2016 Ivy League Preview

By CRAIG HALEY

STATS FCS Senior Editor

(STATS) - An Ivy League-record 24 players were spread across rosters when NFL camps opened this summer.

There is no hiding the Ivies draw excellent high school talent that is attracted to the academics as well as the athletics.

"It's tremendous for the league," said Harvard coach Tim Murphy, whose program produced 10 of the players.

"To have 24 guys in the league, or at least competing for spots in the league, I think is reflective of the great job that so many different coaches and coaching staffs have done in the league. I know when we came into the league in, wow, 1993, there were very few players in the league who were getting the opportunity to go to the next level. And I think it's a reflection of the really good job that we've done recruiting nationally. I'm talking about 'we' as a league. And I think it's a reflection of kids today are really understanding that you can have a great Division I football experience in the Ivy league and have a great balance between athletics (and academics)."

Ivy teams have been chasing Harvard in recent years - four of Murphy's nine league titles have come in the last five seasons - but the league's widespread title suggests this could be one of the better title races.

Dartmouth and Penn caught up to Harvard last year, sharing the league title with the Crimson in the first three-way championship tie since 1982. While all three suffered significant graduation losses, Yale, Princeton and Brown return experienced squads - each capable of being in the title race come November.

Out of those five opponents, Harvard only gets archrival Yale at home. The rest come on the road.

Following is a team-by-team breakdown of the 2016 Ivy League race and STATS' predicted order of finish:

1. Penn

2. Harvard

3. Princeton

4. Dartmouth

5. Yale

6. Brown

7. Columbia

8. Cornell

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TEAM CAPSULES

1. PENN QUAKERS

LOCATION: Philadelphia

STADIUM: Franklin Field

COACH: Ray Priore (7-3 in one season at Penn)

LAST SEASON: 7-3 overall, 6-1 Ivy League (Tie/1st)

STARTERS RETURNING: 12 (7 offense/5 defense)

THREE KEY LOSSES: Ryan O'Malley, TE; Tanner Thexton, OL; Tyler Drake, LB

ONE TO WATCH ON OFFENSE: Justin Watson, WR, Jr. (74 receptions, 1,082 yards, 9 TDs)

ONE TO WATCH ON DEFENSE: Donald Panciello, LB, Sr. (61 TT, 7 TFL, 1 sack, 2 PBU, 1 FR, 1 BK)

OTHER KEY PLAYERS: Alek Torgersen, QB, Sr.; Tre Solomon, RB, Jr.; Brian Schoenauer, RB, Sr.; Christian Pearson, WR, So.; Nicholas Bokun, TE, Jr.; Nick Demes, OL, Sr.; Tayler Hendrickson, DL, Jr.; Louis Vecchio, DE, Jr.; Brandon Mills, LB, Jr.; Colton Moskal, LB, Jr.; Matt Henderson, LB, Sr.; Sam Philippi, DB, So.; Mason Williams, DB, So.; Hunter Kelley, P, Jr.

OUTLOOK: Penn has the most returning starters (12) among last year's three champions. With it comes an explosive offense. QB Torgersen (163-for-236, 1,996 yards, 19 TDs, 3 INTs) has put up big numbers for two seasons and his favorite receiver, Watson, should put fear into every defense in the league. There will be a superb running games as well with the return of RBs Schoenauer (652 yards, 6 TDs) and Solomon (453 yards, 7 TDs). The defense was good, not great a year ago and needs to overcome the loss of Drake, the 2015 Ivy defensive player in the year. Panciello wreaked havoc alongside Drake, so he is ready for a bigger role as a senior. The secondary was inconsistent, but it returns a lot of the key players, which suggests improvement. It helps the Quakers to have a full season under last year's two coordinators, John Reagan (offensive) and Bob Benson (defensive). Harvard has to come to Franklin Field on Nov. 12.

SCHEDULE:

Sept. 17, Lehigh

Sept. 24, at Fordham

Oct. 1, at Dartmouth*

Oct. 8, Central Connecticut State

Oct. 15, Columbia*

Oct. 22, at Yale*

Oct. 29, Brown*

Nov. 5, at Princeton*

Nov. 12, Harvard*

Nov. 19, at Cornell*

* - Ivy League game

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2. HARVARD CRIMSON

LOCATION: Cambridge, Massachusetts

STADIUM: Harvard Stadium

COACH: Tim Murphy (156-63 in 22 seasons at Harvard; 188-108-1 overall)

LAST SEASON: 9-1 overall, 6-1 Ivy League (Tie/1st)

STARTERS RETURNING: 10 (5 offense/5 defense)

