Thursday, May 29, 2008

Brown's List Unveiled

Phil Estes is a good hometown salesman

Brown's list of incoming freshman football players has been released, leaving only Harvard, Penn, and Princeton still unannounced.

One thing that's always impressed me about Brown, particularly under Coach Estes, is the program's ability to attract so many Rhode Island products. Yes it's a small state, but it's so close to Harvard and Yale and URI is of course right around corner.

I didn't see any names on the Brown list that were part of our publicly-known wish list. Remember that last year both Columbia and Brown claimed Brian England on their incoming freshman lists before we knew for sure that England was going to be a Lion. Good thing too, England was one of our most valuable freshman.

After last season's strong finish, and the rise of QB Michael Doughtety and flanker Bobby Sewall, I expect Brown to be picked third or higher in the preseason poll.

So what's keeping Harvard, Penn and Princeton from coughing up their lists? It could be a million things, but somehow I think Internet sites like this one have scared many schools from posting info about incoming players. I don't think those fears are 100% warranted, but caution is understandable when it comes to the 'net.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Early Harvest?

Steven Grassa (CREDIT:

Columbia is going back to the high school that brought us Nico Papas, hoping to secure another future star.

Buckingham Browne Nichols School's Steven Grassa has reportedly already been offered a spot at Columbia and at Army and Navy. This, even though he's a member of the class of 2009.

The speedy safety attended the summer football camp up at Baker Field last year, and the camp itself is definitely helping our recruiting efforts in a big way.

Remember that Papas was a very early "commit" as he signed on during the 2007 regular season. Hopefully Grassa will follow in his former teammate's footsteps.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Well THAT'S Cool!

Calhoun High School: Breeding ground of Champions!

So it turns out someone from my neighborhood is joining the Columbia women's basketball team next season!

Her name is Jazmin Fuller and she's from North Bellmore like me! (Well, it's where I've lived since 2004).

Good luck Jazmin! Defend the honor of North Bellmore!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Leo the Lion

Lou's Lions were mighty indeed

Leo Ward '52, one of Lou Little's players from the late 1940's-early 1950's died Monday in Pennsylvania, he was 78.

Here's a key line from his obituary:

While a student at Admiral Farragut Academy in New Jersey, his defensive moves earned him a nomination to the first New Jersey All-State Prep School team.

He drew the attention of Columbia University football coaches, who recruited him to play for their school. As defensive halfback and later defensive end, Ward played under the legendary coach Lou Little, and recalled team pep talks by former President Dwight Eisenhower, then university president.

Ward went on to become a key football historian and later founded a local historical society.

As more and more of Lou Little's Lions begin to leave us, it becomes more and more important to work to preserve his legacy at Columbia. This is something I know the athletic department is working hard at, as the weekend honoring Little's surviving players back in 2006 proved. We need more events like this in the future.

Lou's men were remarkable indeed.

Saved by Science

Will Claunch has overcome a lot to make it to Columbia

Here is a fascinating story about incoming freshman Will Claunch and the innovative surgical process that saved his finger and his athletic career.

This says something about how sports injuries, and the way that they lead to medical breakthroughs that athletes and non-athletes can benefit from in the long run. The sports medicine professionals assigned to the Columbia football team are some of the best in the world.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

JoJo's Wise Words

1961 was a very good year for Marvin... and the Lions

Today is Columbia's University-wide graduation day, but the festivities for all the various schools began over the weekend.

Graduating senior co-captain JoJo Smith gave a speech at the Baccalaureate Service at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine on Sunday. He's posted the speech on his site.

I wish I had known about JoJo's site before today, but everyone can catch up by reading the archives.

Just as a side bar, it's pretty obvious that Mr. Smith is a Marvin Gaye fan. Specifically, it seems he really likes two of my all-time favorite hits: "Ain't that Peculiar," and "I'll be Doggone." Put those together with "The Ecological Song," "Grapevine," "Inner City Blues","Got to Give it Up," and "Sexual Healing," and you have a very fantastic 23 minutes of music.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

No Excuses!

Baker Field is not such a handicap after all

Many readers have pointed out this nice piece in the New York Times about the baseball team.

For what seems like a gazillion years, the critics have told us that Columbia sports teams that practice and play at Baker Field can't win because of the annoying commute to practice, etc.

Baseball's championship this season and the championship for women's soccer in 2006 put the lie to that statement, hopefully once and for all.

But it will probably take a football championship to happen before everyone stops talking about the "Baker Field Effect."

Speaking of Baker Field, here's a great picture I haven't seen of the football stadium sometime in the 1950's. Note the great houses on the other side of the river that are no longer there.

First Impressions

Today's list contained some nice surprises

There are some nice new finds in our announced class of 2012:

1) Ben Evans, OL

Evans comes from the St. Louis area and a high school league that has produced Lion stars including Johnathan Reese, Kirby Mack and Todd Abrams. He's got great size a 6"6 and 275 lbs., leading me to believe he could also end up on the defensive line.

