Yale Football News Written By Former Bulldogs

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Ivy Updates

Rodney Thomas was selected in the 7th Round of the 2022 NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts making him the first Yale selection since 2018. Thomas is officially listed as a cornerback for the Colts and will have to compete with a deep stable of cornerbacks including Pro Bowler Kenny Moore II and Stephon Gilmore, the 2019 NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Given Thomas’ speed and explosiveness, we see him as a key special teams contributor early in his career.

Foye Oluokun signed a $46.5 million contract with $28 million guaranteed in March with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Jaeden Graham is currently a free agent after sustaining an injury in 2021 that forced the Falcons to place him on injured reserve.

Men’s Lacrosse fell to Penn 9-16 in the Ivy League Championship Tournament on Sunday. Yale’s hopes for a national championship are still alive with the NCAA Tournament kicking off this week. Yale hosts St. Joseph’s this Saturday at 5 PM (ESPNU broadcast).

Senior Trenton Charles set Yale’s 100m dash record on Saturday with a time of 10.45 seconds at the Ivy League Championships.

Spring Game

We caught our first glimpse of Team 149 yesterday at the Bowl on a perfect Saturday for football.

Overall, the defense seemed to be slightly ahead of the offense which is to be expected this time of year. The defensive line was the most impressive unit even without Oso and Nickerson participating. The defensive tackle position is stacked with depth returning Patterson, Raine and Goodyear with starting experience and sizable options in Gulley, Bruno and Ugbaja. Young ends such as McDonough, Tyler and #44 (not on spring roster) could factor into the lineup this season.

Vaughn and #15 were playing at linebacker with the first unit and had above average performances but will still need to improve in shedding blocks and aiding in pass coverage. Connor, Shaffer and #7 saw extended playing time at linebacker and made nice plays against the second offense.

It doesn’t seem likely that there will be any major shakeups in the secondary with many familiar names such as Owens, Hickey, Oldacre, Ellis, and Benn in the mix. #21 had a solid outing in the secondary picking off a ball from Grooms and returning it for a touchdown. Kosmalski was very active at safety breaking up passes and running down ball carriers. Russ, Barnes, Gonzalez, and Holloway all caught our eye throughout the contest as well. The secondary played fast and physical for the most part but struggled with penalties and blown coverages. Grooms had his way with the secondary on one series throwing for a deep pass and then an easy touchdown that left defenders scratching their heads.

The constants along the starting offensive line seemed to be Amegadjie at left tackle, Gargiulo at center and Shuller at right tackle. Durand, Anderson, Nauert and Sullivan shuffled in and out at the guard positions. The decision to move Gargiulo to center is a gamble to shore up the interior of the line that plagued last season. The defensive line made life difficult for the offensive line, yet we were pleased to see far fewer mental mistakes leading to unblocked defenders. The offensive linemen will need to dedicate themselves in the weight room this offseason to create a nastier front that can bully defenders.

Grooms had an up and down performance with a stalled drive and pick-six early on before settling down to roast the secondary on a later drive. His running abilities were neutralized due to both the game’s format and the familiarity of defenders. The performances of the backup quarterbacks were not confidence inspiring, although it was difficult to judge the preparedness given poor blocking from the second offensive line, dropped passes and miscommunications. O’Connor was not spotted in the contest or along the sideline.

Saffold and McKenzie were the highlights of the backfield displaying serious speed and playmaking abilities. Opposing linebackers will really struggle to cover these backs when swinging out for passes along the edges.

The wide receivers were inconsistent on the day with sloppy route running and dropped passes. Although Tipton was not spotted in action, with the amount of talent returning at this position, we had hoped for a more seamless transition following the losses of Carrington and Rouse. The great potential was evident at times with Grooms connecting with Pantelis on a deep pass and Nenad hauling in a touchdown. #19 had the catch of the day holding onto a tough grab. Hawes and Foster will be huge factors for the offense at tight end and H-back.

Bosman is still far ahead of the competition in both the kicking and punting departments. He had a very low, line drive field goal that somehow made it through the uprights but otherwise had solid punts and clean PATs.

Schedule

9/17/22 at Holy Cross

9/24/22 at Cornell

10/1/22 vs. Howard

10/8/22 vs. Dartmouth

10/15/22 vs. Bucknell

10/22/22 at Penn

10/29/22 at Columbia

11/5/22 vs. Brown

11/12/22 vs. Princeton

11/19/22 at Harvard

Reno’s Update

Coach Tony Reno updated the Yale football community on Wednesday night via Zoom. Below are some of the notes from the discussion:

The current roster heading into next season currently stands at 123 players including 23 5th-year seniors and 24 reclassified juniors. Given the size of the roster, only 24 recruits were granted admission slots. Yale’s official recruiting list will be provided following the May 1st response deadline for all admitted students.

