Sunday, July 26, 2015

Roster Update, Hobart Heritage, Jemison Named Preseason All American, Preseason Camp Updates & Other News

The 16th ranked Hobart College Statesmen released their 2015 roster and it seems like the success of the 2014 campaign did not go unnoticed. A large FY class as well as several interesting transfers from D3 to FCS level programs will report to preseason camp in just a couple of weeks.

The updated roster can be found here.

A look at the Class of 2019 is below (hometowns provided as listed):

#2 RB Tynard Barfield RB (Baltimore, MD)
#4 RB Joseph Barrocas (Miami, FL)
#12 CB Kiande Phillips CB (Orlando, FL)
#14 DB Sam Wheeler
#16 QB Anthony Pino
#18 QB Matt Woods (Latham, NY)
#21 WR Jake Henzes (Clarks Summit, PA)
#22 LB Bobbie Lewis (NY)
#27 FS Max Charlton (Burnt Hills, NY)
#30 LB Kiyon Brandford 
#31 CB CJ Boleware (Bronx, NY)
#32 TE Nick Forti (Enterprise, AL)
#42 CB Matt Morgante 
#45 LB Brandan Kahari (Lynn, MA)
#48 LB Aaron Louis (Stoneham, MA)
#49 LB Josh Ammon (Aldie, VA)
#50 LB Bryce Gioia (Hyde Park, NY)
#57 DE Joe DeGrood (Orchard Park, NY)
#58 DT AJ McFarlane
#65 DT Sean Moore (Bohemia, NY)
#68 OL Jonathan Koch (NYC)
#69 OL Micah Holloway
#70 OL John Deveney
#74 OL Will Eddy
#75 OL Chris Stedry
#76 OL Andrew Chait
#77 OL Patrick Cino (Holmdel, NJ)
#78 OL Nathan Webster (Corning, NY)
#79 OL Nick Marasco (Queensbury, NY)
#84 WR Malyk Daley-Pinkard (Geneva, NY)
#85 WR Brendan McCloskey
#90 DE Albert Smith
#91 DE Elijah Auringer
#93 PK Will Warne (Vancouver, WA)

These 34 student athletes make an impressive recruiting class, one that is focusing on key areas of future need (OL, RB and DL).

Bolstering this impressive FY class is a group of SO's that are either returning to the program or have transferred in from other schools, including:

#1 CB Gabe Smith (2013 D3football.com All American ST and All East DB)
#3 QB Shane Sweeney (via SUNY Albany)
#12 QB Tom Sydeski (via Stonehill College)
#96 PK Rio Schmidt (via Colby College)

Needless to say there is no shortage of incoming talent to push the upperclassmen and retuning lettermen in preseason camp.

Speaking of the roster, you may notice that certain players have similar numbers and/or returning starters have new ones. The main reason for this is a decision by the Football Program to return previously retired jerseys / numbers of HOF players back into retirement. Four jerseys / numbers had been "retired" by the Statesmen over it's 120+ history including:

#24 RB Mark Perkins '69
#33 RB Merle Gulick '30
#43 RB Don Aleksiewicz '73
#44 RB Rich Kowalski '76

The decade of the 1970's was a "golden age" for Hobart Football and a number of the alumni from that era raised concerns over the use of the retired jerseys in recent seasons. Although HC Mike Cragg did clear the initial reinstatement of the jerseys / numbers with each of the HOF players' respective families given the expanding roster over the past several seasons, it appears that going forward the Statesmen Athletics team will return these numbers back to the HOF.

Three Statesmen teams from this decade (1972-74) are recognized by the HOF as "Teams of Distinction", earning a record of 22-3-1 over that three year span. Coached by the late George Davis (see this story on Coach Davis and his life and contributions to Hobart College), these teams have some of the most active alumni and supporters of Hobart Football. You can join them every first home opener of the football season. I did last year and really enjoyed getting to know these great Statesmen, hearing and seeing (via 8mm film from the archives) the great stories and games from this era.

In the present day, the last recognition of this post will be to JR LB Marcus Jemison. In 2014 Jemison earned unanimous first team All-LL and D3football.com third All Eastern team selections. This preseason Jemison once again was cited by D3football.com as a second team All-American at LB.

A link to the All-American team can be seen here.

Finally, Hobart will open up their preseason camp on August 15th. 

I'll be back later this week to further analyze the recruiting class, among other news.

Thanks for reading and go 'Bart!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Connetquot's Sean Moore Commits to Statesmen

Sports Newsday (Long Island, NY) reports that Connetquot HS SR DL Sean Moore (Bohemia, NY) will attend and play football at Hobart College. A two time All State player (tough to do at any level of HSFB), Moore shows a knack for stuffing gaps and causing turnovers. He also played OG and could be looked as a FB/HB depending on how the coaching staff decides to utilize him.

