The Best Defense
Jake's Columbia Football Team of the Decade: DEFENSE
In the 2000's, Columbia was blessed with many very talented defensive linemen, linebackers, and defensive backs.
Sadly, not enough of them played at the exact same time. Thus, Lion defenses gave up an average of 27.6 points per game in this decade and suffered through four seasons where they allowed more than 30 points per game.
But there were some good years and 2006 was the best. The Lion defense allowed just 163 points that season and no less than five of the members of my all-decade defense were contributors on the 2006 squad.
DT-Michael Quarshie '05
Quarshie was a great example of how the transfer rule can really work to create a great Ivy player and scholar. The Finnish native came to Columbia via Saint Peters College and he became one of the most dominant defensive players in Lion history. He once notched an incredible eight tackles for a loss in a SINGLE GAME, and was 1st Team All Ivy as a senior, 2nd Team as a junior.
DT-Todd Abrams '07
After three solid seasons as a linebacker, the coaches asked Abrams to bulk up and move to the nose tackle position for his senior campaign of 2006. The switch proved to be fantastic as Abrams was on the front lines for the huge turnaround that saw the Lions go from giving up almost 34 points per game in 2005 to allowing just over 16 points per contest the following season. Todd also scored two of the most important defensive TD's of the decade: the initial score in the season opener against Fordham on a bad snap that landed in the end zone and the key turning point TD against Brown in the season finale after the Bear QB fumbled during a sack.
DE-Lou Miller '10
The Lions all-time and single season sack leader finished his career by leading the Ivies in sacks his last two seasons. Lou is one of the most respected and feared pass rushers in Columbia history. Like Abrams, he made the shift to defensive line from linebacker. Two-time 1st Team All Ivy.
DE-Jeff Roether '04
A great pass rusher who led the team in sacks in each of his final two seasons. Honorable Mention All Ivy as a Junior.
Adam Brekke (Credit: Columbia Athletics)
LB-Adam Brekke '07
A fantastic team leader on and off the field for four full seasons at Columbia. Truly a leader of the linebacking corps from day one when he was pressed into duty as an emergency starter when captain Chris Carey went down with injury. Brekke was named captain himself for his senior season of 2006, and he responded with monster stats including 80+ tackles and a huge INT return for a TD in the Cornell win in week 9. Brekke was recently accepted to med school here in the U.S. Made 2nd Team All Ivy as a senior.
LB-Alex Gross '11
Even with just two full seasons under his belt, Alex Gross was a huge impact player for the 2000's. Broke into the league in 2007 and won Ivy League Rookie of the Year honors and followed that up in 2008 with a rare 1st Team All Ivy slot for a sophomore linebacker. Much of the Lions hopes in 2010 hang on his ability to come back from his bad knee injury in week 4 at Lafayette.
LB-Drew Quinn '09
One of the great, and often wounded, warriors of the 2000's. Quinn started getting on the field regularly during his freshman year of 2005, but he really started contributing seriously in 2006. He had 82 tackles that season, 88 in his senior season of 2008 and 62 in 2007 despite playing with a painful leg injury that entire season. Made 2nd Team All Ivy as a senior.
The two-time 1st Team All Ivy and one-time 2nd Team All Ivy safety was the best thing the tiny town of Mesquite, Texas ever sent to Morningside Heights. Murray finished his career, and still is, tied for the Lions all-time interception lead with the great Lou Kusserow with 16. His 85-yard TD return for a TD against Yale in 2001 as time ran out in the first half was one of the five best plays of the decade.
Crawford was a tackling machine for four years at Columbia, leading the team in that category for each of his final three years. Some of his success was due to the Lions inability to snuff out running plays at the line, but Crawford often made sure the bad didn't turn into the ugly. He was also excellent against the pass. The 1st Team All Ivy star in 2006 has gone on to an impressive career in his home country in the CFL.
CB-Steve Cargile '04
Moved from wide receiver to safety just in time for his senior season of 2003, and he made a huge impression in just that one year. He ended up leading the team in tackles and wrecked havoc in the opponents' passing game. Made 2nd Team All Ivy in '03 and went on to the NFL as a defensive back.
CB-Prosper Nwokocha '06
A great team leader who burst onto the scene as a sophomore with two crucial interceptions in the 2003 win over Harvard. Two time Honorable Mention All Ivy, and a 2nd Team All Ivy his senior season of 2005. Also a great kick returner, his kickoff return for a TD at Fordham turned the tide in that emotional win for the Lions in 2005.
NEXT WEEK: The Special Teams