What Ever Happened to...
Alex Gross and Paul Havas, still members of the Lion class of 2011
As we await the announcement of the football class of 2014, I thought I would look back at some of the raw numbers from the class of 2011 based on the time we first learned about those players way back in May of 2007.
An amazing 40 freshmen were announced as the Columbia football class of 2011 three years ago this month. (By contrast, I expect 32 new players to be announced this time, and even that is going to be more than most Ivy schools).
With a class that size, you knew there would be some attrition by the time the 2010 season rolled around.
And there has been, but not anywhere near what even the most optimistic fan could have predicted.
Of those 40 players, 27 remain on the Lion roster today. That 27 includes all four captains, and 12 players that I believe will be non-special teams starters or platooned starters this season.
That 68% retention rate alone would justify anyone getting excited about getting the official word on the incoming class of 2014.
But the problem is, no matter how much background data you have, it's impossible to know right now which players will be in that 68% group, (if that rate even holds up).
How impossible is it?
Injuries are the biggest stumbling block. For example, Leon Ivery came into Columbia with a history of painful bone spurs in his feet... and yet he is not only still on the team, but he had a major playing time breakthrough last season.
Meanwhile, another member of the class of 2011 quit the team and school to go play professional poker!
Like I said, you can never tell.
But at the same time, I hate using the "you can never tell" line as a crutch to avoid making predictions or, (admittedly), amateur evaluations of incoming players.
As soon as the list goes official, I'll try to simply stay positive and flag 3-4 players I think look strong as future star prospects.
Back at this time three years ago, I predicted Marc Holloway was going to be a star for the Lions. I also predicted he had the best chance of getting on the field as a freshman for the 2007 season. Holloway did eventually become a starter, but it took two seasons, mostly because he played behind the great Drew Quinn at linebacker.
Meanwhile, I almost completely overlooked the eventual Ivy Rookie of the Year Alex Gross. Other freshmen who made an immediate impact in '07 were WR Nico Gutierrez, LB Matt Moretto, CB Calvin Otis, and TE Andrew Kennedy. Not surprisingly, Gross, Kennedy and Moretto are 3/4 of the captains coming into their senior seasons this fall.
The good news is I think the players, the fans, and everyone else reading this blog is mature enough to read what I'll call "predictive praise" for certain young players without feeling devastated that they or their favorite player isn't mentioned right off the bat. But compared to most of the other sites you see on the Internet, I'll continue to hold off criticizing or downgrading players at all times... let alone before they play a single game in college.