Friday, June 12, 2009

100 Players in 100 Days

We have reached the 100 day countdown to the 2009 season.

Just 100 days left before we finally end our 300 day offseason.

Last year, I tried to make these last 100 days go by faster by sumarizing 100 great Columbia games of the past 139 years or so.

This summer, I thought it would be fun to portray 100 great players of the recent and not-so-recent past. These players will be portrayed in no particular order, and this is NOT my list of the 100 greatest Lions of all time.

But I will focus on ten different players at 10 different positions: wide receiver, offensive lineman, defensive end, defensive tackle, tight end, linebacker, defensive back, quarterback, running back, and kicker.

I'd like to start with wide receivers for the next 10 days and begin with the speedy Travis Chmelka '04, who excelled as a wide receiver and punt returner during four years with the varsity from 2000-2003.

Chmelka made his biggest impact as a senior in the exciting 2003 season. My favorite memory was a huge punt return he brought back for a near TD against Princeton which helped turn a 20-0 deficit into the eventual 33-27 win that stands as one of the great Columbia wins of all time.

He finished 2003 with 57 catches for 667 yards and three TD's... perhaps the most dramatic came at the start of the homecoming game against Penn when he went up in a crowd a grabbed a jump ball at the goaline in the north end zone. It was to be the only real highlight of an historic day for the Lions who were marking the beginning of Columbia's 250th anniversary celebrations.

Chmelka finished his career as the third all-time Columbia receiver for yards with 1,588. And as one astute reader has pointed out, he still holds the record for the longest punt return in Lions history, a 91-yarder for a TD against Fordham in the 2003 opener.

I have no doubt that if Chmelka were 3 inches taller, he would have starred for a BCS team, probably his homestate Nebraska Cornhuskers.


At Fri Jun 12, 07:33:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In addition to being lightning quick, Travis Chmelka had the uncanny ability to fake out defenders at the beginning of his punt returns. He had this cocky little jitterbug move where he looked straight at the defender, faked left or right to slow down and confuse the defender, and then when the defender committed to one side or the other, Travis took off in the opposite direction.

At Fri Jun 12, 09:57:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the first game of his senior season against Fordham, Travis took back a punt for a TD for what is now the current record for the longest punt return in Columbia history. Standing next to me watching this play was Max Carey, an old friend, whose record Travis broke on that play. Max's nephew Chris Carey was captain of that team.


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