Thursday, April 29, 2010

Column on Siedlecki's hiring

The Register's columnist Dave Solomon had a piece in today's paper about former Yale coach Jack Siedlecki being hired as the offensive coordinator at Wesleyan.


Monday, April 26, 2010

Mante invited to Bears' rookie camp

Tom Mante, Yale's all-time leader in punts, punting yardage and punting average, has been invited to the Chicago Bears rookie mini-camp.

Mante, the only player to be Yale's leading punter for four straight seasons, will leave Thursday and take part in the camp from Friday-Sunday.

"I'm absolutely ecstatic," Mante said. "I didn't dream of playing (professional football) until a couple years ago. I worked hard and this is a dream come true."

Mante will be competing against former UConn punter Desi Cullen at the rookie camp with the hope of getting invited to the Bears' training camp.

Brad Maynard, who averaged 41.6 yards per punt in 2009, is the incumbent punter for the Bears. Among those with at least 40 punts in 2009, Maynard ranked 26th in the NFL in punting average and was 18th with a 37.4 net punting average.

"They are looking for a combination punter/kickoff guy (to bring in) and that is what I am," Mante said. "I am excited to have this opportunity."


Saturday, April 24, 2010

Spring game wrap

The Yale Bowl scoreboard read Blue 28, White 0 at the end of Saturday's spring game but in reality, the scrimmage ended in a tie.

The offense, especially the first unit, completely dominated the first half while the defense rebounded quite nicely in the second half.

The first team offense scored touchdowns on its first four possessions of the first half and would have made it a perfect 5 for 5 if not for a holding call which negated a touchdown pass from Patrick Witt to Chris Smith.

Witt and Smith hooked up for touchdowns of 13 and 30 yards, Jordan Forney caught a 20-yard touchdown reception which I caught on video while Gio Christodoulou had a 91-yard reception to set up Mordecai Cargill's 1-yard touchdown run

The offense had 298 yards on 32 plays in the first half while managing just 51 yards on 17 plays in the second half.

I had Witt going 12 for 17 for 243 yards and three touchdowns and one interception. Christodoulou had two catches for 99 yards, Smith caught four passes for 95 yards and Forney had 43 yards on three receptions.

Yale went mostly with one-back sets today, something that will continue. Alex Thomas (4 carries for 46 yards) and Cargill (8 carries, 24 yards) split time with the first-team offense while Javi Sosa (14 carries, 36 yards) got all the work with the second unit.

Defensively, defensive end Cliff Foreman (four tackles, a fumble recovery and blocked punt) and linebacker Will McHale (six tackles) were the stars. Safety John Powers had an interception while defensive end Allen Davis recovered a fumbled punt by Christodoulou.

Spring games like Yale's when the offense plays against the defense always leads to the "is the glass half full or it is half empty" argument.

Witt looked great throwing the ball and with Yale planning to play Forney, Smith and Christodoulou together, I would expect a more wide-open offense than what I witnessed a year ago. On the other hand, Yale's starting secondary did not distinguish itself as the three receivers got open with relative ease. Bear in mind that the QBs weren't getting hit so it wasn't the same as a regular-season game when Witt would have been rushed more than he was on Saturday but it still was a bit surprising that the Yale secondary, featuring three returning starters, struggled as much as it did when the first team offense and defense squared off.

The other thing of note was that quarterback turned defensive back Bryan Farris was back at quarterback and was the No. 2 QB on Saturday while Dez Duron and Derek Russell got into the game in the second half. If Brook Hart gets taken in the Major League Baseball draft, which could very well happen, and opts to sign the Bulldogs will need to develop another quarterback to serve as insurance behind Witt.

Just spoke with former Yale punter Tom Mante. He said there is nothing to report but his agent is still in contact with some NFL teams and he is hopeful of getting an invite to an NFL camp.

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Friday, April 23, 2010

Look ahead to spring game

Yale wrapped up its 11th practice of the spring a couple hours ago. In preparation for Saturday's Blue-White Game, the Bulldogs practiced without pads.

It didn't stop receiver Jordan Forney from catching three touchdowns in the time I was there including a brilliant one-handed grab in the right corner of the end zone. Collin Bibb had one series where he broke up three plays and also got into it with Forney which seemed to be the emotional spark the coaches was looking for as the pace and intensity of the practice picked up after the pushing and shoving subsided.

