Tyler Is Another In a Proud Line of Bushnell Finalists
BY JAY GREENBERG
Beyond an undefeated season and three Ivy titles, another way of measuring the success of the Princeton program in the decade about to close is 10 nominations for the Asa S. Bushnell Cup in 10 years.
The latest to become a finalist, in this case for the defensive player of the year award, is linebacker Jeremiah Tyler, invited, along with Dartmouth linebacker Jack Traynor, to New York Monday for the noon presentation.
If Tyler has won the vote of Ivy head coaches, he would follow offensive honorees John Lovett ’19 (twice) and Chad Kanoff ’18, as a fourth straight Bushnell winner for Princeton. The last Tiger defensive honoree was co-winner Mike Zeuli ’15, who shared the honor with Harvard’s Zack Hodges in 2014.
Zeuli is a convenient place to begin to describe the impact of Tyler, whom Bob Surace ’90 finds unprecedented for instincts/play-reading ability at an outside linebacker position during the coach’s 10-season tenure at Princeton.
“In those traits, Zeuli as an inside linebacker and Dorian Williams ’17 as a safety would compare to JT,” said Surace. “But we haven’t had anyone like him on the outside and we have had some good ones there.”
“JT’s energy and effort are terrific from lifts, to practice, to the games. He has a relentless motor. When your best player sets that kind of an example, it’s a sign of good culture.”
Tyler, one of four unanimous first team All-Ivy selections named last week, led the league in tackles for losses with 18 and was second on the Princeton team in total tackles with 62 (34 of them solo).
Since the Bushnell was separated into offensive and defensive awards in 2008, Tyler is the fourth Tiger to be a finalist for the award as a junior – following Quinn Epperly ’15, Lovett, and Kurt Holuba ’19 – and would be the third to win it.
“In a league with so many terrific players to be at least in the top two shows how exceptionally he played”, said Surace.
Princeton has had ten Bushnell winners since the award was instituted in 1970. In addition to Zeuli, previous ones on the defensive side were Dave Patterson ’96 in 1995 and Mike Catapano ’13 in 2012. Caraun Reid ’14 was a runner-up in 2013.
Traynor was also a unanimous All-Ivy pick, in his case for the third straight year. Dartmouth defensive back Isiah Swann was last year’s winner as a junior.