The focus this offseason has been to transform the talent pool into bigger, faster and stronger athletes. 8 starters will return on offense and 7 starters will return on defense. Reno believes that this team will have more depth than Team 148 and expects more players overall to see action in 2022. Improving the poor situational awareness seen in 2021 is a key goal of the rebuilt coaching staff.

The out-of-conference opponents in 2022 will be Holy Cross, Howard and Bucknell.

The spring game will be held on April 23rd at noon and will be open to the public. Practices will take place Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays leading up to the spring game.

A renovation plan for the Smilow Field House that now houses only the football and track and field teams has been approved. Fundraising efforts are underway to secure the capital needed to transform the facility.

Yale is providing 100 to 150 daily “snacks” to football players at an estimated cost of $1,000 per day.

Team 149 has adopted the slogan of “Now” to symbolize the sense of urgency and dedication needed to improve on the field, in the weight room and in the classroom on a daily basis.

News Roundup

Coach Tony Reno will be delivering a virtual update to the Yale Football community on March 16th at 7 PM ET. You will need to register using the link provided in the Yale Football Association email to receive the information for the Zoom meeting.

Brown’s EJ Perry was the only Ivy League participant at the annual NFL Combine which concluded on Monday. Perry ran the second fastest 40-yard dash time of any quarterback with a time of 4.65 seconds. Perry’s 3-cone drill and short shuttle times were the fastest among all signal callers. NFL Analyst Lance Zierlein noted that Perry “has average size and arm strength but below-average mechanics and consistency as a passer.” Zierlein sees Perry’s upside as a potential Taysom Hill-like player that poses a legitimate threat as a ball carrier.

Foye Oluokun finished the 2021 NFL regular season as the leader in total tackles with 192 stops. Now that Oluokun’s initial contract has expired, the Falcons will have the difficult decision of whether to re-sign their defensive captain or let him test the open waters of free agency where he could command a speculated $10 million annually. That could bring a whole new meaning to Yale’s 4 for 40 mantra!

The Ivy League Men’s Basketball Tournament will take place this Saturday and Sunday at Harvard. Yale plays Penn at 2 PM ET on Saturday and the winner of Yale-Penn will square off against the winner of the Cornell-Princeton contest on Sunday at 12 PM ET. Good luck Coach Jones, beat those Quakers and Tigers!

The Department of Defense has yet to release an official cause of death for former captain Kyle Mullen. Mullen passed away from an unknown illness on February 4th after successfully completing the Navy’s Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy tweeted that Mullen “represented the very best of the state and country” and we couldn’t agree more with this sentiment.

Stay tuned for more recruiting insights to follow.

Recruiting Impressions

We’ll kickoff our recruiting impressions by taking a look at the top two incoming recruits as ranked by 247sports.com:

Ezekiel Larry– 6’1”, 240 lbs., OLB/DE, Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, CA)

Notable offers: Florida, Colorado, Fresno State

One of Reno’s top defensive line recruits to date, Larry has the size, speed and power to be an instant contributor at defensive end. Larry’s quickness and finesse moves allow him to quickly disengage from would-be blockers but he also demonstrates tremendous power when bull-rushing through offensive tackles. He displays relentless pursuit in the open field and is a sure-fire tackler often dislodging the ball from quarterbacks and running backs. The Bulldog’s defensive line was already the strongest returning unit for 2022 and just added another layer of depth and physicality to solidify the defensive trenches for years to come.

Quincy Briggs– 5’11”, 170 lbs., CB/WR, Memphis Central (Memphis, TN)

Notable offers: Arkansas, LSU, Tennessee

When breaking down film on Briggs, it’s difficult to not draw comparisons to Melvin Rouse. Briggs is a do-it-all athlete with the skillset to return punts, blanket wide receivers and stretch secondaries at the collegiate level. LSU offered Briggs a scholarship after his freshman season and intended to utilize him as a wide receiver; however, we feel his biggest contributions could come on the defensive side of the ball. Briggs shows a deep understanding of zone schemes and has the innate instinct to play the ball in the air. Despite his low weight, Briggs packs a punch upon contact. Briggs could develop into a terror for opposing Ivy League quarterbacks who have become far too reliant on throwing to their first read.

