Recruitment Remains a Towering Success

  • May 3, 2019

(Second of two parts)

BY JAY GREENBERG

The elevator goes all the way up on Joseph Hutchinson, to a brain that got him into Princeton, housed under a skull topping six-foot-five inches from his heels. 

As a result, more measurable than ever is the effect on the program from Chad Kanoff ‘s 2013 decision to change commitment from Vanderbilt to Princeton. On the heels of Brevin White’s turndown of Alabama a year ago to enroll here comes another quarterback who drew Power Five conference interest.

Because the 6-4 Kanoff set almost every Tiger passing record, his shadow is going to have length. But in body type and accuracy, the similarities between he and Hutchinson are virtually impossible to ignore.

“You put him side-to-side with Chad, it’s almost a mirror image,” said Coach Bob Surace.

John Lovett, a two-time Ivy offensive player of the year, slipped through recruiting cracks to become a two-time Ivy offensive player of the year. But Surace now has touted quarterbacks lined almost the length of Washington Road.

The nature, and importance, of the signal-calling position draws the most attention at any school, any time an incoming freshman football class is announced.  Yet it takes more than a heralded quarterback for rating services like Hero Sports and 247 Sports to be impressed by Princeton’s follow up to its 2018 top class in the FCS.

Two running backs, two receivers, two tight ends, five offensive linemen and one of the top punters in the nation are among the 14 offensive recruits in the 29-person Princeton football class of 2023, many of these kids advanced enough so that Surace can see them on the field in some role as freshmen. 

Here are the 14 incoming, followed by comments from Surace:

QUARTERBACK

Joseph Hutchinson, 6-6, 200, The Lamar School, Meridian, MS – “We really liked what we saw on video and, at camp, he was even better than on video. He committed to us early, which probably eliminated some FBS exposure.

“He has a beautiful release, unusual for tall guys, and his accuracy is comparable to Chad’s at that age. Joe’s build doesn’t allow great short area quickness, but like Kanoff he is coordinated and gobbles up three-and-a half yards with every stride.”

RUNNING BACKS

Chiago Anyanwu, 5-10, 195, Milton Hershey School, Hershey, PA ­– “We got in on him late, after the coach there sent us a video. Johnny O’Brien (Princeton ’65) is the retired President at Milton Hershey. Through Johnny, we know we are getting a kid of impeccable character with academics that are off the charts.

“We have been really successful with Joe Rhattigan–DiAndre Atwater types of backs–5-8 or 5-9 and thick, with really good vision and balance. Chiago is very reminiscent of those guys.”

Lucas Warfield, 5-11, 185, Gonzaga College High School, Washington, DC–“Lucas has a slashing type of running style, catches the ball very well, and has the size and physicality to be a blocker. His versatility and size projects him as a three-down back.  The video is reminiscent of Ryan Quigley’s, (’20), with a lot of the characteristics that should make Lucas a good special teams player early in his career here.”

WIDE RECEIVERS

Alex Cherry, 6-4, 220, Saint Sebastian’s School, Needham, MA –”Alex comes to campus with a big, broad-shouldered body and explosiveness very reminiscent of Seth DeValve. Whereas Jesper (Horsted) and (Stephen) Carlson worked very hard in the weight room, Alex is coming to us already a big strong kid but, with this speed, he is not someone you expect to convert to tight end. 

“They all have to learn the offense-the $64,000 question–but we’ve had freshmen get on the field at wide receiver so Alex definitely will be pushing to play early.”

Tamatoa Fatalea, 6-0, 180, Ponahou School, Honolulu, HI –“Andrei Iosivas  (’22) came to us from the same school, but Tamatoa is a little different. Andrei stood out with his size and speed. Tamatoa is more of a Dylan Classi (’22) in that his measurables don’t jump out; he’s just a good football player who steps up and makes plays. In the (All-Star) Polynesian Bowl, Tamatoa was one of the best players while going up against the best cornerbacks in the country. He has outstanding body control.”

