Last week, junior wide receiver Joshua Casilli got the Quakers off to a strong start in their key matchup at Dartmouth, scoring the team's first and only regulation touchdown of the game and his first of the season.
The Red and Blue beat reigning Ivy co-champion Dartmouth in with a double-overtime win, and after the squad's most recent victory versus Georgetown, the team sits at 4-0. Although Casilli was proud of the team's success, his touchdown, and his recent statistics (19 catches across four games and 10 catches in week one against Colgate), his journey with the Quakers hasn’t always been smooth sailing.
Casilli got off to a slow start with Penn due to the COVID-19-induced cancellation of his freshman season and subsequent injuries. Despite this, Casilli said that he and his teammates put in a lot of work during this past offseason to ensure success this go-around.
"We missed my freshman year [because of] COVID-19, so we got a late start in the spring," Casilli said. "I came here, I didn't really take care of my body, I was getting hurt. So there's a little bit of a learning curve from a health standpoint. And then [I came] back the next season and obviously [it was] kind of a rough season, so we took big steps this offseason to get right."
Casilli has been playing football his whole life. In fact, his interest in football runs in the family: His dad played Division III football at Carnegie Mellon and used to coach Casilli and his cousins when he was younger.
"I just got into playing football when I was 6 years old," Casilli said. "My dad played football in college. So I played with a bunch of my cousins and my uncle and dad coached, so it's been in our family forever."
Even at the collegiate level, where Casilli is no longer coached by his father or playing with his cousins, he still considers football to be a family sport due to the close connections and bonds he has with his teammates.
"Now in season, this is my life. I'm here [at Franklin Field] twice a day," Casilli said. "These are the guys I go to war with every day. So it's just good. I have these guys here and I have them in the classroom. It's a brotherhood."
To that end, Casilli is a team player. To him, personal statistics and awards don’t matter as long as the team plays cohesively and wins.
"Personally, I don't really have any goals. I just want to help my team win," Casilli said. "And right now, I could care less what my stats are. I think we're winning. I think we’re [undefeated], so we've just got to keep improving as a unit and I think we can get there."
Off the field, Casilli studies at Wharton and is planning on concentrating in finance. Although he is excited about his future career, a large chunk of his focus still remains on football.
"I'm looking at internships in investment banking and finance," Casilli said. "So I'm going to figure it out this summer. I honestly don't really know what I want to do yet, but that's kind of exciting. So I don't know where I'm going to end up. I'm just trying to play football for as long as possible and enjoy myself."
As he reflects back upon his most recent touchdown that provided the Quakers crucial starting momentum, the McMurray, Pa. native just hopes that he can continue to support his team with more Ivy League wins, both at home and on the road.
"I think anytime you can get a road win in the Ivy League, that's huge," Casilli said. "Every game is tough. Especially a program like Dartmouth’s, they're very talented. So yeah, first touchdown. Obviously it feels great. Hopefully, more to come."