Tom McCarthy Elected 133rd Yale Football Captain

2010 captain Tom McCarthy and 2009 captain Paul Rice. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
2010 captain Tom McCarthy and 2009 captain Paul Rice. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

Introduced at Annual Team Banquet in Commons Sunday

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Senior defensive lineman Tom McCarthy (Chester, N.J./Delbarton) has been elected captain of the Yale football team for the 2010 season after a vote by team members. McCarthy, the 133rd captain in Yale's history, was introduced at the annual team banquet Sunday at Commons.

McCarthy, along with the rest of the team, learned the results of the election when Tom Williams, Yale's Joel E. Smilow '54 Head Coach of Football, announced his name at the conclusion of the banquet.

"It's a huge honor," said McCarthy. "I never really expected this. I'm still trying to wrap my head around it. [Having only] one captain means a lot, and being the 133rd captain in Yale history. To be elected, especially from this group of guys, is absolutely amazing. It is an honor."  

Williams drew comparisons between McCarthy and the outgoing captain, senior linebacker Paul Rice (Cleveland Heights, Ohio), in terms of their ability to lead by example.

 "Like Paul, Tom's a guy that walks it like he talks it," said Williams. "I think our guys obviously feel strongly about that as well. It's a great formula to have, and I think with one captain you end up getting the best guy."

Williams also noted that McCarthy can be a vocal leader when needed.

"He picks his spots, but when he speaks everybody listens, like the old EF Hutton commercial," said Williams. "He doesn't say much, but when he does talk everybody says ‘Whoa -- Tommy's speaking.' His style, to lead by example, will be the biggest part of his leadership. But I know that when he does choose to speak it will have a great effect on our football team."

McCarthy will draw upon the lessons he has learned from previous captains such as Rice in leading the Bulldogs on and off the field.

"I was talking to Paul, and he said the best advice he received from anybody else about being captain was be yourself -- your teammates elected you," McCarthy said. "I'm just going to keep working hard. That's one thing I pride myself on, being one of the hardest working kids on the team."

McCarthy's election is yet another sign of how far he has come since his freshman season, 2006, when he was sidelined for the year by illness. Because he missed that season, he is able to apply for a medical hardship waiver to return for next season.

At 6-foot-6 and 252 pounds, McCarthy has developed into an NFL prospect and a leader for a Yale defense that was second in the Ivy League in scoring defense (16.6 points per game) this year. In addition to being announced as captain, McCarthy also won Yale's Defensive Lineman of the Year Award at the banquet.

McCarthy's size and athleticism make for a rare combination. He also added to his versatility last summer by attending a camp and learning how to be a long snapper.

"He plays even stronger than what his [strength testing] numbers might be," said Williams, who came to Yale this past season after working as an assistant coach with the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars. "For a tall guy, he plays with good leverage. He keeps his pads down and doesn't get knocked off the ball. A lot of angular guys sometimes get blocked back, and he doesn't. He's got good lower body strength. He's getting stronger and I think he's still growing. As he gets more time in the weight room I think he's going to be a beast."

McCarthy was not heavily recruited by colleges while at Delbarton School, because until his sophomore year there football was not one of the many sports he played. He was talked into joining the football team by his older brother Kevin, who was already on the team. McCarthy won two conference championships at Delbarton, making the state finals in 2005. He also had a 1.90 ERA for the baseball team.

McCarthy followed his older brother in playing football for Yale. Kevin McCarthy, a 2008 Yale graduate, also played defensive line for the Bulldogs - and Yale Football runs even deeper than that in the McCarthy family. The boys' father, Kevin Sr., attends every game and takes photographs for the Yale Athletic Department. Their mother, Mary Ellen, assists.

"Everything I have is because of my family," McCarthy said. "My brother really laid the groundwork for me."

The McCarthys were part of an Ivy League championship for Yale in 2006. Tom then worked his way on to the depth chart as a sophomore in 2007. He appeared in nine games as a backup defensive tackle and helped the Bulldogs go 9-1. Yale led the nation in scoring defense that year, and did so again in 2008 with McCarthy taking over as a starter on the defensive line. He earned his third varsity letter this past season, and has now started 20 straight games.

McCarthy had 29 tackles this year, including six for loss and three sacks (tied for the team high). He also forced two fumbles, recovered one fumble, broke up two passes and blocked a field goal attempt. The blocked field goal came at Lehigh in week five and helped the Bulldogs become the first team to shut out the Mountain Hawks since 1986.

McCarthy had 29 tackles in 2008, including eight for loss and four sacks. He also grabbed his first career interception in the 34-7 win at Dartmouth.

As the second captain under Williams, McCarthy understands that expectations will be high heading into 2010.

"The new staff is great," McCarthy said. "They bring a lot of energy and a lot of enthusiasm ... It's inevitable to have some growing pains. Hopefully we got all the growing pains out of the way, and in spring ball we'll continue to [progress]."

McCarthy is the fifth defensive lineman to be named captain in the 13 years that assistant coach Duane Brooks has coached that group, and he gave due credit to his mentor.

"I didn't play at all freshman year," McCarthy said. "I had lost about 20-25 pounds. Some people thought I wasn't going to be able to recover. But Coach Brooks kept faith in me."

An economics major and member of Branford College, McCarthy is the ninth Yale football captain from New Jersey. He leads Yale into its 138th season of football. The 2010 season opener is set for Sept. 18 vs. Georgetown at the Yale Bowl, Class of 1954 Field.


Yale Football Captains from New Jersey   
1889  Charles O. Gill Orange, N.J./Orange 
1911 Arthur Howe   South Orange, N.J./Hotchkiss
1924 Winslow M. Lovejoy Montclair, N.J./Exeter
1946  Richard M. Hollingshead III  River, N.J./Lawrenceville 
1953  Joe Fortunato  Montclair, N.J./Montclair 
1977  Bob Rizzo         Livingston, N.J./Livingston 
1978 Bill Crowley Short Hills, N.J./Millburn
1996  Rob Masella  W. Caldwell, N.J./James Caldwell 
2010  Tom McCarthy  Chester, N.J./Delbarton 


Report by Sam Rubin '95 (, Yale Sports Publicity