Sunday, September 24, 2017

Some leftover thoughts from Leopards' loss to Princeton

Cleaning out the notebook from Lafayette's 38-17 loss to Princeton.

It was as though someone from Princeton had gotten his hands on a copy of the Lafayette football game plan.

The Leopards lined up for the first play at the 35-yard line after the Tigers’ kickoff went out of bounds. Good field position without having to take a hit.

Lafayette Coach John Garrett called a simple running play. Instead of it being stopped for no gain, DeSean took it for five yards. Nice.

Second-and-5, and another running play, with Brown gaining another four yards.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Mrazek mystery continues and the Leopards languish

It was the second game of the 2014 season. Freshman wide receiver Matt Mrazek made the first start of his Lafayette College career. The guy people were proclaiming as the next Mark Ross didn’t have a catch as Lafayette won 50-3.

That was the only game in which Mrazek, native of LaGrange, Ill., did not catch at least one pass.

Until Saturday night.

And this time I couldn’t blame it on the fact that Lafayette freshman quarterback Sean O’Malley has a closer rapport with sophomore Nick Pearson. Pearson was injured while returning the opening kickoff, and I’m told he was on the sideline with an arm in a sling, watching as the Leopards laid another offensive egg – literally this time, being shut out 59-0 by No. 7-8 ranked Villanova.

I wrote last week how Mrazek seems to be getting the cold shoulder from someone. How else do you explain the fact that he has just one catch in the first half of the season opener against Monmouth and then no catches until the fourth quarter of the second game against Sacred Heart?

Now this!

Leopards’ coach John Garrett gave a long explanation on the Mrazek question at least week’s media luncheon, and you can read that on my blog.  I’m thinking Garrett would probably have pretty much the same answer this week, because nothing else has changed.

The Lafayette running game did nothing to relieve the pressure on the aerial attack. Yet the game stats show Mrazek was the targeted receiver only once.

Is that possible? Apparently so. Last season, Mrazek caught 11 balls in one game and nine in two others. His low for the year came against Villanova and Bucknell – three catches in each.

He would have had to be a miracle man to change the outcome of Saturday night’s game, but A SHUTOUT??

Involving Mrazek is only one of the Leopards’ problems. For example, they now rank 122nd of 123 FCS teams in average rushing yards per game (9.0), 114th in third-down defense (allowing 21 of 38), 110th in rushing defense (241.3 ypg), 107th in total defense (476.3).

Some of the glaring stuff against Villanova was the Wildcats’ 38:34-to-21:26 advantage in time of possession; 50-72 in offensive plays; 45.0-63.4 average yards per kickoff. Trivial stuff, you say. Maybe not.

Lafayette won only one thing: fewest penalties. The Leopards committed two for 25 yards, the Wildcats 11 for 107.  In the last two games, opposing teams have given Lafayette a total of 262 penalty yards.  Didn’t matter, though.

I can’t take any more sadness, so I’m stopping for now. They should be burning the midnight oil in Bourger Varsity Football House. Somehow, all the rhetoric has to be turned into reality, and that’s not going to be easy. Lafayette hasn’t defeated Princeton since 2003 and won’t be favored in this one, either.

If you thought 59-zip was ugly on Saturday night, you should have been there to see just how bad it could have been if the Wildcats had played all night. 

If this season was a boxing match, it would have been stopped long ago. Coach Garrett brought out the Monday Night Football song to put some fire into spring practices. Maybe he needs to bring "Rocky" to Fisher Stadium Saturday night. Think outside the box. It can't hurt. Can it? 


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Where's Matt Mrazek? Here's the answer

John Leone was probably asked many times during his career as a basketball coach why he didn’t get the ball more to this guy or that guy.

So, it was somehow appropriate that Leone, who now works as the sideline reporter for the football game coverage on the Lafayette Sports Network, should ask about Leopards’ wide receiver Matt Mrazek during Tuesday’s media luncheon.

Mrazek was the target for just one first-half incomplete pass, then none in the third quarter against SHU. He finished the game with three catches in the fourth quarter, one for a touchdown. He and freshman quarterback Sean O’Malley didn’t connect on four other attempts in the final 15 minutes.