THREE KEY LOSSES: Scott Hosch, QB; Ben Braunecker, TE; Matt Koran, LB

ONE TO WATCH ON OFFENSE: Justice Shelton-Mosley, WR, So. (40 receptions, 589 yards, 6 TDs; 33.1-yard KO return average; 19-yard punt return average, 1 TD)

ONE TO WATCH ON DEFENSE: Sean Ahern, CB, Sr. (34 TT, 3 TFL, 1 sack, 5 PBU, 1 FF, 2 BK)

OTHER KEY PLAYERS: QB Joe Viviano, Sr.; Tom Stewart, QB, So.; Semar Smith, RB, Jr.; Noah Reimers, RB, So.; Charlie Booker III, RB, So.; John Van Allen III, WR, Sr.; Anthony Firkser, H-Back, Sr.; Max Rich, OL, Sr.; Larry Allen, OL, Jr.; Langston Ward, DE, Sr.; Scott Evans, DE, Jr.; Doug Webb, DT, Sr.; Miles McCollum, DE, Sr.; Davon Robertson, DE, Sr.; James Duberg, DE, Sr.; Luke Hutton, LB, Jr.; Chase Guillory, LB, Jr.; Raishaun McGhee, DB, Sr.

OUTLOOK: The Crimson program is better at reloading than any other Ivy program, but it lost 14 players who earned a form of all-league honors, some whom were two- and three-year starters. It doesn't mean a fourth straight Ivy title is out of the question - the Crimson were in fact the league's preseason favorite. But considering the significant losses, going on the road against Ivy rivals Brown, Princeton, Dartmouth and Penn could prove taxing. Either QB Viviano, who was injured last season, or Stewart will guide the offense, taking over for Hosch, last year's Ivy offensive player of the year. One of the team's biggest strengths is the skills positions, as WR Shelton-Mosley and H-Back Firkser will be outstanding, and Reimers (253 yards, 6 TDs) and Smith will take on a bigger load at running back. The defense took more hits on graduation day than the offense. The Crimson are looking for a fiercer pass rush from its rebuilt front seven. Ahern, a first-team All-Ivy cornerback, is the top-returning defensive player.

SCHEDULE:

Sept. 16, Rhode Island

Sept. 24, at Brown*

Sept. 30, Georgetown

Oct. 8, Cornell*

Oct. 15, at Holy Cross

Oct. 22, at Princeton*

Oct. 29, at Dartmouth*

Nov. 5, Columbia*

Nov. 12, at Penn*

Nov. 19, Yale*

* - Ivy League game

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3. PRINCETON TIGERS

LOCATION: Princeton, New Jersey

STADIUM: Princeton Stadium

COACH: Bob Surace (25-35 in six seasons at Princeton; 43-38 overall)

LAST SEASON: 5-5 overall, 2-5 Ivy League (6th)

STARTERS RETURNING: 14 (7 offense/7 defense)

THREE KEY LOSSES: Seth DeValve, WR; Matt Arends, LB; Anthony Gaffney, CB

ONE TO WATCH ON OFFENSE: John Lovett, QB/RB, Jr. (44 receptions, 286 yards, 9 TDs; 11-for-15, 94 yards, 3 TDs)

ONE TO WATCH ON DEFENSE: Dorian Williams, FS, Sr. (91 TT, 1.5 sacks, 3 PBU, 1 FR, 2 FF)

OTHER KEY PLAYERS: Chad Kanoff, QB, Sr.; Joe Rhattigan, RB, Sr.; Isaiah Barnes, WR, Sr.; Trevor Osborne, WR, Sr.; Scott Carpenter, TE, Sr.; Mitchell Sweigart, OL, Jr.; Erik Ramirez, OL, Jr.; Kurt Holuba, DL, Jr.; Tyler Desire, DL, Jr.; Henry Schlossberg, NG, Sr.; Brannon Jones, DL, Sr.; Rohan Hylton, LB, Sr.; Luke Catarius, LB, Sr.; Birk Olson, LB, Sr.; R.J. Paige, LB, Sr.; Markus Phox, CB, Sr.; James Gales, DB, Sr.

OUTLOOK: After beating three Patriot League teams by at least 24 points last season, the Tigers kept losing close games in the Ivy League (four by seven points or less). They seek to make amends with an experienced team. Surace feels this year's front seven is the best of his tenure, and the pressure it can put on quarterbacks will pay off (the defense had 28 sacks last season). Schlossberg, Desire and Holuba are standouts on the D-line. FS Williams led the team in tackles, and four of the top five in that statistic return. The no-huddle offense has one of the more unique players in the FCS in Lovett, who lines up at quarterback, running back or wide receiver. Kanoff (203-for-355, 2,304 yards, 8 TDs, 7 INTs) handles most the passing and Rhattigan (122 carries, 612 yards, 7 TDs) is the featured running back. During the preseason, the Tigers are trying to figure out depth on the offensive line and in the secondary.

