It Takes 12 All-Ivy Spots to Honor the Tiger’s 2017 Excellence
BY JAY GREENBERG
A Princeton offense that averaged 38 points and 483 yards per game was appropriately represented on the All-Ivy teams announced Tuesday.
Coaches who nominate their own players but cannot vote for them did not really need Bob Surace to tell them that quarterback Chad Kanoff, wide receiver Jesper Horsted and offensive tackle Mitchell Sweigart were obvious first-team choices, or that guard Erik Ramirez, offensive tackle Reily Radosevich, running back Charlie Volker, wide receiver Stephen Carlson and kick returner Tiger Bech were worthy second teamers.
Perhaps even more impressively, the coaches did not get caught up in the Princeton defense’s severe late-season decline through massive amounts of injuries along the defensive front and linebacking corps. Despite it all, linebacker Tom Johnson’s 95 tackles–seven and-a-half of them for losses– and relentless drive were rewarded with a first-team selection. And even though he missed the final four games, last year’s Ivy League defensive player of the year finalist, Kurt Holuba, was shown proper respect with an honorable mention.
“We went from 60 yards against rushing per game in the ones that Kurt played to 300 after we lost him,” said Surace. “I’m glad he got recognized.”
Holuba was not the only Tiger honorably mentioned. Freshman cornerback C.J. Wall and tight end Graham Adomitis earned that status; Wall because he was second in the league in interceptions (three) and also runner-up in pass breakups; Adomitis because even though his pass-catching role was diminished by a nagging injury, he still finished second in catches at tight end in addition to blocking superbly.
The principal disappointment was the non-inclusion of center Richard Bush.
“It’s hard to get four [offensive linemen recognized],” said Surace. “There are no individual stats at that position to present for a particular guy that he should be included, but Richard was worthy. He made the play calls and blocked very well for a line that gave up eight sacks the entire year and was in the top two in the nation in sacks per passing attempt.
“There are a lot of good linemen in the league but I was surprised Sweigart didn’t make unanimous. At Princeton there are only two or three names from the past 30 years who would be in Sweigart’s category.
“He was 1st-team last year and this year, playing 30 pounds bigger, he was even better, not giving up a single sack. In the final two games, playing on one-and-a-half legs, Mitchell shut down (Yale’s) Matthew Oplinger and (Dartmouth’s) Nick Tomkins, two of the top defensive players in the league.
“Reily had a heckuva year. And I thought Erik was the best guard. So tenacious, he just locked guys up. Typically, guys who play like him, or like I did, are put at center because their arms aren’t long enough. But he had great quickness and is so strong in his core that he could not be bull rushed.”
Horsted, who led the league with 92 catches, was a unanimous choice, as was Kanoff, who had staggering passing statistics like 347 passing yards per game and a 73 per cent completion percentage.
“Even Johnnie Cochran couldn’t make an argument that any quarterback in Ivy League history has had a better season than Chad did this year,” said Surace.
As always, there was no shortage of strong running backs who were recognized–or not–on Tuesday but Charlie Volker’s 14 touchdowns, 12 in Ivy League games, brought him second-team recognition behind Yale’s freshman sensation, Zane Dudek and Harvard’s Charlie Booker III.
Johnson’s relentless sideline-to-sideline drive was not easily lost even as the depleted defense sagged in the final four games. “There were four or five great linebackers in the league this year and Tom was one of them,” said Surace. “He really stepped up and embraced a new position.”
Bech, a sophomore, was second in the league in kickoff return yardage. Carlson figured to have a hard time beating out Horsted and Justin Watson, last year’s Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year runner-up. But for a horrendous call that nullified a winning touchdown catch with three seconds remaining at Penn, he still might have.
“That’s a shame,” said Surace. “You win a game with a catch like that, it would be hard not to put him on there even if Jesper, Watson, and (Columbia’s Josh) Wainright all had great years.”