This came on the heels of a Monmouth game in which Mrazek had just one catch in the first half. In the second half, O’Malley’s first pass to Mrazek was incomplete, but the two then teamed up for eight straight completions – one a 17-yard touchdowns.

Garrett’s answer is textbook stuff. So, rather than paraphrase it, here it is in its entirety.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Sean O'Malley: A late addition, but a fast learner

Freshman Sean O'Malley will be Lafayette's starter on Saturday. Photo courtesy of Lafayette College.
Is Connor Wedington the new Christian McCaffrey at Stanford? The freshman receiver is wearing McCaffrey’s #5, and he caught six passes for 82 yards in a 62-7 win over Rice in the first game of his college football career last week.

Why should we care, you wonder. Or, why should we care about Hunter Bryant, a tight end at the University of Washington, or David Cormier, a running back at Air Force, or Parker Cardwell, a wide receiver at the University of California.

I mention them only because, in May of 2016, they had four of the top five scores in an Elite 11 Seattle camp featuring mostly high school juniors. The camp had more than 40 quarterbacks among the group and one of them was a kid named Sean O’Malley of Beverly Hills, Calif. 

It was a truly elite group, and O'Malley fit right in.

Maybe O’Malley didn’t have the reputation of those other four guys at the time, but he was ranked second best among the quarterbacks. That should have been enough to get him some strong looks from premier football schools, but when National Signing Day 2017 came and went, he wasn’t among the signed players. 

He was not forgotten, however, and about six weeks after NSD, he was announced as committing to Lafayette College.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Leopards-Monmouth: A home game for Garrett? Not!

George Webber, the lead character in Thomas Wolfe’s classic, “You Can’t Go Home Again,” didn’t like what he saw when he returned to his home town.

John Garrett, Lafayette’s first-year head football coach, isn’t expecting to have the same kind of feelings on Saturday when he and his Leopards open the season against Monmouth University in the Haswks’ brand new $16-million stadium.

Speaking about it on Tuessday at the weekly football media luncheon, here’s what Garrett had to say.

“I’m really just excited, getting to play back in my home town. My parents live 15 minutes from Monmouth University in Monmouth Beach. It’s going to be fun; it’s going to bring back great memories. We moved to New Jersey in 1970 when I was 5 years old and my dad was coaching for the Giants.

"They had training camp at then Monmouth College, so I would go see practices at Monmouth College when I was 5, 6, 7 years old. To have your first game there is pretty ironic and pretty cool stuff, so I’m excited about that personally, but also excited for our team. They’ve really work hard and improved immensely. They’re excited for what they’re about to do and I’m happy for them that they get this chance."

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Leopards football preview: TV, Internet and roster news

Coach John Garrett addresses the Leopards at the end of the final training-camp practice.

This is the day! At noon, we’ll get together with Coach John Garrett and a couple of is players to talk about the season opener at Monmouth.

My preseason stories appeared in today’s Morning Call, but when I checked The Call’s website, I didn’t see the schedule and the possible starting lineups that ran in agate in the paper.

The schedule includes the television and computer online coverage of the Leopards’ games. Pretty impressive stuff by Scott Morse and the crew at Lafayette, with the LAFAYETTE Sports Network Carrying most of the load – on RCN cable Channel 4 and on WBPH Channel 60.

But the Monmouth game will be on ESPN3 only. And LSN will not be covering the Harvard or Georgetown games, although I don’t understand for the life of me would not want as much coverages As possible. Harvard’s game will be on North East Sports Network and the Ivy League Network; and Georgetown will be available only online through the Patriot League Network. The PLN online will carry all except the Monmouth game, so there is plenty of chance to see the Leopards without leaving home.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Lafayette football: The QB search continues

John Garrett knew it was coming. The new Lafayette College was facing the media at the annual Media Day luncheon last week, and it was inevitable that he would have to face questions about his quarterback battle at some point.

It came at the very beginning of the question-and-answer period, and I’m happy to say I was not the first to bring it up. I might be accused of being a broken record on the subject, so I waited patiently and let Express-Times writer Brad Wilson throw it out.

