Saturday, May 22, 2010

Tight Spot

Andrew Kennedy

Most Ivy head coaches talk about how hard it is to recruit top running backs and defensive linemen.

The stats prove that point, especially the fact that there was not even one 1,000-yard rusher in the Ivies last season.

But one position that I think has become super hard to fill with top talent is tight end.

That's why Columbia is relying so much on senior co-captain Andrew Kennedy to have a bang-up final season for the Lions.

Perhaps "bang-up" isn't the best phrase to use, since Kennedy was indeed hurt and unable to play in the spring game. The Lions need him to return at full speed this fall.

Kennedy does a lot of things the traditional tight end doesn't do. Most notably, he's fast and the sight of Kennedy sprinting down the hash marks wasn't uncommon last season. His five TD receptions, (from a total of 21 catches), were the biggest reasons he made Second Team All Ivy for 2009.

The best overall tight end in the Ivies last year was John Sheffield at Yale, who grabbed an amazing 61 passes for 612 yards but had only two touchdowns. But he is gone to graduation. The Ivy coaches were generous in the Honorable Mention All Ivy category, putting three TE's on the list: Dartmouth's John Gallagher, (30 catches, 288 yards and one TD for the rising junior, Harvard's Nicolai Schwarzkopf, (12 catches 174 yards and one TD for the rising senior), and Penn's Luke Nawrocki (11 catches, 88 yards, and two TD's for the rising junior).

Schwarzkopf and Nawrocki were also excellent blockers, but their receiving stats say something about how this position has suffered as the passing totals in the Ivies start to decline.

This all makes Kennedy the preseason favorite for 1st Team All Ivy in 2010. But watch out for Schwarzkopf, who was rated the #1 overall incoming freshmen recruit in the Ivies back in 2007 and he may get a little extra attention in his final year for the Crimson.

As the Columbia staff works to replenish the wide receiving corps after the graduations of Austin Knowlin and Taylor Joseph, it's important not to forget that Kennedy could end up picking up a lot of the receiving slack in 2010.

QB Sean Brackett and Kennedy seem to have established a good rhythm on the field during Brackett's four starts last season. The highlight was the 31-yard TD Brackett tossed to Kennedy in the Yale game.

Columbia's last dominant tight end was Wade Fletcher who was an uncoverable target for Jeff Otis and the exciting 2003 Lion team. Matt Less was also a force in the late 80's.

But the man Kennedy most needs to emulate is Brian Bassett, who made 3rd Team All America in 1994 with 62 catches for 793 yards. Bassett was a key part of an offense that featured speedy Mike Cavanuagh and passing ace Jamie Schwalbe splitting time at QB that season. 1994 was Columbia's first winning season in 23 years, so that was a great combination.

If Brackett is 2010's version of Cavanaugh and/or Jerry Bell is 2010's version of Schwalbe, it would be best of all if Kennedy is 2010's version of Brian Bassett.

Kennedy and Bassett have lots of other things in common. Both are New Englanders. Both came to CU and played TE after playing different positions in high school, (Bassett was a QB, Kennedy was a defensive lineman). And both Kennedy and Bassett began their senior seasons weighing about 230 pounds.

With so few teams featuring a truly dangerous TE, any Ivy team that does have one has an advantage. Columbia must grab this opportunity this fall.


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At Sat May 22, 03:36:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger HBShannon said...

That changes with the 2014 Class.

Harvard picked up two outstanding Division 1 TE talents in 4 star Blake Barker who passed on Florida, Stanford, Boston College and a host of others and 2 star Tyler Ott, who turned down Tulsa, Houston and Toledo.

At Sat May 22, 09:03:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't believe that it is friggin May 21, and we still don't have the official list of recruits.

At Sat May 22, 07:53:00 PM GMT+7, Blogger Jake said...

Dr. V:

I think it's always been released sometime between the 20th and the 30th. Meanwhile, read and re-read my unofficial lst of 30 incoming frosh that I stand behind for accuracy.

At Sun May 23, 03:26:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't mind waiting for the official list to be published if it includes another standout player or two. Rumor has it that there still are a couple more outstanding incoming players.

At Mon May 24, 12:32:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A very reliable source tells me that we did very well.

At Mon May 24, 12:32:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

PS, the word on the young man from Fordham Prep is that he is a "difference maker".

At Mon May 24, 07:31:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jake, I greatly appreciate what you have done in terms of compiling info and I have no doubt about your accuracy. But that does not affect my annoyance at the official list being released later and later. I don't recall when last year's list was released, but over the last 10 to 15 years the release has gradually been pushed back by about a month.

At Mon May 24, 10:23:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is kennedy for sure going to be ready for the season? pope and lopez didn't wow me in spring. any recruits coming in that could make an impact at tight end?

At Mon May 24, 11:22:00 PM GMT+7, Blogger Jake said...

In all fairness, the list can't go out until a few days after May 1st when the officials acceptance letters go out. Also, I understand the delays are sometimes the fault of the actual incoming players, who often don't provide the requested biographical information.

At Mon May 24, 11:23:00 PM GMT+7, Blogger Jake said...

I'm optimistic about Kennedy being ready.

At Mon May 24, 11:56:00 PM GMT+7, Blogger friend12 said...

I went to the archives and found the following announcement dates. Dr. V, the list date did increase the last 4 years, but, 2005 & 2004 came out later. In 2004 the list didn't come out until July. I really think anytime in May is to be expected and a later date is more likely based on the increasing sizes which requires more time to get bios as Jake mentioned. A new manager is probably also having an effect this year.


At Tue May 25, 05:43:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

While would like to see the final list of recruits, it's of marginal interest. As we've seen in the past some don't go out for the team, while others don't live up to their reps, and still others exceed expectations.

At Tue May 25, 08:56:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We already know of 30 names we can probably count on, so it really shouldn't be such a big deal. Give it a rest and enjoy the list when it does come out (my guess is this week).

At Tue May 25, 09:03:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We are going to have an outstanding class no matter when the names are made official. Speed, speed and more speed.

At Tue May 25, 09:10:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I heard that the final list is likely to include another standout player who was recruited by numerous Ivies, but chose Columbia. Regarding tight end, we have some very promising players coming in from Georgia and Louisiana.


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