He's stocky at 6'1 260 lbs, but certainly has the first step and technique to be a successful D3FB player for the Statesmen. While not likely to see significant varsity time as a FY, Moore seems to have the skill set that could get him playing time in future seasons.

His highlight reel can be seen here.

Please join me in welcoming Sean into the Hobart Football family!

Thanks for reading and go 'Bart!


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Sweet 16 (Sort Of)

Yesterday the Hobart College Football program received two #16 rankings in the annual D3football.com and Sporting News Top 25 preseason polls. A link to the HWS SID announcement of this news can be found here.

My initial reaction to this ranking was mostly positive. I had been texting with my "In The HuddLLe" co-host, friend and Top 25 pollster Frank Rossi on Monday and we both predicted the Statesmen would end up in the 15-17 range. What's interesting to note is that after the 12-1 run and Elite 8 appearance in the 2012 season Hobart came into the 2013 preseason ranked 7th in the D3football.com poll.

The difference with 2015 is probably due to the fact that pollsters noted the following:

- Both offensive and defensive coordinators moving on;
- Losses to graduation of a large number of key players including two all time D3FB greats in Ali Marpet and Tyre Coleman;
- Only four returning offensive starters (albeit several reserves had significant PT throughout 2014);
- Only four home games; and
- Anything past the Top 6 or 7 is usually a total crap shoot (thus regional and other biases come into play causing broad ranges of where teams can sit and how the averages / points work out)

While the above is certainly plausible, it's mostly speculation on my part. The fact that Saint Lawrence returns a lot of the same players from the 2014 team that almost took the Liberty League (LL) crown away from the Statesmen is also in the back of the pollsters minds too. What they probably forget is that SLU game had five turnovers (not all forced) which certainly kept the Saints in the game. Without a couple of those, Hobart still wins that game, but likely by 7-14+ points.

Regardless, the ranking in and of itself is a sign of respect that Statesmen program has solidified itself in the upper echelon of D3FB. Only one other East Region team made it in the Top 25 above Hobart (#5 Wesley is typically regarded as a "South Region" team by the NCAA even though DE isn't exactly VA) which is saying something. That said it's also a sign of some skepticism on another Elite 8 (or better) run which I'm sure the team will use to motivate themselves in the upcoming season.

Either way, the bull's eye is once again on Hobart as four time defending LL champions. Preseason camp is about 30 days away now so the summer will once again give way to the weight of great hopes and expectations by fans, alums, players and coaches soon enough.

More recruiting news coming soon, thanks for reading and go 'Bart!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

2015 Hobart QB Competition Will Be An "Arms Race"

The Hobart College Statesmen Football team has had many memorable offensive generals over the past 20 seasons including greats like Greg Helmer '97, Dan Birdsall '01, Craig Swanson '04, Shawn Mizro '07, Nick Strang '13 and most recently Patrick Conlan '15, who finished his career with a 22-2 record as starting QB.

This fall several Statesmen will look to etch their names in the record books by competing for arguably the most difficult position on the field. Thanks to the coaching and recruiting prowess of HC Mike Cragg and OC Jon Drach the open starting QB job for Hobart will be one of the most talked about competitions of camp, if not the East Region.

Returning from the 2014 season are some familiar faces:

SR Co-Captain Parker Thelander has patiently waited for this opportunity while being one of the best special teams players in the Liberty League (LL). He knows the playbook and his experience, leadership and understanding of the offense certainly puts him in prime position going into preseason camp.

JR QB Dillion Russo also knows the Hobart system after two years on the team.

SO QB Adam Wallerstein impressed fellow players and coaches in spring practices.

Most D3FB programs would be happy (and lucky) to have three young men like these coming back. What makes Hobart, now a consistent Top 10-15 program in the nation an exception, is it's ability to attract other top student athletes from upper division programs. In this case a couple of interesting developments in the off-season have added intrigue to the Statesmen "Arms Race" namely:

SO QB Thomas Sydeski decided to return to Upstate NY and transferred to Hobart after attending Stonehill College (D2) outside of Boston, MA the last two years. A Brockport, NY native, Tom reminds me of Nick Strang '13 based on his build (6'5" 215 lbs) and ability to make plays.

Sydeski led Brockport HS to a 16-2 record over his JR and SR seasons, setting school records for passing yards (4,018) and TDs (48) over that time period. He earned All County and Player of the Year honors for his accomplishments. You can check out his HS highlights here.

