Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Non-stop action is the opening-day highlight for 'Pards


Lafayette offensive coordinator Rich Bartel talks with his quarterbacks on opening day of spring practice.

Well, we found out on Tuesday the John Garrett answer to how you go about giving four quarterbacks enough of a chance to make an impression on the coaches who will ultimately decide their fate.

You run concurrent passing drills on both sides of the 50-yard line, allowing the coaches to stand in the middle and look in both directions.

Austin McCrum, Josh Davis, Mike Lewis and Blake Meyer threw lots of passes in the brisk two-hour session in Fisher Stadium, and while it was impossible to keep an accurate count, I’m guessing there was not a big difference between first and fourth.

Davis is the only one of the four to have ever thrown a pass in his collegiate career – he completed his only pass in Lafayette’s Yankee Stadium win over Lehigh to end the 2014 season. It was the final play of the first half and was a 20-yard completion to Ross Scheuerman.

QB O'Malley, punter Turk are the newest Leopards


The quarterback competition at Lafayette got its eighth official candidate when Sean O'Malley of Beverly Hills, Calif., was added to the roster on the eve of the start of spring practice.

At the same time, Michael Turk, a punter who has a good pedigree, also was officially added to new coach John Garrett's class of incoming players, bringing the number to 21 for the year.

O'Malley and Turk won't take part of the spring camp that begins today, but both could make some waves in summer camp.

O'Malley is listed as a three-star recruit by 247sports.com. He's 6-2, 200 pounds and is his high school's all-time career leader in passing yards and touchdowns. Check out his video; impressive stuff.

His addition means that two of the eight players vying to succeed Drew Reed as the Lafayette QB have California roots. Josh Davis came to Easton from San Juan Capistrano as a QB, was moved to wide receiver last year and has switched back to QB to take part in the battle this spring. He will be a senior in the fall.

O'Malley joins Reed Aichholz of Cincinnati, Ohio, Cole Northrup of St. Augustine, Fla., and Brycen Mussina of Montoursville, PA, as incoming freshman quarterbacks. Davis, Austin McCrum, Mike Lerwis and Blake Meyer are in spring camp.

Punter Turk is from Dallas, Tex., and his uncle Matt punted in trhe NFL for 19 years and his uncle Dan was an NFL center for 15 years. His brother Ben was a punter at Notre Dame. Michael spent an entire year training with his uncle Matt in preparation for college. And with four-year Lafayette punter  Ryan Forrester graduating, Turk's arrival is perfect.



 

 

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Zooming in on the Leopards' spring-camp roster and plans

OK, so John Garrett isn’t ready to talk about personnel on his Lafayette College football team.

But coming fast to the start of the spring-practice period, we need something to work with, don’t we? I doubt that I’m very good at this, but I’m going to take a shot at a camp starting lineup based on players who should be in uniform when things get under way on Tuesday (4:30 p.m.) in Fisher Stadium.

First, a bit of factual stuff. A look at the roster on the Lafayette website tells us that 11 Leopards will have different numbers than they wore last year. They area

PLAYER                     OLD #            NEW #
C.J. Amill                  26                    2
Rajhan Meriwether  5                     29       
Tre Jordan                27                    7
Kaizer Butler            29                    8
Mike Lewis                8                      15
Phil Parham             16                    22
Clay Rush                  15                    23
Chris Granjean         83                   25
Mike Dunn                42                    27
Nick Pearson            37                    84
Dmitry Smith           38                   26

And now, for a first unit. For entertainment purposes only.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Ready for "new era" of Leopards football on March 21?

Are you ready for some football?

With snow on the way tonight, I thought I’d tease you with a little spring football notice.

Coach Garrett with 2017 recruit J.J. Younger
I sat down with Lafayette’s new head coach, John Garrett, earlier in the week. He was happy to talk about the official start of the football phase of his new job, but by the end of our 45-minute chat, I hadn’t gotten a lot of specifics out of him.