TIGHT ENDS

Luke Gibson, 6-6, 220, Tom C. Clark High School, San Antonio, TX –“Like Carson Bobo (’22), Luke was used more as a receiver in high school. But at that size we wanted to get him camp to see if he could block and Luke did a good job. We have worked very hard to get tight ends that have the athletic ability to stretch the field but also have the size and range that make them friendly to the quarterback. Luke is a perfect fit for what we are looking for.  His catch radius is outstanding, and with physical maturity, he has the ability to be an outstanding red zone target.”

Eddie Duggan, 6-4, 220, Milton Academy, Milton, MA –“His explosiveness and power jumped out at us at camp, like Harrison Caponiti’s (’22), who, as a freshman, blocked a couple punts for us last fall. Scott Carpenter (’17) was as good an all-around tight end as I have had here and he played most of his career at 210-215 pounds. Eddie is like a bigger Carpenter.”

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN

Blake Feigenspan, 6-4, 260, Ponahou School, Honolulu, HI –“He gets outstanding leverage on his blocks. Like Erik Ramirez (’18) and Zack Zambrano (’22) Blake gets into guys with power.  He will develop into a good enough pass protector but has a chance to be a dominating run blocker. Blake has played some tackle but will be more a center-guard for us.”

Nick Basten, 6-4, 245, East Ridge High School, Woodbury, MN –“I believe Nick is our first kid who played hockey in high school since Steve Cody (’11). He has the broad-shouldered frame of the younger Ivanisevic, Niko, (’21) and good balance, which probably was helped by being on skates. At our camp, Nick, who projects as a guard-center, seemed to be a step ahead of everyone from a football intelligence standpoint.”

Richard Krebs, 6-3, 270, Servite High School, Anaheim, CA –“Richard reminds me of Stefan Ivanisevic (’19) in quick twitch coming off the ball.  As with Stefan, we will have to work on Richard’s balance but he has the length to play tackle.  I don’t know if Princeton ever has gotten anybody else from Servite besides Doug Butler (’86) and Mike Hirou (’91), which, if true, means it has been a long time. But with just those two, I would say we’ve done more than just well from this school.”

Kurt Bernard, 6-4, 260, North Broward Prep School, Coconut Creek, FL
–“In my opinion, Kurt is the best athlete that we have brought in for offensive line since Reilly Radosevich (’20). When I asked Kurt for his favorite play call, he said ‘Anytime I get a chance to pull.’  Most big guys don’t like space but he’s very comfortable there and as his body fills out. Kurt has a chance to be outstanding anywhere we put him, either at tackle or guard.

Jonathan Boyd, 6-6, 280, Capital Christian School, Sacramento, CA –“You spend a lot of time with most recruits talking about academic support because they are anxious to know if they can do the work at Princeton. But as I started to go through that stuff Jonathan had already done that. He asked,  ‘May we talk football today?’  

“He has an ability beyond his years to communicate what he should be doing technically. That felt so great to me because in the NFL that’s how the conversations go. Andrew Whitworth (second-round pick 2006 by Surace’s Bengals) was my favorite interview ever leading up to draft; it felt like I was talking to a 10-year veteran. Jonathan, who has the length suited to be a tackle for us, understands body mechanics like Mitch Sweigart (’18) understood them. That helped Mitch, one of Princeton’s all-time greats, play as a freshman.”

PUNTER

Will Powers, 6-2, 190, Choate Rosemary Hall, Wallingford, CT –“Most punters and kickers have been going to camps and working on technique since they were 12 years old. Will is different in that he played tennis at a high level, among other sports, and I think that really helps. Like his Dad (Bill Powers ’79, who played defensive back in addition to being an All-Ivy punter at Princeton) Will is athletic, has strength and body balance, all those things you need to be terrific

“He won a national punting competition for places in the US Army All-American game. In it, his team didn’t move the ball well and Will averaged about 50 yards and was MVP of the game. After committing to us before senior year, he became the placekicker, too, at Choate after a guy he was behind there went off to Boston College. We have two placekickers now (Tavish Rice and Nico Ramos) so we’ll see about Will eventually placekicking here, although that’s a lot of stress on one leg.”

Monday: The defense recruits.

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