White Has ‘The IT’–And That’s Hardly It for This Class

  • May 11, 2018

BY JAY GREENBERG

Second of Three Parts on Princeton’s Football Class of 2022

Brevin White wasn’t swayed by a last-minute offer from national champion Alabama because, in his words, Princeton “checked all the boxes.”

The most renowned recruit in 149 years of Old Nassau football left no blanks for Coach Bob Surace, either, from the first time he saw the quarterback on film, following his performance on a wet day at summer camp, through a 2,391 yard, 54 touchdown, 7 interception senior season at Paraclete (Lancaster, CA) High, leading his school to the state Division Six title.

“He was an easy evaluation on film and then when he came to our camp on a wet morning, he still was accurate,” said Coach Bob Surace. “When the weather got better in the afternoons so did he, putting the ball into tight windows.

“So much of the play of quarterbacks is poise and confidence. You can read that when they are in the pocket and Brevin has the It factor that way.

“His ability to throw on the run is uncommon, too. Jason Mitchell (Director of Princeton Football Operations) scouted for the Saints, so when we got Brevin’s mid-season highlight film, I asked Jason, ‘Who does he remind you of in the NFL; what traits does he have?’

“Jason came up with the same guy I did–Aaron Rodgers–in that Brevin can throw from the pocket with a lot of accuracy but also has that sixth sense of getting out when he should and extending a play with great vision down the field.  There were a couple times a game when he made this huge play happen because he had that uncanny ability. And there are very few who do.

“He reads defenses really well, makes good decisions. He is not in the mode of Quinn Epperly or John Lovett in being a battering ram to score touchdowns on the goalline. But in his ability to extend plays he is incredibly coordinated.”

White, the brother of Brady White, a University of Memphis quarterback who recently transferred from Arizona State, stunned the recruiting community in July with his commitment to Princeton, but then decided to satisfy his curiosity when Nick Saban made a pitch in January. Surace has been surprised before when recruits seemingly headed for Princeton had late changes of mind and, inevitably, will be again, but from his dealings with White over seven months Surace was confident that his commitment would hold.

“During his season, we talked every week, but there wasn’t a lot of high maintenance,” said the coach. “I felt all along that he felt this was the place for him.

“He is a team player, a very unselfish person who, like every quarterback we have had, understands responsibility. He went back to work and improved his leadership and decision making during his senior season.”

Five years ago, another four-star recruit with a similarly accurate arm, Chad Kanoff, came to Princeton after de-committing from Vanderbilt, a comparable curiosity factor. Still, Kanoff sat on the bench for two seasons behind two quarterbacks–Quinn Epperly and Connor Michelsen–who engineered an Ivy title.

Similarly, White joins the program as John Lovett, the Ivy’s Offensive Player of the Year in 2016, returns for a senior season. Princeton also is loaded with underclass quarterbacks—juniors Kevin Davidson and Zach Keller, sophomores Cole Smith and John Tracy—all of whom can throw the ball and were cited by Surace for their progress in spring drills. Despite assumptions about this level of competition, it remains rare that an Ivy freshman makes an impact at the most study-intensive position there is.

Nevertheless. . .

“Chad played basketball in high school and missed a lot of development time,” said Surace. “Having concentrated on just football, Brevin will be farther along coming to his first camp.

“Because his team went far in the playoffs, he couldn’t do his official visit here in December, as is normal, or in January, when he played in the Polynesian Bowl, a big all-star game in Hawaii. So when he finally could come, we were into our workouts. He saw the early installation of our spring stuff, and is talking to Sean Gleeson (Offensive Coordinator) all the time.”

Whether the prodigy quickly creates a role for himself amidst a loaded group of returning All-Ivy playmakers, or polishes his trade for two years, there shouldn’t be any shortage of weapons or protection for White when he eventually takes his snaps.

Here are the other recruits at offensive positions with comments about them by Surace. The new defenders will be profiled in a piece to be posted here soon.

