Spring Football Practice Begins Friday

Spring Football Practice Begins Friday

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March 29, 2007

Spring football begins tomorrow afternoon at 4:00 on the practice fields behind the baseball stadium and ends with a 2 p.m. Blue-White Game at Yale Bowl on April 28. Here is the season outlook for the 2007 Bulldogs. For a full 2007 Yale Football Spring Prospectus, click on the above PDF.

As reigning Ivy League co-champions, you can see the bullseye on the back of each member of the 2007 Yale football team in a league where parity continues to rise. And while the Bulldogs have lost several key players to graduation, 40 letterwinners and 17 starters return this fall to lead the quest for a repeat. Offensively, three-fifths of an outstanding offensive line return, as does superstar tailback Mike McLeod and senior QB Matt Polhemus. Polhemus will be throwing to some new faces this fall, as the top three receivers from a year ago have all graduated. The defense has the potential to define this team and dominate the league, as nine starters (and six All-Ivy players from 2006) return, including team captain MG Brandt Hollander. The defensive unit is also bolstered by the return of 2005 starters Nick Solakian and Lee Driftmier, both of whom missed the 2006 campaign due to injury. The Elis' special teams were outstanding last fall, and the return of both specialists - PK Alan Kimball and P Tom Mante - should signal continued proficiency in 2007.


Offensive Line (3 starters returning, 2 starters lost)

There is a large gap to fill on the strong side with the graduation of All-American tackle Ed McCarthy and Brett Crandall, a long-time starter at guard. Yale also graduated Jay Leybourn, a part-time starter. First-team All-Ivy senior right guard Jeff Monaco, who started at three different positions during the championship season, heads a list of talented returnees. Senior center Nick Wachtler, an honorable mention all-league pick, has 20 straight starts. Classmate Tom Woznicki made four starts at guard in 2006 and could win a top job this fall. Junior Darius Dale was Yale's top quick tackle last season but was limited to four starts by injury. Junior Ty Davis also earned a varsity letter last year and will battle for a starting job.

Seniors Stephen Morse, who moved from fullback, and Louis Gresham, out last year with an injury, will compete for starting jobs. Juniors Peter Boisi, Mike Cautero and Landon Hairgrove and sophomores Jon Charest, Cody Jacoby, Ben Meyer and Cory Palmer are also in the mix.

Running Back (1 starter returning, 1 starter lost)

Junior first-team All-Ivy tailback Mike McLeod (1,364 yards, 20 TDs), who had eight 100-yard outings and was the team's 2006 MVP, is the premier runner in the Ancient Eight. The only other players to attempt a rush in 2006, other than QB Matt Polhemus, have graduated. Other candidates at the tailback spot include sophomores Ricardo Galvez, Carl Johnson, Rodney Reynolds and Brandon Scott.

Joe Fuccillo, the backup fullback last fall, returns for his senior season. Joining him are senior David Silberstein, junior Eric Vidal and sophomore Jack Wallace.

Receiver (0 starters returning, 2 starters lost)

The top three wide receivers from the title team have graduated, but a pair of juniors saw some action last year while a veteran returns from a year off. Third-year wideout Jarrett Drake (3-17) saw his first varsity play last fall. Senior Chris Denny-Brown, who was not in school last fall, had 32 catches for 366 yards and a TD in 2005 while serving as the top punt return man. Senior Chris Solga, juniors Grant MacQueen and Ken Ebeling and sophomores Jordan Farrell and Reid Lathan will compete for jobs this spring. In addition, juniors Patrick Sedden and Sam Matias look for their first varsity letters.

Tight End (1 starter returning, 1 starter lost)

Senior second-team All-Ivy pick Langston Johnson (4-58) shared the starting role last fall as one of the blockers who helped pave the way for Yale's 2006 rushing success. Sophomore A.J. Haase, who played primarily on special teams, was the only other Yale end to earn a varsity letter last year.

Seniors Matt Stegich, Jordan Stevens and Mike Duval, junior Adam Sato, who moved over from the defense, and sophomore John Sheffield are all in the mix as well.