SCHEDULE:

Sept. 17, Lafayette

Sept. 24, Lehigh

Oct. 1, at Columbia*

Oct. 8, at Georgetown

Oct. 15, Brown*

Oct. 22, Harvard*

Oct. 29, at Cornell*

Nov. 5, Penn*

Nov. 12, at Yale*

Nov. 19, Dartmouth*

* - Ivy League game

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4. YALE BULLDOGS

LOCATION: New Haven, Connecticut

STADIUM: Yale Bowl

COACH: Tony Reno (21-19 in four seasons at Yale)

LAST SEASON: 6-4 overall, 3-4 Ivy League (Tie/4th)

STARTERS RETURNING: 17 (8 offense/9 defense)

THREE KEY LOSSES: Morgan Roberts, QB; Andrew Larkin, LB; Cole Champion, DB

ONE TO WATCH ON OFFENSE: Deshawn Salter, RB, Jr. (129 carries, 561 yards, 7 TDs)

ONE TO WATCH ON DEFENSE: Copache Tyler, DT, Sr. (23 TT, 5.5 TFL, 1 sack, 4 PBU, 1 BK)

OTHER KEY PLAYERS: Rafe Chapple, QB, Jr.; Tre Moore, QB, So.; Candler Rich, RB, Sr.; Dale Harris, RB, Sr.; Robert Clemons III, WR, Sr.; Christopher Williams-Lopez, WR, Jr.; Michael Siragusa Jr., WR, Jr.; Leo Haenni, TE, Sr.; Marty Moesta, DL, Sr.; Nicholas Crowle, DT, Jr.; Matthew Oplinger, LB, Jr.; Victor Egu, LB, Sr.; Spencer Rymiszewski, CB, Sr.; Foyesade Oluokun, DB, Sr.; Hayden Carlson, DB, Jr.; Jason Alessi, DB/RS, Jr.; Bryan Holmes, PK, Sr.

OUTLOOK: With the door open in the Ivy title chase, the Bulldogs must like their chances with 17 returning starters. The big question is whether QB Chapple can successfully replace Roberts, Yale's all-time leader in passing yardage. Fortunately, the new signal-caller has many offensive weapons. William-Lopez is coming off a 60-catch season, and Clemons and Siragusa combined on another 70 receptions. Also, there's depth at running back with Salter, Rich and Harris, who made a late-season move to the position. The physical defense returns plenty of key players, including two first-team all-league selections in DT Tyler and CB Rymiszewski. The Bulldogs also get back standout safety Oluokun after he was limited to three games last season because of injury. A poor second half of last season (a 2-3 record) should be motivating the Bulldogs.

SCHEDULE:

Sept. 17, Colgate

Sept. 24, at Cornell*

Oct. 1, Lehigh

Oct. 8, Dartmouth*

Oct. 15, at Fordham

Oct. 22, Penn*

Oct. 29, at Columbia*

Nov. 5, at Brown*

Nov. 12, Princeton*

Nov. 19, at Harvard*

* - Ivy League game

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5. DARTMOUTH BIG GREEN

LOCATION: Hanover, New Hampshire

STADIUM: Memorial Field

COACH: Buddy Teevens (75-83-2 in 16 seasons at Dartmouth; 109-160-2 overall)

LAST SEASON: 9-1 overall, 6-1 Ivy League (Tie/1st)

STARTERS RETURNING: 5 (4 offense/1 defense)

THREE KEY LOSSES: Dalyn Williams, QB; Ryan McManus, WR/PR; Will McNamara, LB

ONE TO WATCH ON OFFENSE: Ryder Stone, RB, Jr. (75 carries, 375 yards, 8 TDs)

ONE TO WATCH ON DEFENSE: Folarin Orimolade, LB, Sr. (36 TT, 12 TFL, 8 sacks, 4 PBU, 1 QBH, 4 FF)

OTHER KEY PLAYERS: Bruce Dixon IV, QB, So.; Jack Heneghan, QB, Jr.; Houston Brown, WR, Sr.; Jon Marc Carrier, WR, Sr.; Dave Morrison, LT, Sr.; Zach Davis, OG, Sr.; Brandon Cooper, DE, Sr.; Jackson Perry, DE, So.; Zach Husain, DL, Sr.; Lucas Bavaro, NB, Sr.; Charlie Miller, SS, Sr.; Danny McManus, CB/KR, Sr.; Cameron Skaff, TE, Jr.; Alex Gakenheimer, PK, Sr.; Ben Kepley, P, Sr.

