Team of the 2000's OFFENSE
I wrapped up my top 10 list of the best Columbia football games of the 2000's last week. So now it's time to focus on the individual stars.
Today I have my list of my All-Decade Offense. It was not easy making any of these picks, and I could list a lot of honorable mentions, but I'll leave that to you guys in the comments section and we can pick up the debate there.
Jake's Columbia Football Team of the Decade OFFENSE
QB-Jeff Otis '05
This was a very tough call. Craig Hormann, Jeff McCall and M.A. Olawale all have legitimate claims on this spot, but Otis has some key factors on his side. 1) His 2003 season was the single best year for any Columbia QB in 20 years. The 2003 team was also one of the best, if not the best of the decade. 2) In 2004, his stats dipped, but that was mostly due to the injury sustained by superstar tight end Wade Fletcher. And Otis' year still wasn't that bad from an individual stanpoint.
Jeff simply had a great arm, decent legs, and he was just so mentally and physically tough.
His best games include two of the top 10 wins of the 2000's -- the 16-13 win over Harvard and the 33-27 Hail Mary win over Princeton, both in 2003.
RB-Johnathan Reese '02
This was the easiest choice to make for this team. Reese is the Lions all time leading rusher. He was the biggest star of the decade, even though of his four seasons on this team were in the previous decade! He was the man, period.
RB-Ayo Oluwole '05
Ayo had one of the best individual seasons of any Lion in the 2000's. He came out of obscurity as an injury replacement in 2003 and finished the season as with the third best single year rushing stats in Columbia history. He also just seemed to never fumble.
OG-Matt Himelstein '02
Matt was a two-time Honorable Mention All Ivy offensive guard and often paved the way for Johnathan Reese's runs. The Jewish Sports Review named him to its All America team in 2001.
OG-Matt Barsamian '07
Other than Jeff Adams, Matt was the only 1st Team All Ivy offensive lineman for Columbia in the 2000's. Matt took the lead on a very young and overmatched front line during both the 2005 and 2006 seasons and finally helped mold the unit into a workable group by the end of the 2006 season. Columbia's improved rushing attack in the final two games, (both victories), of 2006 was a big plus. Matt also helped lead the way as Columbia drastically cut down on sacks allowed during his senior season.
C-Evan Sanford '10
Columbia often found itself behind the 8-ball at this position in the 2000's. But the last two seasons were marked by stability and then strength at center thanks to Evan Sanford. M.A. Olawale's many running plays almost always went right up the middle and Sanford was a big reason why those plays were possible.
Kevin Coco today, attorney at law
OT-Kevin Coco '04
One of the most inspiring stories of the 2000's at Columbia was Kevin Coco's ascent to the top level of offensive linemen in the Ivies and stay there despite a season-ending, and frankly very scary, injury in early 2002. After that injury, Coco came back to play a huge role in Columbia's successful 2003 season and the great running stats put up by Ayo Oluwole. Coco made the All Ivy 2nd Team for 2003.
OT-Jeff Adams '12
It's only been one year on the varsity for Jeff Adams. But what a year it was! Adams became that very rare sophomore to make 1st Team All Ivy as an offensive lineman. Running to the left became a favorite tactic all season for Columbia in 2009, and the blind side for all the QB's never seemed in jeopardy. And Adams has two more years to show what he can do, making him the only active Lion on this list.
Wade Fletcher's Hail Mary Grab
TE-Wade Fletcher '05
This is another very, very easy choice for the all-decade team. Fletcher really took the whole league by storm when he came to Columbia from Northern Colorado and sat out his transfer year. His 6-7, 242 pound frame, coupled with good speed just made it impossible to cover him. His grab of the Hail Mary game-winning TD pass from Jeff Otis against Princeton in 2003 stands as one of the greatest plays in Lion history.
WR-Austin Knowlin '10
He's Columbia's all-time leading receiver in catches, yards, and "oh wow" plays. Austin Knowlin was the single most exciting Lion of the 2000's, and perhaps of a generation. He worked well with four different starting QB's and never showed evidence of a letdown.
WR-Travis Chmelka '04
Travis was possibly the fastest Lion of the 2000's, and he put real fear into opposing defenses and kick coverage teams. Travis also worked well with a slew of different starting QB's from Jeff McCall to Steve Hunsberger to Jeff Otis.
NEXT WEEK: THE DEFENSE