Varga Retires

The Colts shifted Tyler Varga to the reserve/retired list on Tuesday effectively ending the NFL career of the former Yale RB.  Was the writing on the wall that Varga would not make the cuts or did he simply not want to put his brain through another training camp slugfest?  He suffered a serious concussion last season and then publicly stated in the offseason that he refused the team doctor’s recommendations, so this may have also ruffled some feathers in the front office.

We are under two months to kickoff at the Yale Bowl vs. Colgate (51 days to be exact).  Colgate will have one game under their belt before playing the Bulldogs as they suit up on September 2nd against Syracuse.  Colgate finished 9-5 last season and made it all the way to the quarterfinals of the FCS Playoffs, so this will be a tough matchup to start the season.  The Penn and Columbia contests are now slated for Friday evenings and we are hopeful that they will be broadcast on NBC Sports once again.

New Uniforms and Updates

Under Armour unveiled the new Yale football uniforms last week.

As you’ll notice, there are only minor modifications to the classic uniform, but it is a welcome refresh.  On a side note, is that Tyler Varga modeling the new look?

Speaking of Varga, he is in a tough battle for the backup running back spot behind Frank Gore in Indy.  Varga will have to compete against rookie Josh Ferguson, Robert Turbin, and Jordan Todman (UCONN) to stay on the roster this season.  Varga will likely have to beat out two of those potential backups just to secure a spot on the 53 man roster.

Some readers were confused if Emil Johnson was still in charge of the strength and conditioning program after Yale’s announcement in April that consultant Tom Newman was brought in to overhaul the program.  We confirmed from a source that Emil is no longer working directly with the football squad.  I know some of the players had to bummed over the change, but let’s see how this season unfolds in terms of player conditioning and injuries before criticizing Reno.

Summer Notes

Abu Daramy and Walker Lott did not appear on the official recruiting list released by Yale, while Sean Kissel (DE) and Devin Moore (DE) were both added to the roster.  Some supporters have suggested Daramy may not have had the grades to get in, but we can neither confirm nor deny the rumors.  Yale can always utilize talented pass rushers like Kissel and Moore, but at the same time, it is disappointing to see that one of the freak athletes of the recruiting class will not be playing for Yale next fall.

The Yale reunion season has come and passed.  The weather held up nicely for most of the weekend and apparently several attendance records were shattered across various classes.

Updates

We are anxiously awaiting the official announcement from Yale regarding the 2020 recruiting class.

Fourth-ranked Yale Lacrosse hosts Navy this Sunday in the 1st Round of the D1 Men’s College Lacrosse Championship tournament.  A Yale win could set the stage for a huge rematch against #5 Brown.

The Yale Baseball team will be traveling to Princeton this weekend for the best-of-three Ivy League Championship Series.  Despite being heavily criticized in the past, Tom Beckett has truly elevated Yale sports over the course of his career.  Basketball earned a spot in the tournament and knocked off Baylor.  Men’s Crew is currently ranked #1 in the country.  Lacrosse won the Ivy League Tournament over Harvard (Alessi had two goals) and Baseball is in contention for an Ivy title this weekend.  Beckett’s made mistakes in the past, but no one can question his dedication to building Yale’s athletic department.

Harvard announced that members of unrecognized single-sex social groups (AKA fraternities, sororities, and finals clubs) will not be eligible to hold positions of leadership on athletic teams or in student government organizations.  The administration seems to think that by discouraging involvement in these social organizations, incidents of discrimination and rape will decrease.  The true consequences of this action will be decreased student happiness and lackluster alumni giving campaigns (both of which are great for Yale).  I can’t imagine how DKE and Zeta members on the Yale football team would react if Salovey were to announce such a bizarre rule!

NFL Draft

Princeton TE Seth DeValve was selected in the fourth round of the NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns, while Harvard OL Cole Toner was selected by the Arizona Cardinals in the fifth round.  Both of these picks were surprising as DeValve was projected to go undrafted and Toner was projected to go in the sixth or seventh round.  DeValve actually played WR last year at Princeton and will need to develop his blocking skills to earn a roster spot as a tight end at the next level.  Browns scouts are hoping they found the next Eric Johnson in DeValve.  Toner is a solid right tackle that should be more NFL-ready than DeValve, yet his lackluster Pro Day numbers suggest that he must improve in the weight room to compete against NFL defensive ends.

We still haven’t heard any news on Morgan Roberts yet.  FCS players are clearly gaining respect in NFL circles and it’s only a matter of time before another Ivy Leaguer sneaks into the first round of the draft.

Blue-White Notes

Yale’s annual Blue-White Spring Game was held on Saturday, but resembled a typical practice in both form and spirit.  This was the result of both a scheduling issue and a number of injuries across the board.  Surely Yale’s athletic department could have arranged a scenario in which the game was played at the end of spring practice and not with three additional practices remaining without encroaching on Reading Period.  It’s disheartening to see that the injury bug has struck yet again after the misfortunes of the past two seasons and it may be an early sign that more key injuries are to come in the fall.