OUTLOOK: Last year's senior-driven team returns only five starters, which has Teevens rebuilding the team's two-deep. But there were younger players who got snaps, so Teevens believes his team can remain in the title chase following a share of their first Ivy crown since 1996. Orimolade is the only returning starter from a superb defense, so opponents will look to double-team him when he rushes the quarterback. The new anchor on the defensive line is DE Cooper. On offense, QB Dixon is expected to take over for Williams, a four-year starter, and there could be growing pains. With the loss of top receivers McManus and Victor Williams, RB Stone figures to become a focal point of the offense after splitting carries in the past. The home portion of the schedule is as strong as it will ever be as it sees fellow 2015 co-champs Harvard and Penn as well Brown and CAA Football members New Hampshire and Towson coming to Hanover.

SCHEDULE:

Sept. 17, New Hampshire

Sept. 24, at Holy Cross

Oct. 1, Penn*

Oct. 8, at Yale*

Oct. 15, Towson

Oct. 22, at Columbia*

Oct. 29, Harvard*

Nov. 5, at Cornell*

Nov. 12, Brown*

Nov. 19, at Princeton*

* - Ivy League game

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6. BROWN BEARS

LOCATION: Providence, Rhode Island

STADIUM: Brown Stadium

COACH: Phil Estes (108-71 in 18 seasons at Brown)

LAST SEASON: 5-5 overall, 3-4 Ivy League (Tie/4th)

STARTERS RETURNING: 15 (8 offense/7 defense)

THREE KEY LOSSES: Brian Strachan, WR; Will Quigley, CB; Zack Gillen, FS

ONE TO WATCH ON OFFENSE: Alex Jette, WR/RS/P, Sr. (68 receptions, 928 yards, 4 TDs; 23.7-yard KO return average, 1 TD)

ONE TO WATCH ON DEFENSE: Richard Jarvis, DE, Sr. (34 TT, 6.5 TFL, 2 sacks, 1 INT, 2 QBH)

OTHER KEY PLAYERS: Kyle Moreno, QB, Sr.; Nicholas Duncan, QB, So.; Johnny Pena, RB, Sr.; Troy Doles, WR/KR, Sr.; Dakota Girard, OL, Sr.; Matt Girard, OL, Sr.; Christian Montano, C, Jr.; Robert Hughes, DE, Sr.; Daryl Banfield, DT, So.; Zach Genaway, DT, So.; Will Twyman, ILB, Sr.; Max Tylki, ILB, Sr.; Jordan Ferguson, CB, Sr.; Jacob Wilner, PK, Jr.

OUTLOOK: Brown's steady program appears due for a big season after two straight 5-5 campaigns. The Bears' veteran team features the best wide receiver duo in the league in Jette and Doles (66 receptions, 963 yards, 7 TDs). Jette happens to be the team's punter as well. After tying for second in the FCS for the most turnovers (34) last season, Estes expects better play at quarterback, where Moreno (28-for-45, 360 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs) takes over the read option attack as a senior. The veteran offensive line will provide plenty of protection, something that also will benefit RB Pena (310 yards, 6 TDs). The Bears finished last in the league in scoring defense (32.9 ppg), so having a healthier defensive line is key. Jarvis is one of the league's better pass rushers and ILB Twyman scoops up a lot behind him (he led the team with 77 tackles and six passes defensed).

SCHEDULE:

Sept. 17, at Bryant

Sept. 24, Harvard*

Oct. 1, at Rhode Island

Oct. 8, Stetson

Oct. 15, at Princeton*

Oct. 22, Cornell*

Oct. 29, at Penn*

Nov. 5, Yale*

Nov. 12, at Dartmouth*

Nov. 19, Columbia*

* - Ivy League game

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7. COLUMBIA LIONS

LOCATION: New York

STADIUM: Wien Stadium

COACH: Al Bagnoli (2-8 in one season at Columbia; 236-107 overall)

LAST SEASON: 2-8 overall, 1-6 Ivy League (Tie/7th)

STARTERS RETURNING: 12 (8 offense, 4 defense)

THREE KEY LOSSES: Cam Molina, RB; Toba Akinleye, DE; Chad Washington, DE

ONE TO WATCH ON OFFENSE: Skyler Mornhinweg, QB, Sr. (149-for-253, 1,323 yards, 6 TDs, 11 INTs; 84 carries, 249 yards, 3 TDs)

