Okay, this is not the Lions of 2005... but it was a small squad!
It may be just an intrasquad game, but I know I'm excited to finally get back to watching football at Wien Stadium just three days from now.
The Rack and Soul Spring Game kicks off at 7pm.
Moving the contest under the lights and getting the Rack and Soul sponsorship are both great developments that I hope will help make the game an annual party-like event for the fans.
I'm also excited because I'm willing to bet that a record number of incoming freshmen football players and their families will be in attendance for the game. (So let's make sure to all be on our best behavior).
The forecast is still holding steady. We're expecting clear skies and temps in the low 50s or high 40s at game time. During the day, it will be much warmer with temps in the 60s.
Sophomores usually make up the largest contingent of any class on an Ivy varsity football squad. But this year's sophomore group is larger than I can ever remember.
An eye-popping total of 35 sophs jam the Lion roster right now. Assuming Columbia takes in the usual number of 30-32 freshmen this year, we will have probably the first sophomore class that's bigger than the freshmen class ever in Lion history.
By comparison, the junior class is 30 men strong. The seniors number 27.
And not all those sophs are inexperienced at the varsity level.
They include the young man who finished 2009 atop the Columbia depth chart for QB's, Sean Brackett. And Brackett was more than just a little impressive in his four starts as a freshman last year. Brackett enters 2010 as the second most experienced rising sophomore QB in the Ivies since freshman football was abolished in the Ivies in 1993. Only Dartmouth's Josh Cohen in 2005 started more games as a frosh than Brackett did last year. And Cohen only won one of his starts, while Brackett won two.
With Brackett as the only sophomore class QB in the fold, he obviously will carry the flag at that position for his class. And we'll see a lot of Brackett Friday night.
Defenders Seyi Adebayo and Will Patterson return with great real-game playing time under their belts.
Kickers Greg Guttas, Michael Williamson, and Dean Perfetti are certainly battle-tested.
Other than that, the sophs are a big X factor. Friday night should clear up some of the questions we have about this super-sized class.
Of those 35, seven are defensive linemen, and there are six DB's and WR's each. Playing the mathematical odds, you'd have to say the sophomores at those positions have the best chance of breaking into the lineup.
But the speedy Nick Gerst at RB is going to be squarely in the fans' focus, as he has his many...well, fans. Gerst will have to start proving he can compete at the college level despite his smaller size.
I don't know if any of this year's sophomore offensive linemen are a potential Jeff Adams for 2010. Remember, Adams was a First Team All Ivy left tackle as a soph in 2009. Someone from this class will need to emerge either this year or next year on the offensive line.
But for long-time Lion fans, this year's spring game will represent what seems like an embarrassment of riches. The numbers are astounding: 92 returning veterans on a squad that had just 76 total players five years ago. 57 of those 92 are juniors and seniors, another impressive number for a team that has often seen massive defections between sophomore and junior year.
Numbers alone won't make Columbia a winner in 2010...but they will sure help.
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