Garrett delivered some of the familiar phrases like “great group of guys”, “we don’t make the depth chart,” “a really competitive situation”, “when it is clearly determined by the players by their performances on the field”, “a meritorious situation.”

He said the process of evaluating all these quarterbacks hadn’t slowed the progress of installing the offense the Leopards will use when they open the season at Monmouth on Sept. 2. So, finally I asked how long he could continue to evaluate before deciding which QB would prepare for the opener as the designated No. 1.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Leopards' Garrett tips his hand on a lineup -- but no guarantees

Well, on the opening day of summer training camp, Lafayette football Coach John Garrett issued his first official two-deep chart. It’s been a long time in the making, and it was still being tweaked as of Wednesday. I’m almost afraid to say much about it because it could be different again before the week is out.

It surely is interesting, though.

Where do we start? Why, at QUARTERBACK, of course, because that is still be biggest plum on the tree. It should come as no surprise that senior Josh Davis is listed at No. 1 because he had the best spring of the four guys in the running at the time. Sophomore Austin McCrum, who has had some individual training with Tony Racioppi last month, and who was probably the heir apparent to the job before Frank Tavani and his staff departed early in the year, is listed at No. 2. Seven QBs were throwing on Thursday, with Mike Lewis standing around with his arm in a sling.  Davis may be hard-pressed to hang on to that job, but watching things develop will be intriguing. We still don’t have a complete picture of what the John Garrett offense is going to look like.

But I can give you a hint. I looked at the 2016 statistics for the Richmond Spyders, who had Garrett as their OC. I put them up against the same numbers for the anemic Lafayette offense of last season.
                                                RU                  LC
Rushing attempts                502                 334
Yards per rush                      3.9                   2.3
TDs rushing                          18                    9
First downs rushing            95                    44
Passing attempts                  436                 430
TDs passing                           27                    17
Yards per pass                       8.7                   6.8
3rd-down conversions         83/197           53/160
Sacks allowed                       31                    33
TDs scored                            47                    27
Red-zone TDs                       31-58              20-36
Points scored                        401                  216
% running plays                   53.6                 43.7   

RUNNING BACK – Easily the most experienced of the lot is DeSean Brown, and he is listed on the first team. But past experience – unless it’s off the charts – probably doesn’t count a lot with Garrett and his staff, who have this open-door policy all along the line. Sophomore Mike Dunn showed good drive in the spring, and oft-injured senior Rajhan Meriwether looked the fastest of the crop and his due for a full year. They are the No. 2 spot at the position. Tyler West transferred out and took himself out of the mix. C.J. Amill is somewhere out there, and the Leopards have depth at the position. It’s a matter of who fits into the Garrett scheme. Get to the hole quickly and with authority. Meriwether is wearing Ross Scheuerman’s old number. If only …

FULLBACK – This is really a hybrid spot held by a guy who can double as a fullback or, in the right formation, a second – or even third – tight end. Junior Will Eisler has played in only one game in his first two years but must ha e made a good impression in the spring because he’s at No. l, with sophomore Ryan Monteyne behind him. Monteyne also saw no game action as a freshman.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Patriot FB coaches talk numbers, etc.

Colgate opened the 2015 football season at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, and Raiders coach Dan Hunt, answering a question about roster sizes during the Patriot League’s football teleconference on Thursday, quipped, “(The Midshipmen are) still coming out of the tunnel, they had so many guys.”

I thought pretty much the same thing last season when Lafayette played at Army West Point. The Cadets have 92 players listed on a 2017 roster I examined – and that doesn’t include freshmen. The academies bring in 80-90 freshmen a year. It’s brutal!

The Patriot League has a 90-player cap on roster size and considerably smaller number on travel-team size.

Bucknell has the earliest opening date for preseason camp – the Bison reported today (Sunday). Coach Joe Susan said, “We’re bringing in 85 and I know that some of the Ivy League teams we’re playing against are bringing in as many as 120. You’ve really got to be disciplined about how you handle yourself on field, in terms of contact. Because we’re bringing them in early, they’ll actually have a couple of days off. I think that’s intelligent on our part. That gives them a chance to regroup mentally and physically.” The Bison had a freshman class of 19 players, including four each at OL and DL and safety.

