Jan. 24, 2004
New Haven, CT - The annual Yale football awards banquet included a new honor this year, as tight end Nate Lawrie was chosen for the Jim Keppel Award. Named in honor of the former Yale fullback who passed away unexpectedly due to a heart problem last summer, the award's inscription was written by Keppel's teammates and reads as follows:
Given to the offensive back who best exhibited Jim's work ethic, pride and dedication to Yale Football, as well as his ability to enrich the lives of his friends and teammates
Keppel, a Pennsylvania native, was a key part of Yale's 1999 Ivy League title season as a sophomore. He was named First-team All-Ivy, breaking the school record for receptions by a running back (32), including nine in a crucial win over Penn.
"He came from a great high school program," head coach Jack Siedlecki noted. "He was used to winning. He came here in blind faith in us, because we were 1-9 the year he was being recruited ... He was one of the guys that started this football program in the right direction."
Members of Keppel's family, along with many of his former teammates, were on hand for the ceremony. His father Steve, mother Brenda, and brother Matthew presented the award to Lawrie along with running backs coach Larry Ciotti.
"It's a great honor," said Lawrie, who played with Keppel for two years at Yale. "He was an amazing guy -- a guy I would call my friend. He always had a smile on his face, and was a guy you liked being around."
"Jim would get a kick out of this," Steve Keppel added. "He was never big on individual awards, but he would like being part of the Yale football tradition ... When he was being recruited, the coaches talked about being part of the Yale football family. We've felt like we were a part of it before, and now we really feel it."
Lawrie, an NFL prospect, set the Yale record for receptions by a tight end (72) this past season. He is second on the school's career receptions list (116) and was named to the American Football Coaches Association I-AA All America Team.
The complete list of award winners:
Ted Blair Award
Given to the most valuable player on the varsity team in memory of Edwin Foster (Ted) Blair '24.
QB Alvin Cowan '04
Jordan Olivar Award
Given to that senior, other than the captain, who, through his devotion to Yale football, has earned the highest respect of his teammates.
OL Will Conroy '04
Woody Knapp Memorial Trophy
Given to that outstanding member of the football team who best typifies the cheerful disposition, leadership qualities, and unselfish devotion to others which characterized Woody's life and accomplishments at Yale.
OL Jake Kohl '04
Robert Gardner Anderson Award
Given to the player who best exemplifies Bob's interest in the sport by combination of skill, spirit and pride in accomplishment.
LB Kenneth Estrera '04
Norman S. Hall Memorial Trophy
Given to an individual for outstanding service to Yale football, in memory of Norman Hall '30.
WR Ron Benigno '04
Gregory Dubinetz Memorial Trophy
Given to the lineman who best exemplifies the spirit of Greg Dubinetz as a player and person.
TE Derek Caracciola '04
Charles Loftus Award
Given to the most valuable freshman.
OL Ed McCarthy '07
Chester J. LaRoche Award
Given to that senior who, by his character, academic talents and concern for others, did the most for Yale.
DB Steve Ehikian '04
Ledyard Mitchell Award
Awarded for proficiency in kicking.
K John Troost '05
Offensive Back of the Year (Jim Keppel Award)
TE Nate Lawrie '04
Defensive Back of the Year
LB Ben Breunig '05
Offensive Lineman of the Year
(Ted Turner Award)
OL Rory Hennessey '05
Defensive Lineman of the Year
DL Bryant Dieffenbacher '04
Hammer of the Year
FB Alex Faherty '05
Specialist of the Year DB Jonas Rodriguez '04
report by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity Department