2005 Bears' Football Preview
April 15, 2005
Providence, RI - If the number of returning starters and All-Ivy players to the lineup is any indication of potential success, coach Phil Estes' 2005 Brown football team will have the tools to make a legitimate run at the Ivy League championship. After fielding a young team with raw talent a year ago, the Bears return of nine All-Ivy players - five on offense, three on defense and one special teams - and 18 of 24 starters overall (eight offense, eight defense, two special teams- kicker and punter).
Estes returns three of the top skill people in the Ivy League, beginning with senior All-American and Walter Payton Award candidate Nick Hartigan, the Bears tailback who established new Brown records for points (102) and touchdowns (17) in a season a year ago, and needs just over 500 yards to become Brown's all-time career rushing leader.
Carrying the offensive load for the last two seasons, Hartigan is a two-time first team All-Ivy and All-New England selection. He rushed for 1,263 yards in 2004, the second best rushing performance in Brown history, running for 100 or more yards six times, including a season high 179 yards and four touchdowns against Columbia. Hartigan ran for a school record 1,498 yards in 2003,and is one of only three Brown players to rush for 1,000 or more yards in a season.
Hartigan's 2,761 career rushing yards are 15th best in the Ivy League record book and third in Brown football history. In 2004, Hartigan set a new school record for carries in a season (323), second most in Ivy League history.
An exemplary student-athlete, Hartigan is also a First Team CoSIDA Academic All-American, posting a 3.87 GPA in Political Science.
Estes also expects sophomores Akin Oyalowo and Brandon Markey to get more carries at tailback. Oyalowo powered his way to 106 yards on 26 carries as a first year player, while Markey ran for 18 yards, and returned both kickoffs (15 returns, 306 yards) and punts (19 returns, 142 yards) for the Bears.
The Bears return senior starting fullback Max Tornatore, who is used primarily as a crushing blocking back, and senior fullback Carson Brennan (8 catches, 145 yards, 1 TD), who saw action primarily in passing situations.
Brown's receiving corps may be the strongest in the Ivy League with return of two All-Ivy players - senior first team All-Ivy Jarrett Schreck, the league leader in receiving yards, and junior second team All-Ivy Lonnie Hill, the league's leader in receptions two years ago. Add second team All-Ivy tight end David Turner to the mix and the Bears have a formidable pass-catching group.
Schreck led the Ivy League and ranked 7th nationally in receiving with 103.50 yards per game. His 1,035 receiving yards ranked sixth best in Brown football history. Schreck's 873 yards in seven league games also led the Ivy League. His 1,659 career receiving yards rank fourth in the Brown record book, while his 111 career receptions are fifth in the Bears' record book. Hill took the fall 2004 semester off from school, but returns to the gridiron after a spectacular 2003 season, where he led the Ivy League and ranked third nationally in receptions with 7.6 per game, making 76 catches. He was named the Ivy League and ECAC Offensive Player of the Week and won the Boston Globe/NE Football Writers Gold Helmet Award after making 12 catches for 186 yards against Yale. Hill's four touchdown receptions vs. Yale tied a Brown and Ivy League record (Steve Campbell vs. Penn in 2000).
Brown's receiving corps also features sophomore Paul Raymond, who was named the Ivy League Player of the Week after making seven catches for 196 yards against Princeton. Senior Efren Blackledge made 14 receptions for 146 yards a year ago, while junior Tom Balestracci grabbed nine passes.
Turner had a breakout year at tight end, making 25 catches for 339 yards. He opened the season with 136 receiving yards against Albany, hauling in two touchdown passes. Junior Matt Krevis (5 catches, 66 yards) will also see action for the Bears at tight end.
The quarterback position probably won't be determined until Brown's opening game against Georgetown. Junior Anthony Vita earned the starting nod at quarterback midway through the 2004 season after battling junior Joe DiGiacomo, who was named the starter at the end of pre-season camp. Vita's time as the starter was short-lived after being injured midway through his second start against Penn. His first collegiate start brought stardom when he passed for 219 yards and three touchdowns in Brown's win over Cornell to earn the Boston Globe Gold Helmet Award winner as the New England Player of the Week. DiGiacomo started seven games for the Bears, throwing for 1,514 yards and four touchdowns. He passed for 313 yards against Harvard, including an 83-yard completion, the second longest pass play in Brown history.