I decided to pursue the roster size with the coaches on the conference call. As it turns out, only Georgetown’s Rob Sgarlata reported that he is at the limit, and his 90 includes 27 freshmen and a transfer. Because he has so many new players, he said he said he doesn’t mind having an extra week of practice before opening Sept. 9.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Lafayette's Garrett: Staff 'may be even stronger'

So, you thought new Lafayette football head coach John Garrett had done a pretty good job of putting together a staff that would change the direction of the program.

Well, consider this. I talked with Coach G last week, and during our discussion of the staff, he said, “I really feel good about the staff – the makeup and the structure of it. It may be even stronger than [what] we originally had.”

Having to research two vital components of a Division I staff at a time when the most obviously qualified candidates have already been picked doesn’t sound like fun.

Unless you’re Garrett.

When offensive coordinator Rich Bartel and tight ends coach Luke Chiarolanzio surprisingly left first-year coach Garrett’s staff during the first week of June, it left him with deep holes to fill, little time to do it and a smaller pool that he might have had to work from five months earlier.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Lafayette football players are not the only ones needing to adjust

Far be it from me to “let down” the guys (and maybe women who don’t want to be officially recognized) who frequent the Lafayette Sports Fan Forum. So, to “Yankeefan1922” and the rest, here I am.

I’m familiar with the word “shill,” but until YF1922 used it the other day, I don’t think I had ever been referred to with that word. The English language allows some words to mean any number of things. So, I went to and researched the word “shill.”

Above the initial set of synonyms is a definition: It says a shill is a “person peripherally involved in illegal activity.” I can only hope YF1922 didn’t have that in mind when he posted his response on LSFF. I’ve never thought of anything Coach T or I were involved in to be illegal.

Over the course of nine years covering the Leopards in my second time around – the first was during the reigns of Harry Gamble and Neil Putnam, both of whom I also considered friends – I got to know a good bit about Coach T, personally and professionally. I make no apology for that. He bled maroon and there were not enough hours in the day for him to work at trying to produce more victories. I wanted him to win – I wanted the kids to win, and it was because of Brandon Bryant, Matt Mrazek, Kaizer Butler et al that I’m considering continuing on the beat this season with Coach Garrett.

YF1922 is correct when he states my position. I’m a freelance guy, not a staffer. When The Morning Call downsized its staff in 2008 and then Lafayette beat writer Don Bostrom left, the paper was without a Lafayette writer. Even though retired, I, as an old sports editor, columnist and reporter, was concerned that the Call would drop coverage of the Leopards. I said so, and the guys at the paper said, “Do you want to do it?” So, I put my fingers where my mouth was and have been at it ever since.

I really enjoy covering the Patriot League. I’ve gotten to know a bunch of hard-working coaches, guys like Dan Hunt and Andy Coen and Tom Gilmore and Joe Susan. I know all of them better than I know Coach Garrett because knowing takes time – both ways. Rapport is not instantaneous. I don’t intentionally “slant toward the former regime;” And if I don’t “seem to be cutting Coach G nearly the slack (I) gave Coach T”, as “The Maroon” alleges, maybe it’s due in part to the fact that the modus operandi is so different.

Am I spoiled? Perhaps. Is Coach G trying to break me of that? Perhaps. Can I adapt to change? Perhaps. But the reporter in me continues to seek answers to questions only Coach G can answer. It’s not that I feel entitled; it’s just different. I’ve been at this for more than 50 years. Coach G is in his FIRST year as a head coach.

I don’t know if he’d admit it, but I’ll bet it’s different for him, too. But it’s his show. I’m along for the ride right now, and my seat isn’t in first class.  But I’m not looking out the rear window, either. I learned long ago that yesterday cannot be changed and there are no guarantees about tomorrow – at my age, I’m sometimes amazed how many tomorrows I’ve been given. (Pardon the commercial, but I can only thank God for that).

Only today matters.