There has been a string of injuries among the offensive linemen with Nate Blair, Nathan Burow, Alex Golubiewski and Justin Hymes all expected to be sidelined for the 2 p.m. spring game tomorrow at the Yale Bowl.

When I've been at practice, I've been impressed by the development of the freshmen and that is the focus of the story I filed for publication in Saturday's Register. Defensive tackle Chris Dooley has been the talk of the camp while Kurt Stottlemyer and fellow freshmen corners Bibb and Russell Perkins are playing well enough for the Bulldogs to move All-Ivy corner Adam Money to safety. Will McHale has played his way into a starting linebacker spot while Brian Leffler should figure into the mix at LB when he is fully recovered from a knee injury which sidelined him for the 2009 season.

After practice I caught up with 2009 Yale captain Paul Rice, who has been a volunteer assistant coach this spring. Rice worked out for the Cleveland Browns earlier this month and would love to get an invite to the team's rookie camp. If not, he is planning to join the coaching staff at Fairfield Prep in the fall.

I asked Rice his take on the development of the freshmen defensive stalwarts. Although space limitations precluded me from getting Rice's take in my story, here is what he had to say.

"Leffler and McHale will definitely push for playing time, at least in my eyes," Rice said. "Stottlemyer has gotten a lot of playing time, a lot of looks and I think he will have a good scrimmage. Dooley has had a phenomenal spring (camp), he has really opened a lot of eyes. It is a very good class. They are going to come in and do what they are supposed to do which is push for playing time and challenge the older guys.

"It’s a big jump (from being a freshman to becoming a sophomore) because you have a year of lifting, a year of film, a year of everything under your belt and now a lot more is expected out of you. It is an exciting time and these guys are up for it. You’ll see a lot of sophomores making impacts (in the fall) on special teams or even in starting roles."

I am heading that 2008 Yale football captain Bobby Abare is among the alumni expecting to return to the spring game. Although it has not been officially announced, Abare recently accepted a spot on the staff at Wesleyan after spending last season coaching at Wagner. Former Yale head coach Jack Siedlecki will be Wesleyan's offensive coordinator.

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Record-breaking day

Eveerybody involved in Thursday's bone marrow drive at Yale was hoping to top last year's mark of 704 participants, the most for the one-day campus event.

Mission accomplished.

The final totals showed 911 new entrants into the bone marrow registry, an impressive feat since anybody who took part last year did not need to fill out the paperwork and have their cheeks swabbed because they are already in the registry.

The only negative from the day was the fact that Yale women's hockey forward Mandi Schwartz was not there to witness an event which she was the inspiration for.

A year ago Schwartz was in a hospital room in her native Saskatechewan receiving reports from the inaugural event which drew a record 704 participants. Although no match was found for Schwartz at the event, she was found to be free of leukemia. Schwartz returned to Yale and was planning to resume her playing career with the Bulldogs. She was also front and center - or as much as a quiet, reserved person like her can be - in the planning stages for this year's event. Schwartz was planning to be in attendance but then she received the horrible news on Monday that the leukemia returned.

"It's a little scary going back home to get treatment again," Schwartz said on Wednesday night. "I have to miss the event but I have faith in all the students and
the community that they will come out, they will support the cause."

Schwartz's absence was clearly felt on Thursday.

"We wish she could be here with us," said Shane Bannon, a fullback on the Yale football team who was one of a host of football and women's hockey players volunteers at the drive. "She has been on the committee for the last six weeks, sending e-mails out and being really involved but she is here with us in spirit."

Schwartz had breakfast with her Yale hockey teammates Thursday morning before leaving for the airport. It goes without saying, it was an emotional morning.

"Definitely this morning is very tough for us," said Yale junior defenseman Samantha MacLean said. "We all got up at 7:45 and had breakfast with her and kind of said farewell.

"It is always difficult, especially since it was the second time around. We are all such a close team and I have grown close to Mandi the past couple of months. It is definitely hard to say goodbye to her and know what she is going through, that
she is going through a serious struggle. Right now we are kind of focusing our energies on the bone marrow drive and then we will deal with things as they come, I guess."

It will be about 4-6 weeks before it is determined whether any of the 911 new additions to the bone marrow registry are a match for leukemia patients. I asked MacLean what her reaction would be if a match was found for Schwartz.

"I would be overjoyed," MacLean said. "That would be so amazing. We didn't expect her to need a match. By the time we found out that she did. it would mean so much for us to know that Mandi has a chance to be healthy again."

