Friday, April 22, 2011

The Forgotten Captain

The storied 1996 Columbia Football team had four captains.

Most die-hard fans remember three of them very well. They were the late Randy Murff, the great Marcellus Wiley, and the amazing Rory Wilfork.

But the fourth captain was a quiet senior tight end from Connecticut named Ryan Gabriele.

At 6-1, the 245-pound Gabriele was not really tall enough to be a serious receiving threat at tight end. In fact, he caught fewer than 5 passes that entire season.

But Gabriele was a very strong wrestler and thus, a super-effective blocker and a cog for Columbia’s “wear ‘em out” running attack that season.

Gabriele kept opening holes on the outside despite a knee and an ankle that needed surgeries earlier in his career.

He ended his career with a TD catch in his final game, a 31-27 thrilling win over Brown at Wien Stadium.

I mention Gabriele because we enter tomorrow night’s Spring Game with a yawning need for a new tight end to fill the void left by the graduation of Andrew Kennedy and the fact that promising freshman Chris Mooney has left the team.

I’m not sure how much playing time we’ll see from the three remaining tight ends on the roster. They are Hamilton Garner, Rafael Lopez and Zack McKown. It’s interesting that in an era of ever-heavier players, none of them is as big as Gabriele’s 245 pounds in 1996.

But Garner is a nice 6-foot-5 and if he can get his currently listed 225 pounds up to something like 240 with good speed he could be a force.

Lopez also might make some noise in what will be his senior season.

Often, when a team is dealing with a non-receiving weapon at TE, it uses an H-Back set to keep defenses honest. I know that’s been an option Columbia has considered in the past and there are some good candidates for that position if that’s the way the Lions go. Andrew McHugh and Griffin Lowry come to mind.

If you’re coming to the Spring Game tomorrow night, I’m sure many of you will focus on the tight ends.

I’d love to “discover” a new standout, but we should all be fine if we end up with someone like the quiet, hard-to-notice Ryan Gabriele.


At Fri Apr 22, 10:39:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Her's an idea .... take one of the D-lineman and make him a TE .... one possibility who fits your wish for 245 lb TE would be Nick Melka .... he's listed at 6'2" and 240 lbs .... AND ... he played TE in high school ...

At Fri Apr 22, 06:48:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about our friend transfering from Texas as a TE?

At Fri Apr 22, 07:04:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Having attended numerous Coliumbia Spring Games, I know how difficult it is for even the most knowledgable fans to tell what's going on without roster sheets, play-by-play, etc. It would be a great help if someone distributed "Blue" and "White" rosters before tonight's game and perhaps someone else did a play-by-play for the folks in the stands. Sure hope that happens tonight.

At Fri Apr 22, 07:57:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rosters have been distributed every year over the last 20 or 25. You just have to find who is handing them out.

At Fri Apr 22, 09:27:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have heard from a few of the guys that Lopez has worked very hard; he has good size and should be able to make a contribution. Why did Mooney leave the team? And when will we see "the list"? Norries has been very close mouthed about recruiting this year. Loose lips sink ships?


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