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.”

Friday, December 23, 2016

Meet John Garrett, the newest Leopard

John Garrett, Lafayette's new head football coach, receives a Lafayette cap from athletic director Bruce McCutcheon. (Photo courtesy of Lafayette Sports).
The biggest Lafayette College sports announcement of the year was made on Wednesday and there was neither rioting nor celebrating on The Quad because virtually all the students had already left Easton for their homes, with final exams having been completed earlier in the week.

But the early returns on the reaction to the naming of John Garrett as the new head football coach have been overwhelmingly positive, even from the more cynical posters on the Lafayette Sports Fan Forum. The college newspaper and an old, retired sports columnist got more negative comments than athletic director Bruce McCutcheon – except for one slam to which I don’t care to lend credence.

Like a brand new car being driven away from the showroom for the first time, Garrett may never look better than he did Wednesday. After all, he has yet to make one decision that will rustle the feathers of some Leopards “fan.” Squeaky clean. Not a dent in his armor.

Sure, there’s a segment of Leopard fans that badly wanted someone with Lafayette connections named as the head coach. One former linebacker is plenty riled up, but he wasn’t on hand on Wednesday. No Lafayette people in the final three? Not good.

Friday, November 25, 2016

A Leopard in the postseason: Chris Brockman

Lafayette is in the playoffs!

Well, not exactly, but on the first weekend of a long offseason after another frustrating year on College Hill, I decided to go looking for some good news.

I found it by way of Colorado School of Mines, a Division II program that is playing in the NCAA Division II quarterfinals this weekend.

Do you know who the starting "Leo" linebacker is for Mines? One CHRIS BROCKMAN.

Lafayette followers will remember Chris as the outstanding strike linebacker for the Leopards in Art Link's first season as offensive coordinator. He was the team's leading tackler.

Big things were expected of him for 2015, but he never played a game because of injury. He could have applied for a medical red-shirt season but would have had to suspend his pursuit of a degree. He decided instead to finish college with his original class and play his final year of football elsewhere while going for a master's degree.

That  elsewhere is Colorado School of Mines. And he's doing great. He was an all-academic selection in the RMAC  on the study side.

The 225-pound Texan, who undoubtedly would have made a big difference in the Lafayette defense in 2015, has started every game for Mines. Mines is 10-2 as it goes to the game tomorrow (Saturday) aat Ferris State in Michigan. Mines is a top-20 team in Division II and has won nine games in a row to stand at 102.

Chris has 86 tackles, 12 tackles for loss -- both team highs -- and 5.5 sacks. He has one interception.

I know I missed him last year, just like I missed both Matt Rothrock and Brandon Bryant this year.

I'm pretty certain that the naysayers on the Lafayette Sports Fan Forum would be a lot less critical because the Leopards would have won considerably more than three games in the two seasons.

Those years are history. Congratulations to first-team all-league tight end Dylan Wadsworth and second-teamers Jerry Powe and Matt Mrazek. All return next year. And on to the weight room for everyone.

Oh, yeah, and go get 'em, Chris. We're rooting for you.

Chris had nine tackles and a sack, but the Orediggers lost 38-17 to Ferris State.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Lafayette-Lehigh FB: the rest of the story

I laid out a case in Saturday’s Morning Call of what I thought had to happen for Lafayette to have a chance to upset Lehigh. 

I have to admit that when I started compiling the information, I didn’t have a lot of confidence; but by the time I was finished, I actually thought it was doable.

Well, we all know it didn’t happen. It was 45-21, and at times it looked a lot worse than that and at other times it looked like it might get considerably tighter than that. So, here’s a look at how my formula worked out.

I called for no turnovers. I said a couple of interceptions and a fumble could turn things ugly “in a hurry”. Well, that DeSean Brown fumble on the first series, when the Leopards had meandered inside the Lehigh 20, hurt. A lot. It hurt the Lafayette coaches so much that Brown was not at RB the next time the Leopards got the ball.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Leopards-Raiders notebook: Adam Bridgeforth and more

Colgate's Adam Bridgeforth (21) makes one of his two interceptions against Cornell.
Photo courtesy Colgate University.
Adam Bridgeforth looked anything but happy about his first day of preseason football camp at Colgate in August. In fact, Raiders’ head coach Dan Hunt thought the talented cornerback appeared teary-eyed.

“I thought he was crying because he didn’t think he’d be able to perform, but it turned out he was so emotional about just being back on the football field that he had tears in his eyes during practice,” Hunt said via telephone on Thursday.

No wonder.

Bridgeforth, a Nazareth High School grad, broke into the starting lineup at Colgate midway through his sophomore year, then had a 60-tackle, two-interception junior year and was looking forward to a big final year. But in the first game of 2015, he blew out his knee in a game against Navy. He applied for and received a medical red-shirt season, so he worked hard to get back in shape.

He was working out with his teammate during an informal summer passing drill when he reinjured the same knee – the meniscus, this time, but bad enough to require another surgery.