Positional Battles

With pre-season camp almost here, it’s time to start previewing the 2018 squad.  What do you think will be the most competitive positional battle for a starting role?

We can assume the positions of kicker (Galland), punter (Galland), long snapper (Simino), quarterback (Rawlings), center (Strother), one guard position (Eiselen), and one defensive end position (Mullen) are locked down barring an unfortunate injury.  That leaves us with a number of possibilities and combinations all over the field.

Despite being a pre-season All-American selection, Dudek will still have to battle Lamar for the starting running back position.  For those new Yale parents unfamiliar with Lamar, he was one of the lone bright spots during the 2016 campaign and single-handedly carried the team in some games.

Shohfi will likely be the number one wide receiver, but a number of players such as Klubnik, Rouse, Carrington, Marcinick, Locke, Herring and White will be vying for serious playing time.  If a freshman comes into camp and dominates, he could start as well.

Lager and Roman should be the front-runners for the tight end job.  Lager is the seasoned veteran and a balanced player with blocking and catching skills, while Roman presents mismatches for almost any secondary.

The offensive line will be one of the bigger question marks heading into camp.  Strother and Eiselen are the incumbents and are versatile enough to play multiple positions along the line when necessary.  Warfield, Lee, Sexton and Neagli have all been discussed as options at tackle.  Cepalia, Tribble, Hinish and several others could lock down an interior line spot.  Yale needs to develop cohesion in this unit, so the best combination of players that can work together will start against Holy Cross not necessarily the players with the most raw talent.

On the opposite side of Mullen, we will most likely see Callender or Roman.  Kissel and Sampleton gained valuable experience at end last season and Yale lists Matthaei as an end on the roster as well.  Matthaei started six games at defensive tackle last year, so naturally we’d expect him to start there opposite Nicholas Crowle.  Keeler, Fraser, Chime, James and others all have an opportunity to compete for a spot.

The fate of our defense will rest on the caliber of the linebacking corps and defensive backfield that we can put together.  Awodiran made tremendous strides at linebacker during his freshman year, while Burke, Herbert and Balter all return with starting experience at the position as well.  Dean and Carey were solid in their first year and we heard great things about Hill prior to his injury.  Talented freshmen are entering the mix and we wouldn’t be surprised to see a player like Noah Pope see action at outside linebacker.

Yale has depth and experience returning at cornerback with Peggs, Dixon, Alburg and Henson.  Safety is another story with no starting experience and very little depth, yet Reno seemed pleased with the play of Thomas and Agbeyegbe in the spring.  To survive the aerial onslaught of Princeton, we will need at least one corner to establish himself as a lockdown player who can play on an island and we will need the safeties to be great tacklers.  Carlsen and Alessi were not elite players in pass coverage, but they saved games with key stops.


Early Commits

Ben Montgomery- Safety, 6’0″, 195 lbs., Taylor (Katy, TX)

Gerron Duhon- Cornerback, 5’10”, 170 lbs., Washington-Marlon (Lake Charles, LA)

John Harrington- Athlete, 6’1″, 165 lbs., Seven Lakes (Katy, TX)

Nolan Grooms- Quarterback, 6’2″, 180 lbs., The Taft School (Watertown, CT)

Jermaine Baker- Safety, 6’2″, 200 lbs, Nazareth Academy (La Grange Park, IL)

Ron Carr- Tackle, 6’5″, 240 lbs., Solon (Solon, OH)

Hamilton Moore- Linebacker, 6’1″, 200 lbs., William G. Enloe (Raleigh, NC)

Ryan McCann- Tackle, 6′ 5”, 260 lbs., Rumson-Fair Haven (Rumson, NJ)

Michael Connor- Linebacker , 6′0″, 220 lbs., Ramapo (Franklin Lakes, NJ)

Jack Bosman- Kicker/Punter, 5’9″, 162 lbs., Santa Fe Christian (San Diego, CA)

Wande Owens- Running Back, 5’11”, 185 lbs., Glenelg (Glenelg, MD)

Archie B. Russ, III- Wide Receiver/ Cornerback , 6’1″, 180 lbs., Landon School (Bethesda, MD)