Brown's offensive line lost four players to graduation, but return second team All-Ivy guard Alex Jury, a two-year starter, who helped block for the Bears' 1,478 yards on the ground, second best in the Ivy League, and 361.8 yards per game in total offense, third best in the league. Junior Alex Doty, senior Mickey Cooper, senior Noori Abdul-Ghani, junior Blake Trocki and junior Evan Barbosa all saw significant playing time a year ago and should be ready to step into starting roles. Junior Mike DeBartolo and sophomore AJ Tracey are also in the mix to fill starting roles.
Brown's defense ranked second in the Ivy League a year ago (316.4 yards per game) and will be led by first team All-Ivy and All-New England selection junior linebacker Zak DeOssie, the Ivy League's fourth leading tackler with 98 total tackles, including 53 solo stops. His 80 tackles in league games ranked second among all Ivy defenders.
A Third Team All-American, DeOssie had a major effect on the success of the Brown defense, which ranked 2nd in the league in total defense, yielding 316.4 yards per game. DeOssie also had nine tackles for a loss and five quarterback sacks. DeOssie was named the Ivy League Defensive Player of the Week for his play against Yale where he made 13 total tackles, deflected Yale's first pass of the game, leading to an interception, and made an interception at the goal line to stop a Yale drive. Sophomore Frank Nuzzo (5 tackles) and junior Justin Gallagher (1 tackle) will also compete at the inside linebacker position.
At outside linebacker, senior Tim Cotter made 61 total tackles, third best on last year's team, made 4.5 tackles for a loss, and picked-off a pass for the Bears. Junior David Healey (2 tackles) was on the depth chart a year ago and made the travel squad. Sophomore Nkosi Still will look to make the switch from tailback to outside linebacker.
Senior defensive end James Frazier, a second team All-Ivy selection and the strongest member of the Brown team, led the Ivy League with 14 tackles for a loss of 61 yards, and was second in the Ivy League with nine quarterback sacks. He ranked fifth on last year's team with 51 total tackles (24 solo, 27 assists). Frazier registered a season high 10 tackles against Cornell, and had three quarterback sacks against Harvard. Senior Steve Storrs (27 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss) and junior Casey Dougan (15 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss) shared starting duties at the other defensive end position.
At tackle, seniors Pat Curran and Greg Burlin are coming off solid seasons as starters. Curran's 42 tackles were eighth on last year's team. He also made 7.5 tackles for a loss. Burlin registered 14 total tackles and 2.5 tackles for a loss. Look for sophomore Patrick Fisher (2 tackles) to see more playing time in 2005.
In the secondary, senior Jamie Gasparella, also a second team All-Ivy choice, emerged as one of the top cover corners in the Ivy League, making 58 total tackles, including 53 in Ivy League games. He picked off two passes against Penn, returning one for 30 yards, and had a season high eight tackles against Dartmouth. Junior Gavin Logan started at the other corner for the Bears, along with senior Rashad Collins. Logan made 39 tackles and broke-up four passes, while Collins made 18 tackles and intercepted two passes.
Estes will look to senior Matt Hostetler to move from quarterback to fill the free safety position. Look for sophomore Adjatay Nyadjroh (8 tackles), junior Justin Amoah (2 tackles), sophomore Jose Yearwood (2 tackles) and sophomore Matt Mullenax to battle for playing time in the secondary.
Sophomore Steve Morgan was the Ivy League Rookie of the Year in 2004, handling both the place-kicking and punting duties for the Bears. He became the third player in Brown football history to be named the Ivy League Rookie of the Year, following Sean Morey (1995) and Chas Gessner (1999). A three-time Ivy Rookie of the Week, Morgan connected on 13 of 19 field goals, just one short of the all-time Brown record of 14 held by Bob Warden in 1994. His 65 points are the most ever by a Brown kicker, and rank 12th in the Ivy League record book for kick-scoring.
Morgan ranked 10th nationally in field goals per game, and kicked more field goals in 2004 than Brown converted in the previous three seasons combined. His 45-yard field goal against Fordham was his long for the year. Morgan also punted for a 36.3 yards per punt average and booted 17 punts inside the opponents' 20 yard line.