The Daily Pennsylvanian is a student-run nonprofit.

Please support us by disabling your ad blocker on our site.

Saint Ann's School '98

Brooklyn, N.Y.

One year removed from the glory of throwing Franklin Field's east goalpost into the Schuylkill River in celebration of an Ivy League championship, the Penn football team will try to claw its way back to the top of the Ivy League in the fall.

The path back to the top of the Ancient Eight will not be an easy one, and Penn coach Al Bagnoli will have to hope that his efforts in recruiting a lineman-heavy freshman class pay off on both offense and defense.

"It's more about positional areas, because [recruiting] is not an exact science," Bagnoli said. "We went after linemen on both sides. Just to look at us, we're lacking numbers on both the offensive and defensive lines. So that was our No. 1 priority."

To that end, two true road graders stand out on the offensive line. One is Chris Clark, a 6'2", 285-pound lineman from Temecula, Calif., who was named his league's Most Valuable Player.

Another offensive line prospect, Chris McGrady, hailing from Shady Spring, W. Va., tips the scales at 280 pounds. McGrady was first team All-State in both his junior and senior years of high school. He was also captain of the weightlifting team and holds his school's record with a lift of 705 pounds.

In the front seven on defense, the Quakers will have to replace first team All-Ivy selections Mike Germino and Jim Hisgen, as well as second team All-Ivy selection Jason Maehr and honorable mention All-Ivy nose guard Adrian Puzio. Those four men helped to anchor the seventh-best rush defense in the NCAA last year and will not be easy to replace.

"We got hit pretty extensively by graduation," Bagnoli said. "On offense, we have the same problem with the line."

Penn has no such problems away from the lines.

"If you really look at the strength of our team, it's in the skilled positions," Bagnoli said.

Gavin Hoffman, in his first year after transferring from Northwestern, notched 200 completions en route to a Penn-record 2,328 yards through the air last season. He will return to pass to a receiving corps that logged 241.2 yards per game last season, which will be led by new wide receivers coach Kirk Ciarocca.

Although Penn will lose talented senior Brandon Carson to graduation, the O'Neill brothers -- Doug and Dave -- are both expected to return to the Penn offense.

In the backfield, Kris Ryan, who rushed for 1,197 yards last year to garner a first team All-Ivy selection, still has two more years to play with the Red and Blue. Under new offensive coordinator Andy Coen's scheme, Ryan may not have to be called upon quite as frequently to carry the load of the Quakers' offense.

"There will be some changes," Bagnoli said. "But we'll try to keep the balance of running the ball and throwing the ball."

The Penn defense will try to keep the opposition from doing just that. To help address some of the issues with the front seven, Bagnoli plans to use players with junior varsity experience at Penn. Bagnoli also said that Steve Moroney will move from the outside of the defensive line to the inside. Ed and Jon Galan will also be back for the defensive front.

Penn's secondary, meanwhile, will remain strong. Hasani White and Joey Alofaituli, both honorable mention All-Ivy selections from last year, will anchor that group in their senior season.

That season begins on September 16 at Lehigh, followed by the home opener a week later against Lafayette. Penn's Ivy opener will be at Franklin Field on September 30 against Dartmouth.

Comments powered by Disqus

Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.