Saturday, July 25, 2009

Day 55: Fletch Lived!

Wade Fletcher with the Giants

You could really make the argument that Columbia has never had a more dominant tight end than Wade Fletcher '05 in 2003. At 6-foot-7 and 242 pounds, Fletcher was a massive target who terrorized defenders and stood even taller in the clutch.

Fletcher was a transfer student from Northern Colorado Junior College, and thus had to sit out the entire 2002 season by rule.

In '03 he was more than ready to go as he and QB Jeff Otis '05 got into a good rhythm immediately in the week one close loss to Fordham. In that game, Fletcher had 6 catches for 104 yards and a TD.

The following week he just 5 grabs for 73 yards, but that included a 31 yard TD reception where he sneaked away from the entire Bucknell defense in the 19-16 Lion win.

Then came week 3 against Princeton and what would become one of the most memorable moments in Columbia football history. With the score tied at 27 and just a few seconds left, Otis heaved a Hail Mary pass into a crowd in the end zone and Fletcher came down with it for a 49 yard TD. Fletch had another super game in the 16-13 win over Harvard later in the season as he had 9 receptions for 107 yards.

Fletcher finished the year with 59 catches for 874 yards and 9 touchdowns. He still had to settle for 2nd Team All Ivy honors.

Then came the preseason injury that ruined much of the 2004 season for Fletcher and kept Columbia from who knows how many more wins in that disappointing season. He still had 52 catches for 575 yards, but only two TD's.

After Columbia, Fletcher got a shot to make the New York Giants and he did latch on to the practice squad for a time, but he didn't get on the field in a regular season game.

Ever since he graduated in 2005, Columbia has been looking for a truly "go-to" tight end. He casts a big shadow even now.


At Mon Jul 27, 06:09:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't forget Mike Telep, maybe Columbia's first big time pass-catching big man!

At Mon Jul 27, 07:08:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Telep the first?? Go back a few years to Bob Federspiel (Jake, how about some notes on him?), and before that, of course, to the immortal Bill Swiacki.

At Mon Jul 27, 12:55:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can't say that I'm familiar with Federspiel, but was Swiacki a tight end? He's listed just as an end in the college football hall of fame -- did they designate tight ends in those days? He was 6-2/198 which I'm sure was very big for a skilled position then. (I knew his son who was a tremendous college athlete and is a great guy.)

At Mon Jul 27, 07:25:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bob Federspiel was a standout tight end in the late 1950's. Before Federspiel, we had in the mid-50's Jim Mooney and Ron ("ZiP) Szcypkowski, both of whom were outstanding receivers. If I remember correctly, Columbia's quarterback at that time, was Claude Benham, who was from Virginia. Now, there's a guy you might want to write about, Jake. Benham was a little guy, about 5'8", but he was a great athlete, an amazing quarterback, and pound for ppound, perhaps the best quarterback in Columbia history. He compensated for his lack of size, by throwing jump passes all over Baker Field. He was Columbia's Doug Flutie in the fifties. Rumor had it that Benham was such a great athlete that he would have starred at any sport he wanted at Columbia.

At Mon Jul 27, 08:03:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of the reasons Columbia won the Ivy League Championship in 1961was that it had three very talented ends in Buzz Congram, Dick Hassan and Ron Williams. All three were big, tough football players,excellent targets, for Vass and unselfish good guys.

At Mon Jul 27, 10:11:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ditto on Claude Benham. John Bateman, a Columbia player ('37) and assistant coach, and later head coach at Rutgers, said Benham was the best college player he ever coached. Bateman was on the sidelines for more than 20 years, and coached Rutgers to an undefeated season (its only one?). Benham was an all-American in a class that included QBs John Brodie, Paul Hornung and Len Dawson -- exceptional company. I think Benham is a physician now.

At Tue Jul 28, 03:05:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jake, how about a whole piece on Claude Benham?

At Tue Jul 28, 03:07:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger Jake said...

Benham is IN when I get to QB's in a few weeks. Thanks for all the great names!


Post a Comment

<< Home