Does Columbia have the horses at defensive tackle to really stop the run effectively next season?
There are some players a lot of Lions fans may not be aware of who offer real hope in this category.
Leading this crew is rising senior Ben Popeck. Despite being a senior, Popeck may still be flying under the radar for some of us but he had some good games last year and finished as the team’s fourth leading tackler. I wouldn’t call 2010 exactly a breakout year for Popeck, but it was close. He has an excellent chance to make an impact no one will fail to notice in 2011.
Fellow senior Chris Groth has all the tools to make the same kind of impact he made in 2009. Last season, Groth dropped off a bit but I don’t think he was 100% healthy. At 291 lbs., he can be a force.
Speaking of health, there are few players in the last few years who have had as much attention on their health as Owen Fraser. The rising senior obviously was too banged up last season to return to his 2008 form. I’m not a doctor and I don’t have Fraser’s x-rays in front of me, but it’s obvious that he needs to recover more and no one can really bank on that.
Luckily, there are some underclassmen who show a lot of promise as well.
Rising junior Shad Sommers got a lot of work as a sophomore in 2010. He played in seven games and two of his seven tackles were for a loss. At 275 lbs., he fits the profile and will fit it even more if he puts on a bit more muscle in the offseason.
I am also very impressed with rising sophomore Joe Raimondi. He cracked the two-deep early in his freshman season, and got into four games. Raimondi is 6-4 and 270 lbs. with a wrestling background to boot. He could be a force for the next three years.
After that, the cupboard seems a bit bare, but you never know who will emerge from out of the light blue.