RUNNING BACKS 

Shermar “Trey” Gray, 5-11, 170, Wren High School, Piedmont, South Carolina— “Trey had an injury his senior year and some major colleges backed off. Sorry for Trey that happened. But honestly, I said ‘Thank God’ because that helped us get him.

“We love the guy who does multiple things, like take the ball on sweeps and receiving passes, and yet still is strong enough to utilize in protection. Trey is a little taller and leaner than Dre Nelson (‘16) who, pound for pound, probably was the strongest guy we ever had here. But they are alike in the open field; able to make things happen in space, yet still able to do special things between the tackles. The more they touch the ball, whether it is 4, 10, or 15 times, the more opportunities for an explosive play. We really haven’t had that since Dre. Trey is just beautiful to watch.”

Tre McMillan, 5-10, 195, Dacula High School, Dacula, Ga. — “One more Trey or Tre and we would have a trey. I’m excited for much better reasons than making puns, though. McMillan reminds me of Joe Rhattigan and DiAndre Atwater as someone that has the same powerful, explosive leg drive who can turn a three-yard run into a five-yard run, or a five-yard run into a seven, plus break the occasional long one. The contrast between the two guys we are bringing in is similar to when we recruited Dre and DiAndre in the same year.”

WIDE RECEIVERS

Dylan Classi, 5-11, 185, Bergen Catholic High School, Oradell, NJ. – “When I went to his school after Dylan had committed, Fred Stengel—who coached there for 41 years, played with my Dad, and has known me since I was born—said, ‘Congratulations, you just got Yogi Berra!’ The story was that when Casey Stengel would get on the bus, all he had to do was see Yogi to say, “We’re good today.’

Fred said, ‘We just won our first state title in (13) years and Princeton got the guy who did it.’ Dylan was involved in practically every clutch moment. Against Don Bosco, they weren’t having their best game, were down at crunch time and he scored on a 64-yard pass against a really good corner and they ended up winning. He is a quarterback’s dream, catches everything and runs good routes in the mold of Matt Costello [‘15], who played for us immediately. Of the four receivers we took, we were in on Dylan the longest because it was a local school where we had built a relationship that helped us get Kurt Holuba.

“Three of our four wide receivers were in camp the same day, Dylan being one of them. It was like winning the Pick Three, and they are all different styles.”

Andrei Iosivas, 6-2, 180, The Panahou School, Honolulu, HI—“This is the first kid I’ve recruited from Hawaii. One of my good friends who is an alum asked (Defensive Coordinator) Steve Verbit and I, ‘Andrei’s Dad and I have worked together for years; the kid is coming to your camp. I don’t know how good he is but he’s a great kid from a good family, could you take him on a tour?’ Sure, for a friend, we do that all the time.

“The kid gets here and he has a perfect body type for his age and catches everything, high and low, plus runs a 4.62, which probably was a 4.5 considering everyone tells us our times usually are slower than what they are told at other camps. Andrei‘s route running is going to have to be refined a little. But in a four-game package of All Star games in San Diego with California kids playing other states, Brevin was MVP of his game, and Andrei MVP of another.”

Preston Parsons, 6-5, 225, The Hun School (of Princeton, NJ), Hanover, NH – “He was the one of the four who was not at camp, a guy who was committed to another school until one day I got a call from his coach asking ‘Are you still interested?’ I said ‘Can he come over today?’ He did an unofficial visit and his parents came down from New Hampshire to spend some time with us. It was a rapid-fire romance. To him, an Ivy wasn’t a hard sell—he has a brother who plays lacrosse at Penn and we certainly didn’t have to be sold on Hun, which has sent a lot of good players to our league.

“We want to get a big receiver every year in the mold of Jesper [Horsted], Stephen (Carlson), and (sophomore-to-be) Cash Goodhart. Preston runs very well. If you watched him from behind, you would say, ‘That’s Jesper.’”

Michael Polk, 5-11, 175, Williston-Northampton School (of Easthampton, MA,) Cerritos, CA –At camp, he had the fastest 40. In games, he just flies by guys, like whomp. We have had big, strong, and physical outside receivers plus some quick guys; but this is a guy whose feet don’t hit the ground when he runs.

