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.