Quarterback (1 starter returning, 0 starters lost)

Senior Matt Polhemus took every snap in 2006 as one of the best athletes Yale has had behind center in recent years. His threat as a runner was evident (5.7 per rush) with 424 yards last fall. While his passing numbers were not gaudy last year (109-208-6, 5 TD, 1,437 yds), he showed a knack for making the big pass at the crucial moments. Junior Ryan Fodor competed with Polhemus for the starting job in the 2006 pre-season and was a close second. Junior Joe Dennison and sophomores Richie Scudellari and Matthew Kelleher continue to learn the offense and provide depth.


End (1 starter returning, 1 starter lost)

Junior Kyle Hawari (15-8-23, 3 sacks, 1 int), honorable mention All-Ivy in 2006, could be among the elite pass rushers in the league. Classmate Brady Hart (6-10-16, 1 int) earned his first varsity letter last fall and had two starts. The defensive ends have consistently been a strong point in recent years.

Other ends who could make an impact include juniors Jay Richmond, Matt Plummer and Jarren Simmons and sophomores Tim Handlon (moved from secondary), Justin Oplinger and Max Newton.

Line (3 starters returning, 0 starters lost)

Senior captain Brandt Hollander (17-7-24) led the Blue with four sacks last fall and earned first-team All-Ivy and All-New England honors. Classmates Kirk Porter (18-11-29) and Jared Hamilton (22-14-36, 2 sacks) are other returning starters who help make the Yale defensive front one of the league's most formidable. Senior Stephen Schmalhofer (8-6-14, 2 sacks) helps make this unit Yale's deepest and most skilled. Juniors Joe Hathaway (7-4-11, 1 sack) and Bryan Kana (7-7-14, 2 TFL) also played regularly last season.

Five other Bulldogs will vie for positions on the line: senior Kevin McCarthy, juniors Uthman Arogundade and Shane Jones and sophomores Tom McCarthy and Matthew Smock.

Linebacker (1 starter returning, 1 starter lost)

Junior Bobby Abare (46-30-76) was a 2006 first-team all-league selection who led the Blue in tackles and interceptions (4), including three in a win at Brown. Senior Lee Driftmier, who sat out last fall with an injury, was a 2005 honorable mention All-Ivy pick after leading the Bulldogs with five interceptions and 54 solo tackles. Juniors Jay Pilkerton (1-3-4) and Jason Palumbo (0-2-2) are ready for an increased role if needed.

Senior David Thomas, junior Shebby Swett and sophomore Austin Pulsipher are the other linebacker candidates.

Secondary (4 starters returning, 0 starters lost)

Every member of last year's secondary returns and the Elis also have a starter from 2005 who returns from injury. Junior strong safety Larry Abare (46-29-75), a second-team All-Ivy pick, was second in tackles. Classmate and free safety Steven Santoro (35-9-44), an honorable mention All-Ivy selection, tied for the team lead with four interceptions and ran his first kickoff back for a score. Junior corner Casey Gerald (25-11-36) had five pass breakups and a fumble recovery. Sophomore corner Paul Rice (26-9-35) led the team with five pass breakups and had one pick. Senior Nick Solakian sat out last fall with an injury after leading the Blue with five picks in 2005. Senior brothers Matt (11-6-17) and John Coombs (1-1-2), who are out with injuries this spring, bring experience back to this unit.

Seniors Matthew Jacques, Andrew Liyana and Dan Sica, juniors Rylan Spence and Brian Stephenson and sophomores Travis Henry, Isaiah DeLeon-Mares, Eric Senn, Wells Stewart and Grant Todd make this one of the deepest areas on the squad.

Kicking (2 starters returning, 0 starters lost)

Senior Alan Kimball (12-19 FG, 29-31 PAT), a second-team All-Ivy pick last fall, led the league with 12 field goals. Sophomore punter Tom Mante (35.5 avg.) started every game and put 13 boots inside opponents' 20-yard lines.

Juniors Josh Helmrich and Chris Yergan and sophomore Ben Siegl provide support in this area of special teams.


March 30 (4-6 pm), 31 (2-4)

April 6 (4-6), 7 (2-4), 13 (4-6), 14 (2-4), 15 (2-4), 20 (4-6), 21 (2-4), 22 (2-4), 27 (4-6)

Spring Game: April 28 (2-4 p.m.) Yale Bowl


Date Opponent

9/15 at Georgetown


9/29 at Holy Cross


10/13 LEHIGH

10/20 at Penn

10/27 at Columbia

11/3 BROWN

11/10 at Princeton