Keep Getting Better Alex!
Many of the pundits are focusing on how Columbia will replace the graduating Austin Knowlin and Taylor Joseph at wide receiver and the three starters graduating from the offensive line: Evan Sanford, John Seiler, and Will Lipovsky.
Me? I'm more concerned about the linebacker position where Columbia is losing just one starter to graduation: Corey Cameron.
The problem is not so much graduation, although Cameron did make Honorable Mention All Ivy last season, but injuries.
Just about all worries will be off if Alex Gross can come back from his big knee injury last year against Lafayette. Gross is going to be a two-time captain and was one of the top linebackers in the league over his first 23 games on the varsity before his injury.
The good news is this: if there's anyone who has the heart and push to get better in time for the season, it's Alex Gross.
Including Gross, Columbia has 10 total returning linebackers and at least two more are coming in with the class of 2014. There is definitely talent and experience in that group. For example, Marc Holloway and Nick Mistretta waged a season-long battle for the starting middle linebacker job last year and both players reaped some serious rewards from the experience. But Coach Wilson said a few times that he wanted one of those players to step it up just a bit more and really own the job.
Filling in for Gross at outside linebacker last year, sometimes with stellar results, were Evan Miller, Matt Moretto, (also coming off a major injury), Augie Williams, (who is still officially listed as a strong safety), Chris Paruch, (also officially a safety and also battling injuries), Will Patterson, (who is really acting more like a pass-rush specializing defensive end), and a few others.
Moretto is essentially the same story as Gross, a super talented player who would make a major impact if he keeps healing and plays at the level he did in 2007. I wrote more about what a solid return by the newly-named co-captain Moretto would mean to the team last month.
The incoming freshman linebacker that we know the most about is Brian East from Indiana. East is indeed an outside linebacker coming from a perennial state championship program. But freshmen are, well, freshmen.
Since Columbia uses the 4-3, having three healthy starting linebackers and three or four effective backups will be crucial for the 2010 season. So linebackers coach Greg Sigler has an important job to do this offseason and we wish him the best of luck.
Meet the Coach!
Remember tonight is the special reception for Head Coach Norries Wilson at the home of Matt Sodl in the general L.A. area. In addition to getting to know or catching up with Coach Wilson, a big goal for the evening is to help boost the football program's presence in Southern California for both fan support and recruiting.
Honors for Five Seniors
The National Football Foundation's Hampshire Society is recognizing five graduating Lions, Andy Shalbrack, Evan Sanford, David Brekke, Lou Miller and Jared Morine.
The NFF's growing connections with Columbia, (remember it renamed its premiere award, the Draddy Trophy the Bill Campbell Trophy last year), are a good omen for the future of football and good academics.
Our Coach Madden
Pat Madden was an assistant coach under Ray Tellier and Bob Shoop for six years, now he is joining the staff of the new Omaha Nighthawks of the UFL. Madden was a secondary coach all his years at Columbia, and that's still his job with his new team. Madden will join former Princeton Head Coach Roger Hughes who is also on the Nighthawks staff as wide receivers coach.
During Madden's years, he helped develop some truly great Columbia defensive backs including Steve Cargile, Prosper Nwokocha, Philip Murray, Keenan Shaw, and Tad Crawford.
And a bagel break, a turkey break, etc. etc...
The following announcement is brought to you by Columbia athletics, and my stomach:
Fairway Market in Plainview, Long Island is hosting a shopping event to support the Columbia University Lions on Wednesday, May 19th.
Fairway offers a ginormous variety of specialty and imported items to traditional groceries, always at the lowest everyday prices. Come to discover fresh baked-from-scratch goods, top quality produce, a cheese and deli selection to-die-for, and so much more!
Intrigued? Print out a registration form here , or go to Fairway Plainview at the Columbia Lions table from 2:00pm – 9:30pm on May 19th, and 25% of your shopping purchase will go to support Columbia’s 700+ student athletes! You can also pick up a free gift from Columbia Athletics!
Supporting a good cause has never been so delicious!
Fairway Market, Plainview is located at 50 Manetto Hill Mall, Plainview, NY 11803. Tel: 516-937-5402
For more information, call 212-854-7031.
Fairway has been a really good friend of Columbia sports, and is a sponsor of the TV broadcasts on GoColumbiaLions.com.
The Plainview Fairway in particular is a favorite in my house and we even used them to cater the party we had for my younger daughter when she was born.