TIGHT ENDS

Carson Bobo, 6-5, 225, Oak Mountain High School, Birmingham, ALA. –“In future years, I can see doing more two, and even three, tight-end sets because of this group. All three of our tight end recruits were basketball players. Although he is a tight end, Bobo is similar to big wide receivers like Carlson in that he has excellent body control and is amazing at boxing out defenders and making contested catches. He will be an excellent red zone target. And, as his blocking skill improves, Carson has the frame to be a three-down player like Graham Adomitis.”

Harrison Caponiti, 6-3, 225, Brunswick School (of Greenwich, Conn.), Rye, NY—“All the tight ends we recruited have off-the-charts athletic ability. Harrison isn’t quite the basketball high flier of the other two but is a very good athlete and more polished as a blocker than the others. He’s similar to Scott Carpenter, whose all-around qualities put him on the field as a freshman, before he made All-Ivy three years consecutively. Right now, Harrison is the most complete of the three we are bringing in.”

Caden Dumas, 6-4, 225 Choate Rosemary Hall (of Wallingford, Conn.), Holden, Mass. – “We were having dinner after practice on the Tuesday night of Dartmouth week when somebody tweeted me a video of Caden to check out. On the second or third play, this kid does a double move. I said ‘Oh my god, I have been waiting to see a tight end do this. Who is this kid?’

“I send the video to (Tight End coach) Mike Willis, and Mike was hook, line and sinker, ‘Wow, we gotta get this kid.’

“Turns out Caden was a high level basketball player, a post type guy, whose growth spurt stopped at 6-4 ½, which meant he was not going to play Division I as a center. So he put more focus into football and recruiting heated up late. We were one of the earliest in on him.”

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN

Luke Aschenbrand, 6-3, 270, Pinnacle High School, Phoenix, Ariz.  – “As we recruited Luke, we weren’t sure what side of the ball to put him on. Once we brought in six defensive linemen, we decided to balance that with six offensive linemen. His story begins like that of Max Coale (’14), who we weren’t sure which side of the ball he’d thrive on, before we moved him to guard. Max became All-Ivy and was key in establishing the culture for the program. Luke already is well over the 1000-pound club (combined score on three different types of lifts). He could play tackle here, but I think at his height, the best fit will be as a guard.”

Henry Byrd, 6-4, 255, The Ensworth School, Nashville, Tenn. –  “Henry has the ideal build for a tackle, eerily similar to Brett Holder, including 34-inch arms. Having the feet to play left tackle and the power to play on the right, he could be a swing guy. He has filled out his frame and made great strides in getting stronger. Henry is nimble, and has the traits to compete against the athletic defensive tackles we face every week.”

Jack Carter, 6-3, 260, William A. Hough High School, Cornelius, N.C. – “Jack was the most polished O-lineman we had at camps last summer. He reminds me so much of Chris Theiss (’93, arguably the best O-lineman Princeton has ever had) and Kevin Mill (‘12), in his balance. Jack has great balance, precise technique, and strong fundamentals. He has a chance to help us right away. I think he is a natural left tackle but could play just about anywhere on the offensive line.”

Ford Roberts, 6-2, 263, Greater Atlanta Christian School, Atlanta, GA.  – “Ford played tackle in high school but has the build to be a tremendous interior lineman. I see him as a guard who can also play center. He has the characteristics of Erik Ramirez and Andre Guest, guards who love to knock guys off the ball. I told Ford, ‘You don’t have to pancake a guy every play; just block him.’ He takes to coaching really well, and was fun to work with at camp.”

Connor Scaglione, 6-5, 220, Northern Valley Regional High School, Demarest, NJ. — “Andy (Offensive Line coach) Aurich was working a camp at a Power Five school when he texted me, ‘Connor Scaglione is going to call you tonight. Offer him, he is as good an offensive lineman as I have seen at these outside camps.’ I got the film and there was no doubt. I watched him in a basketball practice, where you look for little things. Every time someone missed a free throw, everyone had to run the length of the court and back. Connor, the biggest and heaviest kid by far won every one of those conditioning sprints.