The QB competition remains a two-horse battle with Rafe Chapple and Tre Moore competing for the top spot.  The two QB’s split reps with the first team offense on Saturday and Reno has stated that the competition will last through preseason practices.  We would have preferred to see Reno select a QB this spring in order for the starter to develop chemistry with the receiving corps in summer workouts, but one thing we know about Reno is that he will keep the competition going until the very last second.  It seems logical that Tre Moore will earn the spot given that he is splitting reps with Chapple currently, is a year younger than Chapple, and has the athleticism to be a dual threat weapon.

The physicality at the line of scrimmage seemed to be lacking at this year’s spring game and the offensive line in particular was the biggest disappointment of the day.

 

 

All-Decade Team

We decided to select an all-star lineup from the past ten classes of Yale football players (those graduating from 2006-2016).   Who did we leave off?  Was the best RB McLeod or Varga?

QB: Jeff Mroz

RB: Tyler Varga

FB: Joe Fuccillo

OL: Ed McCarthy

OL: Jeff Monaco

OL: Wes Gavin

OL: Darius Dale

OL: Luke Longinotti

TE: Langston Johnson

WR: Chandler Henley

WR: Deon Randall

KR: Chris Smith

PR: Gio Christodoulou

K: Kyle Cazzeta

P: Tom Mante

DL: Brandt Hollander

DL: Tommy McCarthy

DL: Kyle Hawari

DL: Jared Hamilton

LB: Bobby Abare

LB: Paul Rice

LB: Jordan Haynes

SS: Larry Abare

FS: Cole Champion

CB: Casey Gerald

CB: Drew Baldwin

Random Notes

Morgan Roberts worked out in front of scouts from three teams (Patriots, Jets and Colts) at his April 5th Pro Day.  We wish Roberts nothing but the best of luck, but it will be very difficult for him to crack a 90 man roster heading into preseason camp at the NFL level.  The Colts seem to be the most likely team to give him a shot considering that Tyler Varga is still on their roster after an impressive rookie season cut short due to injury.

Yale is in the midst of revamping its strength and conditioning program with a focus on improving the diets of the players.  Whether an improved ratio of macronutrients can balance out the ill effects of Toad’s beverage offerings remains to be seen.  The most painful memories of the 2015 campaign were observing linemen get pushed around by Harvard and Dartmouth players, so it’s great to see that there is a renewed effort from the coaching staff down to the players that they must get bigger, stronger and faster to win an Ivy title in 2016.

Spring Outlook

The Bulldogs will begin their spring practices on April 9th at the historic Clint Frank Field.

Offensively, Yale needs to select and develop its QB of the future.   Rafe Chapple appears to be the front runner currently, however, he is still very inexperienced as he only attempted 11 passes last season, completing 5 of those for 45 yards.  Tre Moore, Lambie Lanman, Stephen Barmore and Henry Baldwin will be competing with Chapple for the starting role.

Yale has depth and skill at the running back and receiver positions.  At RB, the Bulldogs return Deshawn Salter (561 rushing yards), Dale Harris (279 rushing yards) and former starter Candler Rich (122 rushing yards) who was out with an injury last year.  The Yale receiving corps is stacked with the return of Chris Williams-Lopez, Robert Clemons III, Michael Siragusa Jr., Ross Drwal, Bo Hines, Myles Gaines, and Kyle Marcinick among others.  Leo Haenni (HM All-Ivy in 2014) will likely hold down the starting spot at TE.

Finding a replacement for Longinotti at Center will be a huge priority for Yale this offseason.  Khalid Cannon and Mason Friedline return to anchor the offensive line in addition to the experienced Karl Marback, Beau Iverson, Jeho Chang, and Jon Bezney.  As a unit, the offensive line must get stronger and play more cohesively to protect a young QB next year.  The success of the 2016 campaign will depend on this group’s ability to create holes and provide the QB with enough time to find one of our dangerous threats downfield.

The Yale defense is the strength of the team entering the spring.  1st Team All-Ivy selection Copache Tyler headlines the defensive line with experienced Marty Moesta (24 tackles and 3 sacks), Earl Chism (25 tackles) and Nicholas Crowle (25 tackles).  Captain Darius Manora returns to lead the defense with fellow linebackers Victor Egu and Matthew Oplinger (HM All-Ivy).  The secondary returns Hayden Carlson (92 tackles, 1 INT) Spencer Rymiszewski (49 tackles, 4 INT, 1st Team All-Ivy), Dale Harris (RB or DB?), Jason Alessi (39 tackles, 1 INT), Foye Oluokun (missed most of last year with injury), and Marquise Peggs (9 tackles).  If the defensive line can generate more pressure and the secondary can limit big plays, this defense could be a special one for Yale.

In other news, Yale basketball was defeated on Saturday by Duke 71-64.  Former offensive lineman Stephen Morse was spotted on camera this time supporting his alma mater.