2) Chris Groth, DL

Another big midwestern kid at 6"3 and 280 pounds. Another player who could end up helping the D-line or the O-line.

3) Ryan Haslett, FS

We already knew Haslett was on the way. But the highly-honored high school QB enters as a defensive player at free safety. I take his position change as a positive sign for a lot of reasons as it shows this kid is being flexible and that we're not desperate at the QB slot for now.

4) Bob Hauschildt, OL

Yet ANOTHER 6"6 offensive lineman, this time a 280-pounder. Works for me.

5) 32 Newcomers

This is a nice number, pushing our total team membership over 100 players even before we get some expected news on a transfer or two. Player retention and overall roster size were key goals for this coaching staff and they seem to have achieved that in record time.

6) No Bad Surprises

My personally highest rated recruits, fullback Nico Papas and linebacker Nick Mistretta were indeed on the official list. I would not have been a happy camper if I hadn't seen their names today.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Class of 2012 List Released!

Welcome to Campus!

Columbia's list of incoming football freshmen is out.

Most of the names were already known to us, but there were quite a few new names and surprises.

I will post more on this later today, but another headline appears to be that transfers were not listed here at all.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Gone Forever?

Troy Evangelist in his high school years

It appears that tight end Troy Evangelist is no longer with the team. His loss hurts a lot because he had so much potential.

I'm not sure if injuries, of which Troy had quite a few over the years, or something else drove him off the roster, but his 6"6 frame will be missed. Of course, he may come back; stranger things have happened.

I think this makes sophomore Andrew Kennedy the de facto starting tight end for next season. He looked good in a number of games last year and has a lot of athletic ability.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Hardcourt or Gridiron?

Chris Crockett (Credit:

A high school senior who was orginally listed as a Dartmouth running back recruit has switched to Columbia... to play basketball.

His name is Chris Crockett and I suppose it's possible, if not highly probable, that he could end up playing football. I don't think the Ivies truly allow students to play both basketball and football at the same time anymore, but it used to be somewhat common. I know former Columbia standout and eventual "Head Hog" George Starke played both for the Lions in the early 70's. If he ends up on the football field, it would probably be a 100% switch and not double-duty.

Crockett may be choosing basketball because of an injury he suffered in football last fall:

From This Week News:

Crockett played basketball and football at Academy. IN HIS JUNIOR SEASON, HE WAS FIRST-TEAM ALL-STATE IN BOTH SPORTS.

IN FOOTBALL, HE RUSHED FOR 1,936 YARDS AND 34 TOUCHDOWNS ON 191 CARRIES AS A JUNIOR. As a senior, he dislocated his right kneecap during the Vikings’ third game of the season Sept. 7 against Centerburg. The injury required surgery and Crockett missed the remainder of the football season.

In basketball, he averaged 23.6 points per game and was the Division IV district and MSL-Ohio Player of the Year as a junior. As a senior, Crockett returned from his injury with five games remaining in the regular season and averaged 14.8 points in 11 games.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Linebacker U?

Alex Gross looks to build on his Rookie of the Year season (CREDIT: Columbia Athletics/Gene Boyars)

Columbia's 3-5-3 defensive alignment, which appears to be on its way out after what we saw in the spring game, had mixed results in its two seasons of existence.

It seemed to work well in 2006 as it made the defense quicker and players seemed less locked-in to set roles and they all attacked the ball. In 2007, it was more of a disaster, as the Lions failed to plug up the middle week after week.

But one lasting benefit was the bumper crop of talented linebackers we had on the roster. Alignment changes and some other factors have thinned the linebacker ranks out a bit, which is why I think Columbia will go with a 4-3 defense in 2008. But losses aside, there still is some good talent at the linebacker position.

Jake's Projected Starters

Leading the unit is 2007 co-captain Drew Quinn, who may be our best overall defensive weapon. Drew battled injuries all last season, but he still managed to rack up 62 tackles which was second most on the team. He's also shouldered the huge task of mentoring the younger players and teaching them the playbook. Just thinking about what a healthy Quinn could do in a traditional middle linebacker role is exciting.

Joining Quinn at linebacker is 2007 Ivy League Rookie of the Year Alex Gross, who started piling up the tackles in the second half of the season and never stopped. Gross ended up leading the team with 80 tackles, an extraordinary achievement for a freshman. He also had eight tackles for a loss with two sacks. Gross probably needs to add some bulk and strength to be just as effective this coming season, but I think he can do it.

After Quinn and Gross, Lion fans may not be familiar with the rest of the returning key linebackers. But lost in the haze of last year's 1-9 season was the strong play of freshman Matt Moretto, who finished with 45 tackles and two pass break-ups. Moretto caught my eye when I watched some of summer training camp last year, and I think he has a great shot at starting this season. Moretto also needs a little more bulk, so look for him to be in the weight room a lot this summer.

Key Back-Ups

Last year, I thought Marc Holloway was the incoming freshman most likely to see key playing time. But he ended up getting into only three games. I still think he has tremendous potential, and I wouldn't be surprised if he steps it up in 2008.