“He reminds me a lot of Reily Radosevich and Britt Colcolough (All Ivy ’16) in size, strength and build. Connor hasn’t peaked with his strength in the weight room, but if he gets there as fast as Britt did, it is going to be fun seeing him develop.”

Zackary Zambrano, 6-3, 245, American Heritage High School, Boca Raton, FLA. – “We hit every position on the O-line, with Zack rounding it out as a center. Zack is a product of one of the top two or three high school programs in the country. Their guys have strength numbers off the charts for freshmen and Zack is one of the top lifters in the state. He is the kind of kid you like being around, loves football and I know he will have no issues with running the show as a center, like Dick Bush (’18) who went to Plant High School, another top school in Florida.”

PUNTER

George Triplett, 5-10, 165, Elkins High School, Elkins, WVA— “Easily, George was the most consistent punter we had at camp, extremely polished for his age. I don’t know if he will hit a lot of 50 yarders, but he will be like Tyler Roth in that we will consistently have 38-to-42 yard net punts, which is perfect. A shank out of bounds is one thing; a low line drive can be a disaster. He is a great kid who will fit in the room well, and will drive all our punters to reach new heights.”

Coming: The defensive recruits.

[email protected]

 

The Princeton Football Class of 2022

Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Hometown High School
Luke Aschenbrand OL 6-3 285 Phoenix, Az. Pinnacle
Michael Azevedo DE 6-4 250 San Diego, Calif. Clairemont
Tola Banjoka DL 6-5 245 Fort McMurray, Alberta Episcopal
Zachariah Beagle LB 6-0 235 Rockledge, Fla. Cocoa
Daniel Beard LB 6-0 190 Mobile, Ala. St. Paul’s Episcopal
Carson Bobo TE 6-5 235 Birmingham, Ala. Oak Mountain
Christian Brown DB 6-0 180 Delray Beach, Fla. Atlantic Community
Kevin Bruce LB 6-1 240 Needham, Mass. Needham
Henry Byrd OL 6-5 270 Nashville, Tenn. Ensworth
Harrison Caponiti TE 6-4 230 Rye, N.Y. Brunswick School
Jack Carter OL 6-5 270 Cornelius, N.Y. William A. Hough
Dylan Classi WR 6-1 190 Englewood Cliffs, N.J. Bergen Catholic
Dawson De Iuliis S 5-9 195 Yardley, Pa. St. Joseph’s Prep
Caden Dumas TE 6-5 225 Holden, Mass. Choate Rosemary Hall
Trey Gray RB 5-11 180 Greenville, S.C. Wren
Ike Hall LB 6-2 225 San Diego, Calif. St. Augustine
Andrei Iosivas WR 6-4 185 Honolulu, Haw. Punahou School
Larkin Ison LB 6-1 195 Augusta, Ga. Westminster School
Matthew Jester LB 6-3 230 Spring, Texas Klein
Alex Kilander DL 6-2 265 Santa Margarita, Calif. Santa Margarita Catholic
Tré McMillan RB 5-11 200 Dacula, Ga. Dacula
Emmett McNamara DL 6-6 240 Little Silver, N.J. Red Bank Catholic
Uche Ndukwe DL 6-4 230 Dedham, Mass. Noble and Greenough
Preston Parsons WR 6-5 220 Hanover, N.H. The Hun School
Michael Polk WR 6-0 180 Long Beach, Calif. Williston Northampton
Ford Roberts OL 6-4 280 Duluth, Ga. Greater Atlanta Christian
Ché Rogers CB 5-11 170 Tacoma, Wash. Stadium
Connor Scaglione OT 6-5 265 Cloister, N.J. Northern Valley Regional
George Triplett P 5-11 165 Elkins, W.V. Elkins
Brevin White QB 6-2 185 Stevenson Ranch, Calif. Paraclete
Zackary Zambrano OL 6-4 290 Fort Lauderdale, Fla. American Heritage