Class of 2019 Leads in Athletic Versatility
In the University’s most selective admission process to date – 6.99%, or 1,908 admitted of the 27,290 who applied – Princeton Football welcomes 31 young recruits from the Class of 2019.
The Northeast provided the greatest amount of talent this year with 11 players, primarily from New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. States in the Midwest like Illinois, Ohio, Minnesota, and Wisconsin contributed heavily to the talent pool. Big Southern and Western states like Texas, Florida, Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia and California followed close behind.
But wherever the new Tigers hailed from, it was their athletic ability that set this recruiting class apart from the others. 24 of the 31 players competed and/or lettered in another sport besides football. Six of those players participated in two other sports, in addition to their commitments to their team. The group shows experience in track and field, wrestling, basketball, soccer, lacrosse and baseball.
“I love multisport players,” Head Coach Bob Surace said. “They know how to compete and have upside. Whether it’s current two-sport track stars like John Hill and Dre’ Nelson, All-State wrestlers like Mike Zeuli and Evan Kappatos, All-State baseball players like Matt Arends, basketball stars like Anthony Gaffney, offensive linemen that played lacrosse like Spencer Huston and Max Coale, I have no doubt this has helped our program.”
The Class of 2019 also shows amazing flexibility. Roughly 90 percent of the incoming group has experience playing in multiple positions. Most have played at least two positions, while some have seen as many as six.
“Versatility is so valuable to our success – I’m sure that’s a similar reason that NFL players have that quality,” Surace said. “Sometimes it’s someone like Mike Zeuli that can play multiple positions, sometimes it’s position switches like Seth DeValve from high school quarterback to wide receiver, sometimes it’s a position group like running back that become special teams leaders (Will Powers, Dre’ Nelson, Joey Rhattigan and AJ Glass) and even players that do multiple things (run, catch, block, throw) like quarterback Quinn Epperly.”
With a senior class heavy with nose tackles, defensive backs and offensive linemen, the Tigers looked to grab players who could fill these key defensive positions. Quarterback remained a priority, and in the recent year, wide receiver positions have had a high importance for the Princeton team.
Yet, the coaching staff’s main priority in recruiting was not focused primarily on filling positions based on graduation losses, but on four critical components they expect to see in each recruit.
“They must be smart, tough, disciplined, and team-oriented,” Surace said. “We also want them to play fast, explosive, and show finish. Our recruiting scout shows camp to be the most relevant connection. Most importantly, we will recruit someone that lacks height, size or speed if they have a rare quality to overcome it – unique foot quickness like Dre’ Nelson or exceptional toughness/effort like Mike Zeuli.”