player who just keeps doing whatever his teams asks of him. Had another solid year as a receiver with 30 catches for 365 yards, Also was forced into emergency duty as the long snapper due to another player's injury and did improve as the season went along.

Andy Shalbrack, S

The elder statesman of a young secondary thrived in his leadership role in 2008. Shut down a number of opposing passing attacks in his area and made two key interceptions in Columbia's two wins.


Drew Quinn, LB

After an injury-plagued 2007 season, Quinn burst back onto the scene and went from 62 tackles, (with just 1.5 TFL's), to 88 stops with 5 TFL's. He also had a interception return for a TD and two forced fumbles.

Mike Brune, OL

Generally seen by opposing teams as the best Lion offensive lineman on a team that improved by leaps and bounds in total rushing yards gained, (627 on 2007 to 1,397 in 2008), and went from 28 sacks allowed in 2007 to just 16 allowed in 2008.

Ralph DeBernardo, OL

Also battled injuries and gained back enough weight to start all 10 games on the line. Moved to guard in the final two games to accommodate an injury to Quirk and the resulting reshuffle.

Jon Rocholl

Had a really solid year as a field goal kicker, nailing 9 of 11 attempts, including a 47-yarder that was the longest successful FG in the Ivies in 2008. Still looked good as a punter as well. He also had his best season on kickoffs. He will be sorely missed next season.


M.A. Olawale

Austin Knowlin

Evan Sanford


Lou Miller

Alex Gross

Owen Fraser

Drew Quinn


Ray Rangel

Started getting into a groove as a runner and as a receiver. Scored key TD's in both Columbia wins. Had a huge first half against Penn, keeping Columbia in the game.

Lou Miller

Mike Stephens

Zack Kourouma

Adam Mehrer


Lou Miller

Alex Gross

M.A. Olawale

Austin Knowlin


At Tue Dec 02, 12:08:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agree with your choices. As far as the Offensive Player of the Year selection, it has to be an offensive lineman this year, and in my opinion, the most deserving is the center, Evan Sanford. If not Sanford, then Brune or DeBernardo, but you already have them as Seniors of the Year. Hopefully, the Lions will have a great offensive line next season with Sanford as the leader

At Tue Dec 02, 05:36:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I nominate Bruce Fleming for most improved player. Supposedly he made big gains in the weight room leading up to this season, cracked the 2 deep this year and when he got his opportunity, he made the most of it; collecting several tackles on limited snaps. He also has a great physique and looks great in his uniform, reminding me of his Father, Bruce Fleming Sr. who was a defensive captain for the Miami Hurricanes and a member of the 1983 national championship team.

At Tue Dec 02, 05:57:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jake, how about player most likely to emerge from obscurity to stardom in '09? Jerry Bell? Bruce Fleming? the other big first year DL (Groth?) who also saw a lot of PT?

At Tue Dec 02, 06:16:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In response to 2:57PM, the person who is (accourding to all Ivy League Coaches) most likely to emerge from obscurity to stardom is Andy Shalbrack. He apparently isn't on anyone's radar.

I am still PO'd about the lack of repect shown to him by the people nominating All Ivy.

The Neckman.

At Tue Dec 02, 06:24:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...


You left out a category, Iron Man, or call it Unsung Hero, and I think the nod for that would go to Javier Garza. While not real big, was strong, quick and tough all season on the much improved DL.

At Tue Dec 02, 06:46:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

On Garza: 8 TFLs and 2.5 sacks, second on the team in both categories, deserves a shout out.

At Tue Dec 02, 08:38:00 PM GMT+7, Blogger Jake said...

It sounds like we could make a "most likely to emerge in 2009" category... but I'm a little worried about doing that since I really stink at guessing that sort of thing. But I'm for it in the end.


Jerry Bell, QB

Bruce Fleming, DL

Nico Papas, FB

(Nico was injured this past season but is still highly regarded)

Nick Mistretta, LB

any others?

At Tue Dec 02, 08:39:00 PM GMT+7, Blogger Jake said...

On Garza, I am all for recognizing him. Perhaps, the "worth waiting for" award for the senior who emerged in his final year as a key contributor? I'm not sure there's anyone other than Garza to nominate there.

At Tue Dec 02, 11:35:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have heard great things about hte potential of Peter Holst-Grubbe (not sure of the spelling), the freshman FB who was injured all year. He is apparently 250 pounds and has tailback speed although we show him as a fullback. In response to The Neckman, I fully agree about Shalbrack; he was unfairly dissed when he was not recognized by the coaches. He had a great freshman year and for reasons which escape me has been under everybody's radar for two years. I would like to see him play more of a center field type of free safety next year.

At Wed Dec 03, 12:32:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's what I am saying. You can maybe (others were not in the 1st year) look past him his freshman year, even though he was tied in the nation D1 for interceptions as a freshman, and leading the conference in INTs and fumbles and recoveries to go with his 2 (count'em) ROW awards. The sophomore year was no doubt a record issue for CU even though he put up more INTs and was third in tackles on the team. But three years in a row being off the dance card is travesty and an embarrassment to the coaches.

Andy Shalbrack's position this past year was as a strong safety lining up on the TE side. I suspect this was because of ability to tackle as well as cover and to fight through blocks coming his way.

As far as his ability, I would match him up against AJ Maddox and AK in the 40yd dash. My guess is that he would be damn close if not an outright victor. Nothing against either MAddox or AK, just a comparison on highly respected attributes. Even with the speed and smarts, Shalbrack is also "strong like bull."

Jake, why not ask for some stats on the players from the past year, including bench, squat, deadlift, 40 times, shuttle times, etc. Could be interesting for comparison sake. Linemen can get themselves into this "contest". Could also be a motivating factor for the players if they knew this would become public info.

The Neckman


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