To most people in the spring - especially with the unseasonably hot weather, the trees blooming and graduation around the corner for some - thoughts don't usually drift to college football and the upcoming fall season.
But there are many Patriot League football players, coaches and fans where the spring means plenty. To players, it means donning the pads and jerseys to prep for the upcoming season - or support a great cause. For coaches, it's time to install the gameplans that (hopefully) spell success in the fall.
And for fans, well, there's the many reports on the spring football seasons of all the Patriot League schools. With Fordham just finishing up their spring season just last week, it's a good time to go around the league and see where everyone stands. Part One: Lehigh, Lafayette, Colgate, and Holy Cross. (more)
- A good place to start is Lehigh's bone marrow testing drive, which took place the final week of the Mountain Hawks' spring season and was the subject of a great article in the Brown & White. Lehigh is one of 30 schools that participated this year in the "Be The Match" program, started several years ago by Villanova head football coach Andy Talley. The report states that more than 230 students participated at Lehigh, a fantastic number.
- Worthy of mention in regards to the "Be The Match" program is that last year Villanova WR Matt Szczur, MVP of the FCS National Championship game, discovered that he was a bone marrow match with a 1 year old juvenile leukemia victim. Originally it was thought he needed to donate the same week as the championship game, but it turned out he got the OK to make the donation later. Szczur, who is also a baseball star who is a real threat to be drafted by Major league baseball, had to sit out a doubleheader with Georgetown in order to perform his bone marrow donation.
- Before the Lafayette spring game on April 16th, Paul Reinhart of the Morning Call observed 21 athletes "going through a training series that looked a lot like [ones he] had seen at other times at Lafayette practices." Turns out Lafayette trainer Brad Potts was giving the Leopards' recruiting class a "feel" for what Lafayette's training regimen was like. "Potts told me later that the players -- and the group included some impressive specimens -- were a bit overwhelmed even at a session that was little more than an initiation or a sneak preview of what is to come," said Reinhart, though it was more intended to give the incoming class an idea on what to work on over the summer.
- As for the Leopards' spring game, a 25-4 lightning-shorted affair, the big question from the Lafayette faithful was concerning - unsurprisingly - the quarterback, where the battle for QB Rob Curley's spot will most likely fall to either junior QB Ryan O'Neil, sophomore QB Andrew Shoop or senior QB Marc Quilling. Leopard head coach Frank Tavani said that O'Neil would hold a "slight edge" over the injured Quilling, who didn't play since he had suffered a leg injury earlier in the spring session. Another item of note was that the majority of carries for the Leopards in spring ball came from junior RB Jerome Rudolph and sophomore RB Vaughn Hebron, the son of the former Philadelphia Eagle. It seems like a mortal lock that Hebron will be getting an opportunity this fall to carry the rock.
- Lafayette also announced that senior WR Mitch Bennett and senior LB Michael Schmidlein would be Leopard captains in 2010.
- In the Great White North (my name for Hamilton, NY, home of the Colgate Raiders), there's been lots of excitement, starting with the free-agent signing of WR Pat Simonds by the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles, the announcement of their game with Syracuse next year, and the announcement of their incoming recruiting class. In the middle of this head coach Dick Biddle sat down with RaiderVision host John McGraw and talked spring football. What nuggets of wisdom were learned? "We had a number of players that were banged up and weren't able to participate in spring practice," Biddle explained. "As a result, we were not able to scrimmage as much as we'd like to - we had only one healthy quarterback, senior QB Greg Sullivan, so we didn't want to overwork him." Biddle also mentioned that a "lot" of his depth might be taken up by incoming freshmen, and that his offensive line "impressed" him and "might be the biggest he's had since he's come here [15 years ago], and has the chance to be really good". On defense, Biddle felt the strength of his defense right now is probably the secondary.
- Moving to last years' Patriot League champions, Holy Cross head coach Tom Gilmore has the unenviable task of replacing current NY Giant QB Dominic Randolph. The frontrunner going into next fall would seem to be senior QB Ryan Taggart, who has very patiently been waiting his turn, and had a strong spring game (11 of 13, 102 yards passing). On defense, the player that really stood out was junior LB Jimmy Thomas, who had seven tackles and two sacks in the final spring scrimmage and earned some nice praise from coach Gilmore."Jimmy had a good spring. He's really starting to make serious strides as far as understanding our defense and how offenses are trying to attack us," he said."Obviously, Jimmy has raised the expectation level that we have of him. We feel he is a guy with the ability to be an all-league player and we are looking for him to have a great year as an individual."
- Looking over Holy Cross' captains for next year, it's obvious that the Crusaders have three great athletes returning in senior WR Freddie "The Dream Killer" Santana, senior SS Anthony DiMichele and senior LB Sean Lamkin. Santana's continued presence, who singlehandedly killed both Lehigh and Lafayette's chances at a title last year, is worth noting.
- In addition, former Crusader OL Aaron Jones, who had thought his shot at an NFL dream dashed, recently got a tryout with my New Orleans Saints. (I swear, I had nothing do do with it! Honest!)