Another rising sophomore I like is Derek Lipscomb who basically walked on to the team and showed great effort in seven games played last season.

And then there's senior Corey Cameron, who certainly should be in the running for more playing time because of his experience.

Key Losses

Bayo Aregbe made a courageous return to the team last year despite some rough injuries, but he has graduated.

Rising junior Justin Masorti is currently off the roster and will be sorely missed if he does not return for the regular season. Of course, we miss him already.

Key Newcomers

So far, we know of three very strong looking linebackers in the incoming freshmen class.

One is Nick Mistretta from New Jersey powerhouse Don Bosco Prep. He is definitely one of our top recruits overall and looks to be the right size already to compete in Ivy ball.

Another is Brendan Mulheran from Lincoln-Way East high school outside of Chicago. I believe Brendan is the player Columbia originally wanted for last season who chose to try to walk on at Notre Dame instead. Now, I believe he is going to be on our roster this season.

And there's Lou Miller's little brother Evan Miller also from national power St. Xavier in Cincinnati. With Lou moving to the defensive line, Evan can team up with fellow St. X grad Drew Quinn at linebacker.

More Names

Yale has joined Dartmouth and Cornell in naming its incoming class of 2012 football team members.

A super-looking halfback Columbia wanted named Alex Thomas is on their list, but we sort of knew he was going their way a while ago. Otherwise, I don't see any other names that were publicly on Columbia's recruiting wish list.

There is also no mention of UConn transfer Danny Russell who was deciding between Columbia and Yale. I take that to be a good sign that he'll be playing at Baker Field for us this season.

Here's a nice picture from the Web Site of our baseball champions. We'll find out at the end of the month who they play next in the NCAA Regionals.

And if you need any more evidence that the New York City press is ready to give Columbia its due when we win, read this short entry in today's Daily News.

Sure it's just a little mention, but the Daily News has a circulation of 681,000!

Thursday, May 08, 2008


Henry Perkins saved the games for the Lions (CREDIT: Columbia Athletics/Ben Shyman)


Columbia has won it's first Ivy baseball title since 1976 with an exciting 7-5 win over Dartmouth.

Congratulations to Coach Brett Boretti and game heroes Alex Ferrera and Henry Perkins.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Wednesday Quick Hits

Nick Cox's speed would look great on a football field too (CREDIT: Columbia Athletics/John Forthun)

First off, good luck to the Columbia baseball team as it attempts to wrap up the Ivy baseball championship this afternoon after splitting a thrilling doubleheader at Dartmouth yesterday. Columbia won the first game 11-7 and came all the way back from 14-3 down to tie game 2 before falling 16-15. The deciding game of the series will again be streamed live on the Columbia athletics website.

Two Ivy schools have published their lists of incoming football freshmen. Cornell's list includes a nice bio for each player. None of the incoming Big Red were publicly known potential recruits for Columbia. But WR Jon Scheidler is from the recent bastion of Columbia talent, St. Xavier high school in Cincinnati. Another wide receiver, Tom Randall, is from New Jersey power and frequent Ivy feeder Bergen Catholic.

Dartmouth's list is also devoid of any publicly known Columbia targets. The 12 early decision recruits were profiled in more detail back in January.

Columbia still has not named captains for the 2008 football team. I have to say that worries me a bit, since younger college players need as much mentoring and leadership as possible. But perhaps this is a new strategy that will work out.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Big Weekend

Senior Co-Captain Henry Perkins (CREDIT: Columbia Athletics/Mike McLaughlin)

The Columbia baseball team heads to Hanover to play Dartmouth for the Ivy League title tomorrow and their is a fan bus available!

Columbia Athletics is sponsoring a spectator bus for fans to support the Lions at the Ivy League Baseball Championship at Dartmouth, Saturday, May 3. The bus will depart for Hanover, N.H. from Broadway/116th Street at 7 a.m. and return immediately following the second game of the doubleheader. Seating is limited and roundtrip bus tickets will cost $30 for alumni, faculty/staff and fans, $20 for students. There is no admission charge for the games. Bus tickets can be purchased at the Dodge Fitness Center during normal business hours. For more information, contact or 888-LIONS-11. Registration will conclude when all seats on the bus are sold or at 5 p.m. on Friday.

Also, you can see the game on the web if you sign up for the Side Lion Pass, (why haven't you already?).

A baseball title this year would be a nice boost for the overall athletic program.

Let's go Lions!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Columbia Reunion on the Lake

That should say: "The Columbia Browns"

Joining Craig Hormann on the Cleveland Browns roster is Steve Cargile '04, who has bounced around a few teams in his NFL career.

This is a homecoming for Cargile who grew up and went to high school in the Cleveland area, (also one of my many ephemeral homes).

Cargile and Hormann never actually played together at Columbia. They just missed each other as Hormann entered school the fall after Cargile graduated. It would be fun if they could both make the roster come September.