ONE TO WATCH ON DEFENSE: Christian Conway, LB/DB, Sr. (57 TT, 7.5 TFL, 2 sacks, 3 QBH, 1 FR, 1 FF, 1 BK)

OTHER KEY PLAYERS: Alan Watson, RB/KR, Sr.; Chris Schroer, RB, Jr.; Scooter Hollis, WR, Sr.; Cameron Dunn, WR, Sr.; John Hunton, TE, Sr.; Nathan Gibbs, OL, Sr.; Kendall Pace, OL, Sr.; Bewley Wales, OL, Jr.; Markham Paukune, OL, Jr.; Dominic Perkovic, DL, Jr.; Lord Hyeamang, DL, Jr.; Keith Brady, LB, Sr.; Gianmarco Rea, LB, Sr.; Jared Katz, CB, Sr.; Cameron Roane, CB, Jr.; Brock Kenyon, DB, Sr.; Cameron Nizialek, P, Sr.

OUTLOOK: With six of their eight losses by eight points or less, the Lions were closer to respectability than last year's 2-8 record suggested. However, the struggling program still needs to build recruiting classes under Bagnoli and actually start winning more games. He's seeking new leaders after some of the team's top players graduated. Second-year QB Mornhinweg, the Florida transfer who played through injuries, has to improve his touchdown-to-interception ratio of 6-to-11. He gets back No. 1 WR Hollis (51 receptions, 515 yards, 1 TD). Bagnoli has to rebuild last year's outstanding defensive line, although five of the team's top six tacklers, including co-leaders Brady and Conway (57 each), return to the linebackers unit and secondary.

SCHEDULE:

Sept. 17, Saint Francis

Sept. 24, at Georgetown

Oct. 1, Princeton*

Oct. 8, at Wagner

Oct. 15, at Penn*

Oct. 22, Dartmouth*

Oct. 29, Yale*

Nov. 5 at Harvard*

Nov. 12, Cornell*

Nov. 19, at Brown*

* - Ivy League game

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8. CORNELL BIG RED

LOCATION: Ithaca, New York

STADIUM: Schoellkopf Field

COACH: David Archer (5-25 in three seasons at Cornell)

LAST SEASON: 1-9 overall, 1-6 Ivy League (Tie/7th)

STARTERS RETURNING: 15 (7 offense/8 defense)

THREE KEY LOSSES: Luke Hagy, RB; JJ Fives, OLB; Rush Imhotep, S

ONE TO WATCH ON OFFENSE: Ben Rogers, WR/RS, Sr. (26 reception, 439 yards, 3 TDs)

ONE TO WATCH ON DEFENSE: Nick Gesualdi, S, Jr. (51 TT, 1 INT, 8 PBU, 1 FR, 1 FF)

OTHER KEY PLAYERS: Dalton Banks, QB, So.; Robert Somborn, QB, Sr.; Chris Walker, RB, So.; Jack Gellatly, FB, Jr.; Collin Shaw, WR, Sr.; Marshall Deutz, WR, Sr.; Matt Sullivan, TE, Sr.; Dan Morin, OL, Sr.; Alex Emanuels, OL, Sr.; Seth Hope, DE, Jr.; Geno DeMarco, DL, Jr.; Sean Scullen, OLB, Jr.; Miles Norris, ILB, Sr.; Daniel Crochet, ILB, Jr.; Jackson Weber, ILB, Sr.; Chris Fraser, P, Sr.

OUTLOOK: Archer feels there have been too many players on the field at too young an age, but it might pay some dividends for the win-starved program. One youngster, Banks, is trying to supplant last year's starting quarterback, Somborn (144-for-272, 1,874 yards, 12 TDs, 10 INTs). Another sophomore, Walker, will try to replace the team's best player, Hagy, at running back. Rogers is the Big Red's top-returning pass catcher and return man. The defense will try to improve against the run after ranking last in the league last year. Ball-hawking safety Gesualdi and ILB Weber, the team's leading tackler, hope to jump-start the defense. In Fraser, the Big Red feature the STATS FCS Preseason All-America punter. He's also a three-time All-Ivy first-teamer as he enters his final season.

SCHEDULE:

Sept. 17, at Bucknell

Sept. 24, Yale*

Oct. 1, at Colgate

Oct. 8 at Harvard*

Oct. 15, Sacred Heart

Oct. 22, at Brown*

Oct. 29, Princeton*

Nov. 5, Dartmouth*

Nov. 12, at Columbia*

Nov. 19, Penn*

* - Ivy League game

Updated August 26, 2016

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