Front Three Thoughts
Check out this great piece today on the U.S. Marine Corps veterans graduating from Columbia this week.
It contains this very key line as we continue to fight for a halftime ceremony honoring our veteran students:
“More veterans attend Columbia than any other Ivy League college with over 300 enrolled in the 2010 – 2011 school year.”
In other words, Columbia is the place where more veterans have the opportunity to pursue an Ivy education than any other. Columbia deserves a lot of credit for that.
And so, the halftime ceremony we all want will be a tribute not just to the veterans but also to Alma Mater for being so welcoming to them.
And yes, the ceremony would remind people of this bigger picture as opposed to the ugly shouts of a concentrated few.
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If you or a loved one is a member of the incoming class of 2015, you may want to check this item out:
Ben Popeck (CREDIT: Columbia Athletics)
Best Three Feet Forward
If the reports are true and Columbia does employ a 3-4 defense this fall, who would be your starting three?
In my book, the most talented Lion defensive linemen on the roster are Owen Fraser, (if healthy), Joshua Martin and Chris Groth.
Seyi Adebayo and Ben Popeck are just a bit behind them… with Popeck having what I would call an unsung breakthrough season last year with 42 tackles and two fumble recoveries.
The speedy Will Patterson is officially a defensive end, but he plays more like a pass-rushing linebacker. I wonder if his official roster designation will ever change.
And the big wildcard in incoming transfer Wells Childress from Texas A&M.
If all seven of these players come back healthy and stay healthy, there’s a really good chance Columbia will have a strong defensive line after suffering last season without the injured Fraser and the graduated Lou Miller '10.
But even if new defensive coordinator Chris Woods doesn’t shuffle the defensive line as often as his predecessor Denauld Brown did, the Lions will probably also need good contributions from junior Shad Sommers, sophomore Nick Melka and the others.
But getting back to my top three, I have to believe that even if Fraser remains seriously injury-free, Popeck will still be a de facto starter and much of the Lions efforts to stop the run in 2011 rest on his shoulders.
Martin had a slightly more noticed breakthrough year in 2010, and he showed tremendous skills as a relentless pass rusher. Few Columbia fans will forget his performance in week two against Towson where he seemed to be living in the Tigers’ backfield.
Adebayo’s coronation as the most improved defensive player in spring practice is a tantalizing prospect given his obvious physical abilities. But he too seems to primarily be a pass rusher, and that just adds to the responsibilities for Popeck and Fraser against the run.
Of course, the linebacking corps will have something to say about that as well, and I’ll the names of my top four returning linebackers tomorrow.