A Look Ahead

What excites us heading into 2022:

  • QB Development: While the quarterback competition could continue into 2022, it seems destined that Reno will opt to start his dual-threat weapon, Nolan Grooms. Grooms struggled with his accuracy and decision making in 2021 but has all the physical tools needed to become successful in the Ivy League. With half of a season of starting experience and a full spring to develop chemistry with his receiving corps, Grooms will hopefully show marked improvement from 2021.  
  • Improved offensive line play: While losing our best offensive lineman, Cam Warfield, to graduation hurts, the much-maligned interior offensive linemen return in addition to Gargiulo. Communication and teamwork can only improve from the low point in 2021 assuming Gargiulo can stay healthy.
  • Expanded big play ability: Dudek, Rouse, Carrington, Sandifer and Howland are all graduating but Reno’s exceptional recruiting efforts have kept the cupboard full of talent. Tipton racked up nearly 600 receiving yards despite up and down performances in 2021. With Tipton’s skill set and decent pass protection for Grooms, he should be an 800+ yard receiver over the next two years. Beyond Tipton at wide receiver, Nenad, Pantelis, Lindley and Felton have the speed, route running abilities and sticky hands to surpass the receiving totals of 2021. At tight end, Hawes is every bit as talented as Howland and his productivity should explode in 2022. Alston had a higher average yards per carry statistic than Yale’s all-time leader in the category in 2021 and will be supplemented by a stable of dynamic backs such as Peterson, McKenzie and Eboboko.
  • Dominant Defensive Line: Clay Patterson evolved from a rotational defensive tackle to the most valuable player on the roster over the course of his first few starts. With continued dedication in the weight room this off-season, there may not be an opposing Ivy League offensive lineman that can slow him down next season. Nickerson and Oso are two talented defensive ends that can create chaos in the backfield. Raine returns with a solid year of starting experience under his belt, while Goodyear will look to bounce back from an injury that sidelined him. This could be the top performing defensive line in Reno’s career at Yale.

What makes us nervous heading into 2022:

  • Lack of experienced linebackers: Every starting linebacker from 2021 will depart leaving a very inexperienced crew to pick up the pieces in 2022. Joseph Vaughn, Hamilton Moore, Brian Abraham, Shane Frommer, Nathan Campbell and Dean Shaffer all saw limited action in 2021 and should vie for the starting spots in 2022. If a freshman were to break into the starting lineup in 2022, it seems likely that it would be in the linebacking corps or secondary.
  • Secondary woes: The secondary has been the Achilles’ heel of Reno’s squads even in championship seasons and yet year after year, we witness the same mental mistakes and coaching errors plaguing the team. The top performer in the secondary, Rodney Thomas, is departing and we have returning corners and safeties with extensive experience returning, however, do we throw the same players to the wolves again in 2022 or start from scratch with new recruits and underclassmen? One thing is for certain, changes need to be made from the top down in a hurry to combat this weakness.
  • Field goal/PAT issues: The Ivy League football conference might be the most balanced division across all Division 1 sports. As one fan recently noted, Ivy League games are like “squaring off against your twin brother in an Oklahoma drill.” Outcomes are decided by a single play or a questionable decision from the officials. Bosman or whoever the eventual start is to be in 2022, will need to elevate their game to give Yale the best chance of victory in tight contests.

Awards Season

First Team All-Ivy

JJ Howland, Tight End

Clay Patterson, Defensive Tackle

John Dean, Linebacker

Rodney Thomas II, Safety

Second Team All-Ivy

Melvin Rouse II, Wide Receiver and Kick Returner

Mason Tipton, Wide Receiver

Wande Owens, Corner

Jack Bosman, Punter

Honorable Mention All-Ivy

Kiran Amegadjie, Guard

Cameron Warfield, Tackle

Spencer Alston, Running Back

Reid Nickerson, Defensive End

Miles Oldacre, Safety

Yale Football Blog Awards

MVP: Clay Patterson, Defensive Tackle

Senior of the Year: John Dean, Linebacker

Junior of the Year: Reid Nickerson, Defensive End

Sophomore of the Year: Clay Patterson, Defensive Tackle

Rookie of the Year: David Pantelis, Wide Receiver

Most Improved Over Career: Rodney Thomas II, Safety

Offensive Lineman of the Year: Cameron Warfield, Offensive Tackle

Defensive Lineman of the Year: Clay Patterson, Defensive Tackle

Offensive Skill Position Player of the Year: Nolan Grooms, Quarterback

Defensive Skill Position Player of the Year: John Dean, Linebacker

Specialist of the Year: Jack Bosman, Kicker/Punter

Most Underrated Player: Chase Nenad, Wide Receiver

Harvard Preview

The Yale Bulldogs host the Harvard Crimson on Saturday in the 137th playing of The Game. Kickoff is slated for noon and The Game will air on ESPNU.