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Schwartz ready to fight - again

If her fellow Yale students needed any extra motivation to turn out for the second annual bone marrow donor drive being held from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Thursday at the Yale Commons, word of Mandi Schwartz's second battle with leukemia should certainly do the trick.

Schwartz, a member of Yale's women's hockey team, was in a hospital room in her native Saskatchewan when a record 704 donor candidates turned out for the inaugural donor drive. It was the result of a partnership between Yale's women's hockey and football teams.

Schwartz beat leukemia and enrolled in classes at Yale this semester. She was planning on playing again next season with the Bulldogs and certainly was eagerly awaiting Thursday's donor drill. Instead, she will be boarding a plane to begin her trip back home to begin another round of chemotherapy around the time the first swabs are being done.

"It's a little scary going back home to get treatment again," Schwartz said Wednesday night after attending a banquet for the Yale women's hockey team. "I have to miss the event but I have faith in all the students and the community that they will come out, they will support the cause."

Needless to say, Schwartz was crushed when she found out Monday morning that the cancer returned.

"I am kind of worried about this being tougher this time because when the leukemia comes back again, it is going to be tougher to get rid of it but I know what it's like in the hospital now," Schwartz said. "I'll be ready to fight for the first
few months in order to get into remission. Then I am really looking forward to getting a transplant and recovering for good this time."

Schwartz, true to her nature, quietly broke the news of her latest battle with cancer. She didn't want Wednesday night's banquet to be all about her and it wasn't. But her teammates still celebrated the recently-completed season with a heavy heart.

"They are really sad and they are really shocked," Schwartz said. "It's a battle for me and the whole team. We are all going to fight together. They are going to support me and I am really thankful to have my team behind me."

The event will kick off at 11 a.m. and Schwartz is hoping to get reports of another record turnout.

"We encourage everybody not to be afraid to be a donor because it is not painful, it's not as bad as everybody thinks," Schwartz said.

Bone Marrow drive at Yale tomorrow

For the second straight season the Yale football team along with the women's hockey program is organizing a bone marrow donor drive in honor of Yale women's hockey player Mandi Schwartz, who is battling leukemia.

The event, which is free to the public, runs from 11-3 p.m. at the Yale Commons (corner of College and Grove Streets). Yale still holds the record with 704 people entered into the registry, a mark it is trying to top. It won't be easy because all those who took part in last year's event are already in the registry so other than moral support, there's no reason for them to register again.

Although a match for Schwartz was not found last year, there was a match for another leukemia patient from Jim Owens who took part in last year's event.

Former Yale offensive lineman Kyle Metzler has been named the tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator, replacing Mike Sanford who left after one season to take the quarterback coach/passing game coordinator job at Western Kentucky.
Metzler, a native of Lantana, Fla., started 28 games for the Bulldogs from 2000-02.

Yale updated its roster for the spring game.

The one possible issue with the numbers comes courtesy of Russell Perkins and Marcus Wallace, both in contention for starting spots in the defensive backfield. Wallace and Perkins each are listed as wearing No. 24 although Perkins was wearing No. 15 in the last practice I went to and could wear that number since the other No. 15 on the roster is receiver McConnell Smith.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Thursday's practice wrap

Caught the last hour of practice today and here are some of my impressions.

Receiver Jordan Forney had a spectacular practice catching the ball including making a catch of a ball thrown behind him that was - for a lack of a better term - very John Sheffield like. Gio Christodoulou, who missed most of last season with foot and ankle injuries, got behind the secondary for a long touchdown catch from Patrick Witt.

Yale coach Tom Williams said the Bulldogs are planning to play Forney, Christodoulou and Chris Smith together in three-receiver sets which must be music to Witt's ears. Williams is also expecting big things from rising senior tight end Chris Blohm and was raving about the offseason work done by tailbacks Alex Thomas and Mordecai Cargill. Williams said Thomas added 15 pounds of muscle in the offseason while Cargill is bigger and faster.

Another offensive player drawing his praise is rising junior lineman Jeff Fell. The offensive line has been beset by injuries with Nathan Burow and Alex Golubiewski, who combined for 14 starts in 2009, both sidelined likely for the rest of the spring. Nate Blair hurt his right knee during a one-on-one drill.

There could be some offensive line reinforcements as Carter Deutsch moves over from the defensive line while former tight ends Roy Collins and Alex Birks are making the transition to offensive tackle.

