When the 2013 season opens on Sept. 21, 30 new freshmen will suit up in orange and black as members of the football team. After the program’s first .500 football season since 2006, the incoming members of the Class of 2017 have higher expectations than previous recruiting classes.
“I’m very excited about this group of young men who will be part of the tradition of Princeton football,” head coach Bob Surace ’90 said. “I feel like this group will add immediate depth on both sides of the ball, and I expect that they will add to the character and integrity of the program.”
On the offensive side of the ball, the Tigers anticipate the arm of quarterback Chad Kanoff, who had originally committed to Vanderbilt before deciding to enroll at Princeton.
“We got the best thrower I’ve seen on film since I’ve been here,” Surace said. “He’s tall, he’s accurate, he’s got a strong arm [and] he is way more athletic than most guys his size, so he’s going to be a tremendous fit.”
Nick Peabody also joins the Tigers as a quarterback, though whether he will remain at the position or convert to either a wideout or tight end role remains to be seen. After juniors Quinn Epperly and Connor Michelsen alternated last season, the question who will start under center may be even more complicated this season.
Joining them in the backfield will be freshman running backs AJ Glass and Joe Rhattigan. The Tigers have not hesitated in putting freshmen in at the running back position over the past few years, but while the running skills are there for both players, they will have to learn the routes and prove that they are able to pass protect if they hope to see playing time this season.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Tigers will miss current Kansas City Chief Mike Catapano ’13 but return a significant number of starters and experienced veterans, giving new recruits such as defensive linemen Hunter Hill, Henry Schlossberg and John Hummel time to improve and get up to speed.“This group is … maybe even a little bit deeper of a group than we’ve ever brought in, but they’re going to have a harder time getting on the field because of the depth that we return,” Surace said.
Still, there will definitely be some who will compete for playing time almost immediately. After being the best pass rusher in training camp, according to Surace, freshman defensive lineman Tyler Desire is someone to watch. Additionally, linebacker Birk Olson may very well start this season coming off the edge on the pass rush.
“The better we are, the harder it is. As there’s more talent returning, and there’s more depth returning, that makes what these guys do now and in the summer [even more important]. These recruits have to be even more in tune with our strength and conditioning programs and getting themselves ready to have a great season if they want to play as freshmen,” Surace said.
Current Tigers who made impacts their freshmen seasons include sophomores Chuck Dibilio, who rushed for 1,068 yards in 2011, Khamal Brown, cornerback Anthony Gaffney, who was named Ivy League Rookie of the Week twice last season and defensive back Matt Arends, who split the team’s award for best defensive rookie with Gaffney.
The Tigers will open their season Saturday, Sept. 21 at home against Lehigh.