Sydeski appeared in five games for Stonehill at QB in 2014 after effectively red-shirting his FY. You can see from the Sky Hawks highlights Sydeski has a strong arm which helped him average 233.2 YPG which speaks for itself. The one area Tom will need to work to improve upon is lowering his turnover ratio. He had a couple of rough outings at Stonehill where he threw for three and four interceptions, respectively, against the University of New Haven and So. CT State.

The other big news coming out of the Finger Lakes happened last week when former SUNY-Albany and now SO QB Shane Sweeney decided to "come home" and transfer to Hobart. A Geneva, NY native, Sweeney was heavily recruited by Hobart but took a football scholarship opportunity with the Great Danes program after graduating from GHS in 2013. He lit up the scoreboard for the Panthers his SR season passing for 2,005 yards and leading the team to several Section V accolades.

Apparently after a coaching change at Albany left Sweeney caught in transition he contacted Coach Cragg. A link to the Finger Lakes Times report and Coach's comments on the story can be found here. A few highlights of Sweeney's work at Albany can be seen here.

All in all it's a very exciting time to be a Hobart Football fan.

While certainly a running team "at heart," this amount of QB power combined with a talented receiver corp that includes players like SR WR Cooper Merrill, JR WR Jack Pfohl, JR WR Sean Cunningham (who played with Sweeney at GHS) and SO WR Brandon Shed, to name just a few, makes Hobart a legitimate threat to call a few "air strikes" on opposing defensive secondaries this fall.

Thanks for reading and go 'Bart!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Lindy's Preseason Poll Snubs Statesmen, Picks SLU

Lindy's recently releasing it's 2015 CFB preseason poll is hardly news. Their accuracy of coverage is average at best, especially compared to other publications like D3football.com.

As a Hobart fan however what's noticeable about this year's edition of Lindy's preseason rankings is that four time LL champion and NCAA Elite 8 participant Hobart wasn't included. A team that's returning a good amount of defensive firepower was also overlooked as not a single Statesman, on offense or otherwise, made the preseason Lindy's All-American roster either. For the record I do think we'll see the Statesmen in the D3football.com preseason Top 25, probably in the 14-19 range given the graduations of players like Tyre Coleman, Ali Marpet, DeAndre' Smith and Dominique Ellis.

LL runners up Saint Lawrence (8-2, 6-1) apparently are their favorite to supplant Hobart at the top of the league this fall earning a #15 ranking in the Lindy's poll. The Saints were certainly pleased by this development based on this press release.

To their credit, I have no doubt that the Saints will once again challenge and possibly earn back the LL title for the first time since 2010. SLU brings back a loaded defense with arguably the best secondary and special teams players in the LL, if not the entire East Region. The big question for them, which the Lindy's pollsters apparently overlooked, is if 5th year QB Mike Lefflbine who led the LL in passing yards and TDs, can improve the Saints scoring offense which ranked 6th in the LL at only 21.2 PPG? The Saints have a strong arsenal of offensive players, but it's hard (for me anyway) to gauge them without knowing if Lefflbine can and will improve that offense in 2015.

Regardless, I hope the Hobart coaches and players make note of this "slight" as they work this summer. Preseason camp is only a month or so away and the best part of D3FB is we prove it on the field, not in the polls, for a chance a National Championship.

I hope everyone had a wonderful and safe Independence Day weekend.

Thanks for reading and go 'Bart!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Wilbraham's MVP Aaron Louis to Attend Hobart

Wilbraham & Monson Academy (MA) has indicated that PG RB/ILB Aaron Louis will attend Hobart this fall as part of the Class of 2019. Although he struggled with injuries, Louis was named MVP for the 2014 campaign given his selfless play and leadership. Louis tallied over 100 tackles in only 8 games for the Titans.

Although he was recruited by several FCS level schools in New England, Louis also drew D3 interest from Hobart rival Springfield given it's proximity to WMA.

Louis sounds like a very competitive player, as this interview shows. It sounds like Louis has a big upside, and if he can stay healthy, have an impact on the Statesmen program.

Please join me in welcoming Aaron to the Hobart Football family. Thanks for reading and go 'Bart!


Monday, June 22, 2015

Notre Dame's Deveney Signs With Statesmen

Notre Dame HS (Lawrenceville, NJ) SR DL John Deveney has committed to attend Hobart this fall. A versatile athlete, Deveney starred at DE for the Irish. He shows good technique in both interior line play and rushing the passer. On offense he played OT and also lined up at a FB / HB position.

A threat to block passes (and kicks) given his height of 6'5", Deveney has a lot of potential in my opinion. He has good size at 265 lbs and could be utilized in several different areas of the Statesmen game plan in future seasons.

A link to his highlight reel can be viewed here.

A big Hobart welcome to John. Thanks for reading and go 'Bart!