Adam Money is moving from cornerback to safety with Kurt Stottlemyer, Collin Bibb and Russell Perkins among the leading candidates to start at corner across from Drew Baldwin. Austin Pulsipher moved from linebacker to defensive end and is vying for a starting job as the Bulldogs transition from a 3-4 to a 4-3 defense. Former safeties Jesse Reising and John Pagliaro are now linebackers and Reising would be on the two-deep chart if the season began tomorrow.

Yale seemed to have a plethora of defensive linemen so a move to the 4-3 makes sense. A player to watch is rising sophomore Chris Dooley who will likely move inside. Junior to be Jake Stoller seems to have put his shoulder issues which hindered his last two seasons behind him and could emerge into another impact player on the defensive line. With Pat Moran injured and captain Tom McCarthy taking the spring off so he can take advantage of a fifth year of eligibility in the fall out of the lineup, rising stars like Stoller, Dooley and Charles Holmes are getting plenty of chances to shine.

There have been some defections as fullback Josh Kozel and receiver Chris Morris are no longer with the team and receiver Peter Balsam is taking next year off but is planning to return for his senior season in 2011.

Also, former Oklahoma assistant recruiting coordinator David White is not joining the Yale staff. Don't know all the details but somewhere between being recommended for the tight ends coach/recruiting coordinator gig by Williams and getting the job, there was a snafu. A replacement for Mike Sanford, who left to become quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator at Western Kentucky, could be announced by the April 24 spring game.

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Saturday, April 10, 2010

More on two transfers

Here's a link to the story on tight end Trevor Peterson and punter Greg Carlsen, who will be joining the Yale football team in the fall. Peterson was ranked among the top 40 tight ends nationally coming out of high and spent last season redshirting at Boise State while Carlsen attended Florida but did not play football for the Gators.

Also a note that might be of interest to Yale sports fans, the newest reporter at Channel 30, the local NBC affiliate, is former Yale guard Brynn Gingras who I remember seeing play when she was either a freshman or sophomore at Lyman Hall.

For those who haven't heard, the second annual bone marrow donor drive will be held on April 22. It was organized last year as a way of paying tribute to Mandi Schwartz, a member of the Yale women's hockey team, who had to leave school to fight her battle with leukemia. Schwartz won that fight, is back in school and will be on hand for the event

Monday, April 05, 2010

No practice today

Yale was supposed to kick off its spring practice schedule today at 4 p.m. but received word that there will be no practice. I was not given an explanation but the opening practice will now be held on Tuesday beginning at 4 p.m. The next three Wednesdays are built in makeup days so there won't be a problem for the Yale staff to get its 12 practices (including the April 24 spring game) in.

As was the case last year, I won't be providing coverage at the start of spring camp because I am covering the UConn women's basketball team at the Final Four in San Antonio. I won't be back home until Wednesday and then have an assignment covering the WNBA draft the following day.

Now for some news people have been inquiring about, the identies of the two transfers. One is Trevor Peterson, a tight end who is transferring to Yale from Boise State and the other is punter Greg Carlsen, who attended Florida but was not a member of the Gators' squad.

Peterson was the No. 39 ranking tight end nationally coming out of El Dorado High School in Placentia, Calif. according to the database. also reported that he was offered by San Diego State, Cal-Davis, Utah and Harvard with Oregon and Washington listed as other schools expressing an interest in the 6-foot-4, 225-pound Peterson. Peterson redshirted in 2009 and my understanding is that he will have four years of eligibility.

Carlsen is a potential two-sport athlete who was first in contact with the Yale baseball staff. He was told that they don't often take transfers unless they have four years of eligibility and Carlsen is expected to only have three years with the Bulldogs. When I spoke with Carlsen on Sunday, he said the combination of the education opportunities available at Yale and the chance to compete for the starting punting job with the graduation of All-Ivy League punter Tom Mante was intriguing to him. He also said he is considering playing baseball as well at Yale but has not spoken with Yale baseball coach John Stuper recently.

Both Peterson and Carlsen have been accepted at Yale but neither will be able to take part in spring practice.

I will leave you today with a link to a story the Register's columnist Dave Solomon did on Yale quarterback Brook Hart, who joined the baseball team and has made an immediate impact. Hart will not be taking part in spring football practice but will be a member of the football squad in the fall.

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