Lafayette football is at an interesting intersection. While the 3-19 of the last two years might suggest otherwise, the cupboard was not left bare for Coach Garrett. The challenges are great, for sure, but not impossible to overcome. I happen to think this might be a great year to be a Leopard – on the field and in the stands. It’s time and lots of good old-fashioned work.

There are a lot of really good stories to be told. Am I up for it? Perhaps.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Summer is busy time for Leopards and Coach Garrett

Lafayette players and coaches joined Chicago Cubs manager and former Leopard athlete Joe Maddon and his wife for a team-building work project on a playground in  Hazleton. Photo courtesy of Lafayette.
Forty days until the Leopards report for preseason camp. And, frankly, a lot of loose ends still need to be tied together.

So, here’s a look at some of issues facing the football team and the college athletic program in general.

Tony Russo was a behind-the-scenes guy with the Lafayette football program, but his contribution should not be trivialized.

Tony was the Leopards’ Equipment Services Director, and according to a bio of a former ESD director that appeared on the Lafayette website, the job description says the ESD is “responsible for purchasing equipment, overseeing game and practice uniforms and overall equipment maintenance … negotiates and facilitates all apparel/equipment contracts …”

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Leopards sacked by Bartel's surprise decision

Lafayette freshman quarterback Reed Aichholz arrived in the Lehigh Valley from his Cincinnati, Ohio, home last Saturday.

Lafayette freshman quarterback recruit Sean O’Malley arrived in the Lehigh Valley from his Beverly Hills, Calif., home Wednesday.

Lafayette freshman quarterback recruit Cole Northrup will be arriving in the Lehigh Valley from his St. Augustine, Fla., home on Sunday.

All three players will become intimately acquainted with Leopard strength and conditioning guru Brad Potts and most of their future teammates during two condition-and-lift periods over the next couple of months as they take part in volunteer workouts in preparation for the start of preseason camp on Aug. 3.

The Lafayette coaches are not permitted to have a role in the workouts, but it’s a pretty good bet that Aichholz, O’Malley and Northrup, along with fourth QB recruit Brycen Mussina, were undoubtedly hoping to at least be able to talk with offensive coordinator-quarterbacks coach Rich Bartel, who has an impressive reputation as a molder of top-notch quarterbacks.

That is not going to happen.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

The Maroon-White Game: The rest of the story

Coach Garrett talks with his quarterbacks. Photo by Rick Smith, Lafayette website.
If John Garrett wants someone to explain his football philosophy in the simplest terms, he should call on Jerry Powe.

“Everyone who’s playing … everyone in the room knows why they’re playing and who should be playing, so it’s not a surprise to anyone,” the rising junior defensive back said Saturday afternoon after turning in a strong performance in Lafayette’s Maroon-White Football Game.

That’s exactly the result the Leopards’ first-year head coach was out to achieve with his “no incumbents”, compete every day, get noticed, win the job decrees.

Powe had good reason for expecting to be cut a little slack. He was among the team leaders in tackles with 78 last year and he was second in tackles for loss with 9.5.  The STRIKE position on Art Link’s 4-2-5 defense was custom made for him.

He had a pick-six interception to open the scoring in Saturday’s game, had his hands on a second interception but couldn’t hold on and also had a couple of hard hits. When I suggested after the game that he’d now have to do it all over again in summer camp, he smiled.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Spring report: Add Meriwether to Lafayette's running-back picture

Warming up for Monday Night Football -- Leopards style.
Rajhan Meriwether came to Lafayette from Arizona with a high school highlight reel that had lots of peopleready to have him take over the running game that would soon be left all but vacant by the graduation of Ross Scheuerman.

But before he ever had a chance to really show anyone his potential, the Chandler, AZ, resident suffered a preseason camp injury that sidelined him for the entire 2014 season.

He is now a rising senior who, if he chooses to do so, could probably apply for a medical redshirt season that would allow him to play again in 2018.

If anyone fits the profile of the player first-year Lafayette Coach John Garrett is looking for, it might be Meriwether. His career undoubtedly has fallen short of whatever expectations he may have had when he accepted the scholarship in 2014. He has been slowed by injuries and has played in only 14 games and has carried the ball just 20 times for 59 yards and no touchdowns.

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 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.”