So unless you have been deserted in the south pacific from a oceanic plane crash, you probably know all about Jeremy Lin. As a Knicks fan, I am absolutely loving it right now and was up to 4:00am last night while (in the words of Spike Lee) "Kobe Wuz Smokun' But I wasn't Joke-Lin". Now I haven't paid attention to the Ivy League at all this year, last year or any year really. So with the Harvard man tearing up New York right now, I thought about the possibility that the Jets could add a Ivy league star of their own.
At the moment I believe there are 6 Ivy League players in the NFL. Ryan Fitzpatrick and Matt Birk being the obvious two that stand out. Fitzpatrick the QB from Buffalo and Matt Birk the centre from Baltimore. It's a terribly small number of players, so the odds are already against you. However it doesn't mean that you shouldn't consider these guys, intelligence and athletic ability are no longer polar opposites.
So saying this, lets have a quick look at some of the players that could be the next Ivy League football star.
Forgive me for not going into much detail but as mentioned I don't pay a great deal of attention to Ivy League schools when it comes to football. I might read their thesis papers if I'm feeling a little Sheldon Cooper.
Now maybe only one or two of these guys will actually get drafted come April, but if this does nothing else than put some names out there then it's been worth researching.
First guy up is Jeff Adams from Columbia University, an offensive tackle who is rated as the 22nd best Offensive Tackle by NFL Draft Scout. A 3 Time all Ivy League first team player. He played in the East-West All Star Shrine game and I heard some positive things about him. Columbia had an absolutely terrible year this year but Jeff Adams seems to be the one star. He's 6'7 and 305lb's who specialises in run blocking rather than pass protection. Jeff will be working out at either Rutgers or Northwestern and has made it clear that he is working on building his strength before the 2012 draft.
Harvard went undefeated in 2011 so to be named the team MVP for the Crimson is a good accomplishment and that's just what defensive end Josue Ortiz did. He led the Ivy conference with 10 sacks and I can actually show you some highlights of Ortiz.
Dartmouth don't produce a ton of talented football players but they may well produce one this year with Shawn Abuhoff receiving rave reviews through the season. He was a first team all american return specialist in 2010 by The Sports Network, won the college football performance award for his returning ability. 45 tackles and 4 interceptions as a junior defensive back. 12 interceptions in four years at Dartmouth, not the biggest guy at 5-10 and 190lb's but he has some moves in the return game.
Daniel Smithwick from Brown is a very undersized outside linebacker from the Brown Bears, looking into his football history it looks like he knows where to locate the football. He was a two time Ivy League defensive player of the week in 2011 with his performances against Princeton and Penn. His problem is that he is 5-10 and only 190lb's which is tiny in the NFL. He can't do much about his height but if he adds a little weight and muscle, perhaps safety is his position. I don't think Smithwick will make it in the NFL but I do like what I have read about him and if he doesn't, well he has that economics and political philosophy degree to fall back on.
Patrick Witt from Yale is a player that I think stands a real chance of making it in the NFL, following the similar pattern of Ryan Fitzpatrick. He's a Quarterback who transferred from Nebraska. He stands at 6-4 and 230lb's so ideal QB frame. He was the only player in the league to complete 60% of his passes in 2010, threw for 2216 yards as a Junior and 2368 yards as a senior. Owns the school record for completions, yards and completion percentage and is second in touchdown passes thrown with 37.
Nick Schwieger the Dartmouth tailback is also worth taking a look at, a 5-10, 210lb first team all ivy league selection for the third year running. He had eight 100 yard games in 2011. He averaged 131 yards a game this year and racked up 1429 all purpose yards. Had 14 touchdowns in 2010 and had 125.9 yards per game, winner of the IVY leagues most valuable player award.
Greg Van Roten an offensive lineman for Penn is also a senior and was named to the All Ivy First team this year. Penn doesn't do a great deal right but after researching them it seems that offensive line play is something that they do do right. At 6-4 and around 295lb's he is a little on the smaller side for an offensive tackle in the NFL. Very durable though, he started all 30 games over his final three years. Penn Quakers finished with the 6th best rushing attack in the nation in 2010, and a lot of it comes down to the offensive line play.
Matthew Hanson from Harvard is also a player that some might want to research a little more. A 6-1, 190lb defensive back who led the Ivy League with 10 passes defended in 2011. Another first team all Ivy League selection. He had 7 pass break ups as a Junior and 10 as a senior so 17 in two years is quite impressive. Needs to add more muscle but he obviously does a good job locating the football and making a play on it.
We need a tight end on this list, so I'm going with a guy who by all accounts is a great blocker who has reliable if not often used hands. John Gallagher was the first team Ivy League tight end representation this year, playing his football at Dartmouth he had rave reviews about his blocking ability, he managed to pull down 58 receptions in his three year career for 4 touchdowns.
Finally I'm going to pop a kicker up with a 9 minute highlight video. Who would have thought it. Brad Greenway from Cornell university, making 13 of 15 field goals in 2011 and all 36 extra points. I don't particularly think he has a future in the NFL but any kicker who has a 9 minute video is good for my time.
A lot of you will be thinking, most of these guys will never make it in the NFL, and you are probably right but what's the harm in looking. Sometimes an Ivy League player can really surprise you and you are hardly ever going to have to give up a premium to bring them in to work out. There are some players in here though that I think stand a real chance. Jeff Adams, Josue Ortiz and Patrick Witt being the main ones
If these don't interest you and the Jets don't look towards Ivy league players at least you'll be able to flash some knowledge to your friends about potential Jeremy Lin's in the NFL world.