The Right Recipe
Marcellus Wiley (top) and Rory Wilfork made a fearsome pair in 1996
They've been naming All Ivy football teams ever since league play officially began in 1956.
In all that time, Columbia has enjoyed the labors of more than one returning 1st Team All Ivy defensive player a grand total of one time.
It happened in 1996 when two-time, (and eventual three-time), 1st Team All Ivy linebacker Rory Wilfork teamed up with Marcellus Wiley, (who was a 1st teamer in 1994 before taking 1995 off), who was the Ivy's dominant defensive lineman of the era.
The Lions roared out of the gate at 6-0, finished 8-2 and were generally regarded as the best Columbia team in more than a generation.
2009 will mark the second time in history that the Lions have two returning 1st team defenders. They are senior Lou Miller and junior Alex Gross.
Like Wiley and Wilfork, they are one defensive lineman and one linebacker. And while
I don't see them as being as inhumanly dominant as Wiley and Wilfork were, Miller and Gross provide a very good reason to be optimistic about the defense.
Joining them on "D" is an unusually strong supporting cast of other stars including Owen Fraser on the D-line, the experienced Corey Cameron at linebacker, and Andy Shalbrack in the secondary.
In a more fair world, Shalbrack would be a returning 1st Team All Ivy as well, but he has another year to impress the opposing coaches.
Of course I'm leaving out a lot of names, but this sure seems like the best defense Columbia has had since 1996.
I'm only worried about two things: 1) the loss of Drew Quinn at MLB and 2) the secondary's issues with the deep ball last year.
But I am comforted by the fact that we seem to be stacked at linebacker with the return of Gross and Cameron and the emergence of players like Marc Holloway and Nick Mistretta. I also hope that Matt Moretto will be back at his 2007 level after getting injured last season.
As for the deep ball, remember that the talented starting corners last season were Calvin Otis, then a soph and Kalasi Huggins, a frosh. They are great athletes who I know will get better with the more experience they have now.
And as much as that 1996 defense was great, the offense was... well, not so good. This year's defense may be not as dominant at the '96 Lions, but the offense is definitely more potent. If it can improve as much as the defense did last year from 2007, watch out!
For those of you who are Facebook users, I can recommend a few pages you might like to check out.
First, we have the "I was at Columbia for 'The Game' -October 8, 1988" page. Lots of good memories there.
Second, I found former Head Coach Larry MacElreavy's Facebook page just today. He'd love to hear from some of his former players, by the way.
There are more pages that are perfect for Columbia football fans, so have some fund with the search bar.
And no, Facebook did not pay me for these plugs!
Get Your Tickets Now!!!
Speaking of things that are perfect for Columbia football fans, they've put the season ticket package up for sale on the Columbia Athletics Web site and there's a good sense of urgency here for real fans.
If you buy by June 15th, you'll get the invite to the coaches' pre-season dinner event in August. I went last year, and it was really great. It was a unique opportunity to chat with the staff, AND a lot of former Columbia football players showed up too, so you can't lose... unless you end up talking to me.