Spring Ball Begins, Here's What You Might See
NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- Footballs zoomed all over the field, coaches blew whistles and student-athletes lined up to run plays wearing shorts, practice jerseys and helmets. The first day of Yale spring football practice began at 7 a.m. today on the fields behind the baseball stadium and ended with some stretching at 9. If you go out to watch one of the 11 practices or the April 24 Blue-White Game, here’s what you need to know by position.
Team captain Tom McCarthy (21-8-29), who had three sacks last fall as a second-team All-Ivy pick, leads a talented group of experienced players. McCarthy is taking advantage of a medical hardship to play this fall, so he is unable to take part in spring practice. Senior Joe Young (13-11-24) was honorable mention all-league in 2009 and had a pair of sacks. Classmates Pat Moran (19-5-24), who had two sacks, and Matt Phelan (1-5-6) were regulars last year as well. Seasoned juniors Jake Stoller (5-5-10), Reed Spiller (5-8-13) and Carter Deutsch also will battle for playing time while Austin Pulsipher moves up from the defensive backfield. Sophomores Nick Daffin, Chris Dooley and Charles Holmes are also in the mix.
Senior Sean Williams (17-3-20) was a 2009 honorable mention All-Ivy pick. Another fourth-year player, Dan Walsh (11-10-21), made an impact last year and is one of the team’s hardest hitters. Senior John Pagliaro (1-1-2) moves up from defensive back this spring. Classmates Jesse Reising, Eric Gresham, Matt Messer and Pat Ruwe add veteran depth to this area. Junior Jordan Haynes (13-15-28) is the top returning tackler. Other juniors, Ben Ashcraft, Matt Battaglia, Cliff Foreman, Wes Moyer and Nick Schneider will compete for time. Sophomores Allen Davis, Dylan Drake, Brian Leffler, Will McHale and Jordan Buxton-Punch look to make an impact as well.
Senior Adam Money (27-16-43), who was around the ball more than any other Yale defensive player last year, had three interceptions and three forced fumbles as a first-team All-Ivy League selection. Classmate Marcus Wallace (16-9-25) got regular duty after recovering from an injury while fellow senior Chris Stanley (3-2-5) saw regular duty as a backup and on special teams last fall. Junior first-year starters Geoff Dunham (40-14-54) and Drew Baldwin (31-8-39) add experienced depth to this unit. Juniors Josh Grizzard, Dawson Halliday, Sudiptho Paul and Austin Pulsipher are back to challenge for varsity time. Sophomore John Powers (3-1-4) was a hit on special teams in 2009 and could win a backfield spot, and so could second-year players Kurt Stottlemyer (1-0-1), Collin Bibb, Scott Williams, Ryan Falbo and Russell Perkins.
Eight Elis who were in the varsity mix last fall, including six starters, are back in the fold for 2010. Jake Koury (6-2, 270) was Yale’s top center and started all but two games. Three seniors were starters last fall at multiple positions. Nathan Burow (6-5, 300) started nine of 10 games at three different spots. Alex Golubiewski (6-6, 275) had five starts while John Pedersen (6-7, 280) had four. In his first year at Yale last fall, junior Gabriel Fernandez (6-0, 273), who played guard and center, immediately worked his way onto the field and started the last six games. Classmate Mike McInerny (6-4, 280) had a pair of starts while fellow juniors Evan Ellis (6-2, 285), Nate Blair (6-4, 280), Jeff Fell (6-5, 286) and Colin Kruger (6-3, 300) look to make an impact this fall. Sophomore Jeff Marrs (6-3, 290) was in the starting lineup twice in 2009 and adds experience to the unit. Other second-year players, Luke Hartwig (6-7, 310) and Justin Hymes (6-5, 285), could also work their way into the lineup.
Senior Jordan Forney (30-320, 3 TD) is the returning leader in every receiving category. Another senior, Gio Christodoulou (5-35), who missed all but two games with an injury last fall, has been one of the most exciting players on the field. Sophomore Chris Smith (18-233, 1) had a 78-yard scoring play against Dartmouth but missed most of the last half of the season with an injury. Another second-year receiver, Allen Harris (7-93), got experience as a rookie, while classmate John Runk looks for a varsity spot.
No returning Yale tight end caught a pass last fall. Caleb Smith had nine starts and fellow senior Chris Blohm also played varsity last year. Junior Alex Birks and sophomores Roy Collins, Jordan Jefferson and Mark Kaczor all played junior varsity in 2009.
Senior Shane Bannon was Yale’s top fullback last fall and was used for blocking and catching passes. Versatile junior TB Alex Thomas (72-286, 2 TD) averaged four yards per carry while catching 14 passes and getting a pair of starts. Junior Andrew Pappas moved from TE to FB this winter. Sophomore TB Mordecai Cargill (73-236, 3.3), who also had four catches including a 41-yard scoring play, got valuable rookie playing time. Other sophomores, FB Jordan Capellino and TB Javi Sosa, are in the mix for 2010.
The Blue has two experienced signal-callers returning who shared the top job in 2009. Senior Brook Hart had four of the 10 starts and led the Yale passers with a 57.3 completion percentage. Hart, who has nine career starts and 1,634 yards, threw four TD passes and had 750 yards last fall. Junior Patrick Witt started six games last year in his first Yale season and led the Blue with eight TDs and 1,449 yards. He had a 57.3 completion percentage. Sophomores Dez Duron and Derek Russell played JV in 2009.
Senior Alex Barnes split the uprights on four of his six field goal attempts (2 of 4 on PAT) in his first varsity action at Yale last fall. Tom Mante ’10, who may have had the best leg in the history of the sport at Yale, handled most of the placekicking and punting duties last year. Barnes and sophomore Philippe Panico will compete for both spots.
Two seniors and a sophomore have experience and break-out potential. Senior WR Gio Christodoulou, who had a 23.7 average on kickoffs in two games before a season-ending injury, has two collegiate punt returns for TD and led the Blue in 2008 with a 9.9 average. Classmate DB Adam Money averaged 22.9 on kickoffs and 8.1 on punts after starters went down with injuries last fall. Sophomore WR Chris Smith had a 23.7 mark on three KOR in 2009.
outlook filed by Steve Conn, Yale Sports Publicity Director
Tom McCarthy image by Ron Waite