Following a third place finish in the Ivy standings a year ago, head coach Phil Estes, who led the Bears to Ivy titles in 1999, 2005 and 2008, believes the 2010 Brown football team is ready to contend for the Ivy League title once again with the return of four All-Ivy players and several more experienced veterans.
While the Bears' offense graduated two of the finest wide receivers in Ivy football history in Buddy Farnham and Bobby Sewall, along with three All-Ivy linemen, Estes returns first team All-Ivy quarterback Kyle Newhall-Caballero, and looks forward to developing a cadre of wide receivers for the record-setting quarterback.
Newhall-Caballero, who is also an Academic All-American, directed the Ivy League's top passing offense and etched his name into the Brown and Ivy record book after completing 259 of 413 passes for 2,709 yards and 18 touchdowns. He ranked second in the nation in completions (25.9 per game), 10th in total offense (281.4 yards per game), and 12th nationally in passing yards (270.9 yards per game). His 259 completions rank seventh for a single season in the Ivy football history. Newhall-Caballero also set an Ivy League record with 46 completions against Holy Cross.
Senior Matt Sudfeld and juniors Alex Tounkara and Jimmy Saros are the presumptive heirs to Brown's wide receiver dynasty. Sudfield is Brown's top returning receiver after making nine receptions for 205 yards and a 20-yard touchdown reception. Saros came through with seven receptions for 43 yards in 2010. Tounkara missed most of last season due to injury, but will look to parlay his 6-4 frame into a decided advantage. Sophomore Vincent Tumbleson and junior Jonah Fay should also challenge for a starting role.
Senior tight end Alex Prestley runs exceptionally well and was able to catch 14 balls for 146 yards and a touchdown a year ago. Junior Nicholas Faber will challenge Prestley for playing time at tight end.
The Bears are looking to overcome some injuries at running back after running for more than 1,200 yards as a team. Headlining the Brown tailbacks is second team All-Ivy Zack Tronti, who was the Ivy League's second leading rusher with 70.2 yards per game (564 yards), before he was injured in the second quarter against Yale and missed the remainder of the season. He ran for 126 yards on 29 carries vs. Princeton, and came back vs. Cornell and ran for a career best 134 yards, including 104 in the second half.
Adding to the Bears' depth at running back are sophomores Mark Kachmer (14 yards rushing), Jordan Morrison, and Jeffrey Izon, along with seniors Daniel Ball and Marc Howland. The Bears also have a slew of fullbacks to add to the mix, led by sophomore Jackson Freeman, along with juniors Sean Burns, and Kasey McCurdy.
Offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Frank Sheehan returns two starters to the Ivy League's top offensive unit (396.6 total yards per game) that graduated three All-Ivy players. Senior tri-captain Patrick Conroy, a two-year starter, returns to anchor the left side of the Bears offensive line at tackle. Senior Brian Ellixson returns to a starting role and will look to steady the right side at guard, while having the versatility to take snaps at center. Sheehan will look to get major contributions from senior tackle John Cook, who played in six games a year ago, and junior guards Luke Landers and Evan Johnson. In the middle of the trenches, junior Jack Geiger and sophomore Matt Miller will compete at center.
Defensive coordinator Mike Kelleher will also look to fill some holes on defense, where five All-Ivy players graduated.
Second team All-Ivy sophomore corner back AJ Cruz, Brown's third leading defender with 57 total tackles, made a huge impact as a first year player for the Bears' defense, and ranked 14th in the nation with 1.3 passes defended per game. Senior Russell Leedy saw considerable time at nickel and corner last season, intercepting a pass, and making 15 total tackles, while junior Aaron Ruffin and junior Mel Farr are also expected to see action at corner.
The safety position is wide open with senior Steve Peyton (six tackles and a fumble recovery) having the inside track. Junior Patrick Pakan made the transition from quarterback to the defensive backfield a year ago, and should vie for one of the secondary positions, along with senior Tyler Collins (four tackles).
Senior tri-captain and inside linebacker Andrew Serrano made 32 tackles a year ago and is Brown's second leading returning tackler. He also had two tackles for a loss and a quarterback sack.
Senior Robert Gillett also returns to buoy the Bears' defense at outside linebacker after making 32 tackles, four for a loss, and intercepting a pass in 2009.
Senior Phil Roffi returns as a starter at outside linebacker after making 20 tackles and two tackles for a loss last season. Competing for a starting nod at outside linebacker is senior Blaine Grinna (14 tackles), junior Shane Cooney (27 tackles) and senior Cameron Cotton (five tackles). At inside linebacker, the Bears have high hopes for Chimso Okoji (five tackles), who was Brown's defensive MVP in the spring. Juniors Matt O'Donnell and Brett Wyman will also battle for playing time.
The Bears' biggest losses came on the front line with all four seniors graduating. The good news is that several players saw action for last year's squad. Junior Joseph Rettig's 10 tackles makes him the top returnee among the defensive tackles, while senior John Anderson made eight tackles, including four tackles for a loss. The Bears' front line will welcome back junior Clay McGrath, who missed last season after making 12 tackles, including three for a loss, as a sophomore for Brown's 2008 Ivy Championship team. Also expected to see playing time on the defensive line are senior Jeremy Raducha, and sophomores Stephen Fox and Patxi Colbern.
Brown's kicking game is in good hands with the return of All-Ivy junior punter Nate Lovett, who averaged 39.9 yards per punt for the Bears, third best in the Ivy League, while also handling the kick-off duties. His 73-yard punt against Penn is the seventh longest punt in Brown football history. Sophomore Nate Meyer will handle the field goal and PAT duties.