Brandon Babcock- Tackle, 6’6″, 275 lbs., Casteel (Queen Creek, AZ)

Jonathon Durand- Guard, 6’3″, 250 lbs., Basha (Chandler, AZ)

Tyler DiIenno- Safety, 6’1″, 205 lbs., Cheshire Academy/Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey, NJ)

Brayden Carey- Wide Receiver, 6’0″, 180 lbs., East Coweta (Sharpsburg, GA)


Galland Named Top Punter

Alex Galland was named as the top punter at Chris Sailer’s College Camp in California.  Sailer is regarded as one of the top kicking and punting coaches in the nation and is often seen as the gatekeeper to Division 1 football for specialists.  This is a huge honor for Galland and NFL teams will surely take notice.  He’s no slouch as a kicker either!

Nick Tibbetts

Nick Tibbetts is a 6’2″, 230 lb. long snapper from Montville High School in Montville, Connecticut.  Tibbetts is ranked as a top 15 long snapper in the nation, the highest positional ranking of any incoming recruit.  He is a fantastic athlete who played on offense, defense and special teams in high school.  Tibbetts releases quickly from the line after the snap and looks like a linebacker as he pursues punt returners.  He will become a staple on the special teams units over the course of his Yale career.

Conor Smith

Conor Smith is a 6’5″, 260 lb. offensive lineman from Red Bank Catholic High School in Red Bank, New Jersey.  Smith is another bruiser from Jersey that loves to pancake defenders.  He shows great footwork and hand placement in pass protection.  Smith uses his size and speed to maul defenders in the run game.  He has the potential to develop into a solid starting tackle or guard at the collegiate level.

Cubby Schuller

Cubby Schuller is a 6’6″, 270 lb. offensive lineman from Bernards High School in Bedminster, New Jersey.  Schuller has quick feet to seal defenders from the edge and shows the necessary speed to block linebackers and defensive backs downfield.  Defenders stand little chance of recovering once Schuller gets under their pads, locks them out with his long arms and drives his legs.  Yale has always had great luck recruiting linemen (both defensive and offensive) from New Jersey and Schuller appears to be another fine prospect.

Jaylan Sandifer

Jaylan Sandifer is a 6’4″, 195 lb. receiver from Northside High School in Centerville, Georgia.  He was a commit in last year’s class and spent a season with Noah Pope at Choate.  Sandifer is a big, athletic receiver with great hands and moves.  He’s not afraid to run crossing routes over the middle and is surprisingly hard for defenders to bring down.  He’s fast enough to take wide receiver screens and reverses to the house.  When running plays go to his side, he is a determined blocker who will run downfield to disrupt multiple defenders.

Garry Raymond

Garry Raymond is a 6’6″, 230 lb. tight end from Cheyenne Mountain High School in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  Raymond is a big target who can flex out wide to create mismatches for any secondary.  He is nimble after the catch and uses his long arms to stiff arm would-be tacklers.  Raymond shows good footwork when run blocking as he effectively seals the edge on outside running plays and keeps his legs driving through the whistle.  He is adept at gaining significant yardage from screen passes and reverses.

Adam Raine

Adam Raine is a 6’4″, 268 lb. defensive lineman from Berkshire School in Sheffield, Massachusetts.  Raine fires off the line very quickly and can often shoot the gaps before offensive linemen have had a chance to get a hand on him.  He combines his strong bull rush with a swift swim move to defeat blocks.  Raine can play defensive tackle or end, but we project him as a defensive tackle for the Bulldogs given his size.  He is a high effort player who has no issues running down ball carriers across the field.

Noah Pope

Noah Pope is a 6’1″, 205 lb. linebacker from St. Georges Independent School in Memphis, Tennessee.  Pope spent the last season at Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford and was originally a commit in last year’s class.  He is exceptional in pass coverage and reminds us a bit of Foye Oluokun.  Pope utilizes his hands effectively to shed blockers before exploding through ball carriers.  It’s hard to find any weaknesses in his play as he can rush the passer, defend receivers and stop the run.