Harvard enters the contest with a record of 7-2 following narrow losses to Princeton and Dartmouth. Had the Harvard-Princeton game been officiated correctly, Harvard would be 8-1 and playing for the Ivy League title this weekend. The Crimson possess the most talented roster in the conference and will be playing with a chip on their shoulder to avenge the wild overtime loss to the Bulldogs in 2019.

Harvard has started three different quarterbacks over the course of the season. Junior Luke Emge (6’2”, 205 lbs.) is the most likely candidate to start in this contest having started the last two games versus Columbia and Penn. Emge has completed 58.7% of his passes for 456 yards, 3 touchdowns and 1 interception in the four games that he has played. In last week’s Harvard-Penn contest, Emge was held to a 46.4% completion rate with 164 yards and no touchdowns. Emge could be on a short leash with Coach Murphy, so the Bulldogs will also have to prepare for the possibility of facing senior Jake Smith (6’0”, 181 lbs.) or sophomore Charlie Dean (6’1”, 210 lbs.). The Crimson’s rushing attack is the strength of their offense led by junior Aaron Shampklin (5’10”, 195 lbs.) and sophomore Aidan Borguet (5’10”, 211 lbs.). Shampklin averages 5.7 yards per carry while Borguet averages 5.3 yards per carry. Harvard’s running backs are very fast, can break tackles with ease and possess great vision. The Crimson’s offensive line has been outstanding in run blocking and above average in pass protection. Senior Spencer Rolland (6’6”, 285 lbs.) is the leader of the offensive line and was named to Phil Steele’s pre-season All-Ivy team. Junior WR Kym Wimberly (6’0”, 201 lbs.) is Harvard’s top pass-catching weapon with 31 receptions for 372 yards and 3 touchdowns. Senior WR BJ Watson (5’10”, 187 lbs.) is one of the most elusive receivers in the Ivy League and Harvard loves to get him the ball in space. Freshman WR Kaedyn Odermann (6’3”, 211 lbs.) has established himself as the future centerpiece of Harvard’s aerial attack with the size and speed to create difficult matchups for defenders. Sophomore TE Haven Montefalco (6’4”, 231 lbs.) is a solid all-around tight end with balanced skills in blocking and pass catching. The Yale defense will have their hands full this weekend trying to limit the rushing attack and forcing Harvard to rely on their passing game. Edge containment and angle tackling must improve drastically from last week to secure a victory.

Four-year starter and 1st Team All-Ivy linebacker Jordan Hill (6’1”, 240 lbs.) is the heart of a physical defensive unit for Harvard. Hill has dominated in his senior campaign with 62 tackles, 5 tackles for loss and a sack. Senior linebackers Jack McGowan (6’1”, 216 lbs.) and Andrew Irwin (6’1”, 223 lbs.) have combined for another 85 tackles as opposing offenses key on Hill. Junior safety James Herring (6’0”, 187 lbs.) leads the Crimson in total tackles with 63 and has also hauled in 2 interceptions. Junior defensive lineman Chris Smith (6’2”, 293 lbs.) has been the most productive member of a very strong defensive front with 34 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks and 2 forced fumbles. The Crimson have been adept at rushing the passer with junior Jacob Sykes (6’3”, 277 lbs.) recording 7 sacks, sophomore Nate Leskovec (6’3”, 251 lbs.) recording 5.5 sacks, and freshman Thor Griffith (6’2”, 303 lbs.) recording 4 sacks. In total, Harvard has sacked opposing quarterbacks 37 times this season. While Princeton relied on heavy blitzing to pressure Grooms, Harvard is able to generate similar pressure with just their four down linemen in a base defense. Opponents have found greater success throwing the ball versus running the ball averaging 222.6 passing yards per game and only 59.8 rushing yards per game. Our offense will face their toughest test of the season in attempting to establish the run game this week (with or without Dudek) as it would be disastrous to become one-dimensional.

Junior kicker Jonah Lipel has made 76.5% of his field goals attempts this season with a long of 42 yards. Junior punter Jon Sot averages 39.6 yards per punt and has punted the ball over 50 yards on 8 occasions. Junior WR Demarkes Stradford (5’10”, 179 lbs.) is a dangerous kick returner averaging 28.1 yards per return and returned one kick for an 89-yard touchdown.

Go Bulldogs!