Why? Well, as of now, all he really knows about his Leopards is what he sees in the weight room or during conditioning workouts or on film of last year’s games. So, while we went round and round about some things, we barely touched personnel.

In fact, I did come away with the fact that there will be no two-deep chart at the start of the 15-practice spring camp, which begins at 4:30 p.m. March 21 – just 12 days from now.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Lafayette Signing Day: Can you believe 7 QBs?

As I was leaving the Bourger Varsity Football House today, I glanced into the weight room and spotted Josh Davis. Josh saw me and I motioned to him.

When he opened the door, I asked, ‘So, are you going to play quarterback this spring?”

I was half kidding, but with the quarterback situation that faces the Leopards’ football team at this time, I thought I’d ask the rising senior, who came to Lafayette from San Juan Capistrano, Calif., and sat behind Drew Reed and Blake Searfoss for a couple of years before switching over to wide receiver.

Leopards coach Frank Tavani had always said what a good athlete Davis was, but for whatever reason, that athleticism never translated into playing time for the 6-2, 200-pound economics  major.

Josh smiled on Wednesday and said, “I am; I threw for the first time on Monday. It felt good. I’m going to give it a shot.”

Austin McCrum’s spring-practice competition is getting more intense. Neither rising junior Mike Lewis nor rising sophomore Blake Meyer, the other two quarterbacks on the Lafayette roster, figures to be a serious threat to Austin McCrum, the 6-4, 220-pound rising sophomore from Maine who most people think will be the Lafayette QB when the 2016 season opens at Monmouth in September.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Lawson, Sylvia head Parkettes' 2017 scholarship group


Parkettes gymnasts Erica Fuchs (left), Taylor Lawson, Meredith Sylvia and Alex Frack have gymnastics scholarships to Temple, Stanford, Auburn and Penn State, respectively.

When I walked into the Parkettes National Training Center the other day to talk to Taylor Lawson and Meredith Sylvia about their college commitments and the 43rd Parkette Invitational meet, Taylor was training on the balance beam.

I watched as she stood perfectly still, then suddenly launched herself into a back flip with a half twist, landing solidly on the four-inch-wide beam. I can’t tell you exactly how many Parkettes gymnasts I’ve seen do that same skill over the years, but on this day, I wondered how long it took her to get up the nerve to try it.

Taylor laughed when I questioned her about it, then said, “I first did that skill when I was 12 years old. It took a lot of trial and error and I have like battle scars from it, but now I have a technique that I use. It works, like, 90 percent of the time, so actually it’s one of my easier skills. It looks really hard, but if you have the right technique, it’s really simple.”

“Easy for you to say,” I replied. “Any broken bones?”

Monday, January 16, 2017

Leopards' staff is ready to go to work, Garrett says




“(Rich) Bartel is very smart and has been exposed to a lot of different systems. He will be a coach in the NFL one day, if he so desires.”
Ken Whisenhunt, then-Arizona Cardinals head coach – Aug., 2012.

When I sat down with new Lafayette College football coach John Garrett for the first time, his first words to me, after we introduced one another, were, “Tell me about yourself.”

Just that quickly, the interviewee became the interviewer, and vice versa. The discussion of X’s and O’s could wait.

That’s the modus operandi for the 25-year veteran who’s in the first month of his first job as a head coach.

“I start all the interviews with just asking them to tell me their history, their story,” Garrett said when we talked on Saturday about the hectic first couple of weeks of his life at Lafayette. “(I want them to) tell me how they talk about themselves, their influences to family. I’m constantly trying to figure out if they are going to be a good fit in the program and with other staff members.”

When he was first introduced to the college and the media, Garrett, speaking about his eventual staff, said, “We’ll have a collection of guys with NFL experience, major college experience, FCS experience and a real familiarity with our recruiting footprint, which will be an 8-10-hour drive from Easton. We’re going to have guys who are familiar with Pennsylvania and all the border states -- Ohio, New Jersey, Virginia. We’ll have great teachers on the staff. Our job as coaches is to teach (players) how to do it and why to do it that way so they buy in.”