Friday, March 27, 2009

QB eyeing Yale

I read with great interest a story written by my former New Haven Register colleague Brian Dohn.

Dohn, the UCLA beat writer for the Los Angeles Daily News, reports that former Nebraska quarterback Patrick Witt is considering Yale as one of four potential schools where he would transfer.

Witt told Dohn that academics were a major reason why he chose to transfer from Nebraska even though he was expected to compete for Nebraska's starting job in Nebraska's spring camp. Witt served as the primary backup to senior Joe Ganz last season.

Witt appeared in five games last season, completing 6 of 8 passes for 48 yards and rushing four times for 20 yards. Witt was 2 for 2 for eight yards and ran for a 16-yard touchdown on his only carry in mop-up duty in the Cornhuskers' 62-28 loss to Oklahoma on Nov. 1.

The 6-foot-4, 225-pound Witt is considering Duke, UCLA and Stanford. Witt has already visited Yale and Duke and one thing working in Yale's favor is that it is the only one of his potential schools where he wouldn't have to sit out a season because of the NCAA transfer rules. He will have two years of eligibility remaining.

Rising junior Brook Hart, who started the final five games of the season, heads into spring camp as Yale's starting quarterback. Hart threw for 919 yards, seven touchdowns and two interceptions as a sophomore. Rich Scudellari, Bryan Farris and Dawson Halliday are other quarterbacks on Yale's 2008 roster who are returning.

Yale will begin spring practice on Apr. 6 with the spring game set for Apr. 25 at 2 p.m. The biggest news heading into the spring outside Tom Williams preparing for his first season as the Bulldogs' coach is the move of captain Paul Rice from cornerback to linebacker to help fill the void left by the graduation of All-American Bobby Abare and Jay Pilkerton.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Rice lands at UCLA

Jerry Rice Jr., the son of the legendary NFL receiver, has committed to UCLA. Rice, a standout receiver at the Menlo School in Atherton, Calif., visited Yale's campus in the fall but chose to stay close to home where he will be a preferred walk-on for the Bruins.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Last piece in place

Tom Williams' first staff at Yale is now officially announced. The final addition was receivers coach Kefense Hynson who comes to Yale from the defunct Western Washington program.

The only holdovers are defensive line coach Duane Brooks and former defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Rick Flanders who is now the defensive backs coach.

Brian Stark and Ikaika Malloe are the new offensive and defensive coordinators respectively. Mike Sanford (tight ends/recruiting coordinator), Mike Preston (offensive line), Rod Plummer (special teams) and Doug Semones (outside linebackers) join Hynson as new additions to the Yale football family.

Yale will kick off its spring practice on Apr. 6. The 12 practice sessions allowed by the Ivy League will culminate with the annual Blue-White scrimmage on Apr. 25 from 2-4 p.m.

Although this is a blog on Yale football, as the beat writer the last time the Bulldogs played in the NCAA men's hockey tournament has me in a reflective mood.

The assignment to cover the Yale hockey team in the 1997-98 was the first time I covered a beat where I traveled out of state on a regular basis. It was an amazing season. The Bulldogs finished 10th in the ECAC the previous season and to the astonishment of just about everything, they won the ECAC regular-season title. Leading the way was the impressive trio of forward Jeff Hamilton, defenseman Ray Giroux and goaltender Alex Westlund. Joining Giroux as seniors playing pivotal roles was Daryl Jones (his partner on defense), Matt Cumming (who played on the top scoring line along with Hamilton and Jeff Brow) and Brad Dunlap, who teamed with Cory Shea to form a dynamic 1-2 checking tandem. Add in role players like Keith McCullough, Francois Magnant, Ben Stafford (the only freshman to play a regular role) and so many other key players. The chemistry was probably the thing I best remember about the team as well as the heart-stopping ECAC quarterfinal series against St. Lawrence at Ingalls Rink.

I find it ironic that Yale went to Ann Arbor, Michigan for the 1998 tournametn and Michigan finds itself coming to Bridgeport as the top seed in the same region where Yale is the No. 2 seed. Yale lost its NCAA opener to Ohio State. The Bulldogs' fate seemed to be sealed when Hamilton suffered a season-ending shoulder injury following a hit by Princeton's Syl Apps in the ECAC semifinals in Lake Placid, N.Y.

Although I will be unable to attend the regional in Bridgeport because I will be in Trenton, N.J. as part of my UConn women's basketball coverage. If my hotel does not have ESPNU, it's a safe bet I will find a place near the hotel to watch some of the game.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Emotional times

When I sat down with Yale football coach Tom Williams in January, one of the questions I asked him was whether any of his former players were playing in the Super Bowl. The first name to come out of his mouth as a potential member of the eventual Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers was Marquis Cooper.

As a fan of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers since the mid-1980s when I lived in Florida, I only knew the name because I recall that he was a third round pick of the Bucs a few years back. Unfortunately, for all the wrong reasons I have found out so much about Marquis Cooper in the last few days. Cooper, who played for the Oakland Raiders after two stints with Pittsburgh in 2007, is one of three people and two NFL players still missing after Cooper's 21-foot boat capsized during a fishing trip in the Gulf of Mexico over the weekend.

I spoke to Williams this afternoon about Cooper who he coached for two years at the University of Washington and then was reunited with in 2007 when Cooper played for the Jacksonville Jaguars in between his tours of duty with Pittsburgh.

There will be a story in Wednesday's edition of the Register about Williams' recollection of Cooper whose attitude and infectious personality made him one of the favorite players Williams has coached.

Jauron on ballot

Former Yale running back Dick Jauron, the 1972 Bushnell Cup winner as the Ivy League MVP, is one of 76 players is one of 76 players on the 2009 College Football Hall of Fame ballot.

Jauron ran for a then school record 2,945 from 1970-72 and was the first Bulldog to win the Bushnell Cup.

Jauron just completed his third season as the head coach of the Buffalo Bills, posting his third straight 7-9 record. Jauron has a 57-76 record in nine seasons as an NFL head coach.
Ballots are going out this week to more than 12,000 National Football Foundation members and current Hall of Famers. The results of the voting will be submitted to the NFF Honors Court which will select the Hall of Fame class. The Class of 2009 honorees will be announced on April 30.