NEW YORK—Twelve individual awards were presented and a 30-member senior class was recognized by Patricia and Shepard Alexander Head Coach of Football Al Bagnoli as Columbia University and the Columbia Football Players Club hosted its annual 2017 football awards banquet Saturday evening at Low Library. Former Columbia football star and current New York Jets linebacker Joshua Martin ‘13CC served as emcee.
Bagnoli spoke about team accomplishments and introduced each of the 30 seniors. Martin spoke about the historic season and congratulated the seniors on “turning the program around.” He spoke about how proud he was as a former player to be representing the program. As emcee, he introduced and presented Columbia’s award-winners including All-Ivy League and various national awards.
Each of the assistant coaches presented the 12 individual awards. The event began with an hour-long welcome reception followed by the banquet program featuring highlight videos and formal dinner. The Senior Speaker was senior Lord Hyeamang who spoke about what the 2017 season meant for the senior class.
Three players earned Most Valuable Player Awards, led by senior quarterback Anders Hill, who was presented with the Sid Luckman MVP award. A native of Boulder, Colo., Hill set a school-record for season completion percentage (63.4 percent) while completing 206 of 325 passes for 2,407 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2017. An All-Ivy League Second Team selection, two-time Ivy League Fall Academic Team honoree and one of 37 national semifinalists for the prestigious Bill Campbell Trophy, he also led the Lions in total offense with 2,550 yards and rushed for 143 yards on 118 carries and three touchdowns. Overall, he was responsible for 19 of Columbia’s 31 touchdowns on the year. Among national FCS statistical leaders, he ranked No. 17 in completion percentage (63.4%), No. 17 in completions per game (20.6), No. 23 in passing yards per game (240.7) and No. 26 in total offense (255.0). In addition, Hill ranked No. 2 in the Ivy League in total offense (255.0 per game), No. 2 in passing yardage per game (240.7) and No. 5 in passing efficiency (135.7). Hill concludes his career after having started 18 consecutive games and led Columbia to an 11-7 overall record, the best record for a Lions starting quarterback in over 70 years. Over his four-year, 31-game collegiate career, Hill ranked among Columbia’s all-time career leaders in several statistics: No. 5 in pass completions (399), No. 5 in passing yardage (4,612), No. 6 in touchdown passes (27) and No. 5 in total offense (5,777). He completed 399 of 645 career passes for 4,612 yards and 27 touchdowns. A team captain, Hill is a Political Science major.
Senior safety Landon Baty earned the Most Valuable Defensive Player Award as a cornerstone on the Lion defense. Baty received Second Team All-Ivy League honors and tied for the Ivy League lead with four interceptions and ranked No. 23 nationally interceptions per game (0.4). He also placed among league leaders in tackles (No. 9 with 66) and fumbles forced (No. 4, 0.2). Baty also finished second on the squad with 66 tackles (32 solo) and totaled five pass breakups, forced two fumbles and totaled forced six total turnovers on the year. He has started 20 consecutive games and has made 122 total tackles (65 solo) with four interceptions and 11 pass breakups over a 22-game career. Baty, who is a native of Mountain View, Calif. and Political Science major, will return for one more season in 2018.
Sophomore wide receiver Josh Wainwright was presented with the Most Valuable Offensive Player Award. A native of Austin, Texas, Wainwright set a school-record for most receiving yards in a season with 1,001, topping the previous record held by Don Lewis (1,000 in 1982) by one yard. Wainwright, who was named to the First Team All-Ivy League team, led Columbia in receptions (78), receiving yards (1,001), receiving touchdowns (eight), all-purpose yardage (1,127) and punt returns (16-98) and totaled four 100-yard receiving games, three 10-plus reception games and two multi-touchdown games. Wainwright concluded the year ranked No. 6 nationally in receptions per game (7.8), No. 11 in receiving yards per game (100.1), No. 16 in receiving yards (1,001) and No. 24 in receiving touchdowns (eight) and ranked among Ivy League leaders in receptions/game (No. 3, 7.8), receiving yards per game (No. 3, 1,001), scoring (No. 9, 4.8 per game) and all-purpose yardage (No. 5, 112.7). He was named the Ivy League Offensive Player of the Week on Oct. 16 after he caught the game-winning touchdown (one of two TDs) and 10 passes for a career-best 193 yards in a 34-31 overtime win over Penn. He caught a career-high 13 passes in the season finale vs. Brown. In his two-year career, Wainwright has made 120 receptions for 1,516 yards, 13 touchdowns and registered five 100-yard receiving games. He is enrolled at Columbia College.
Several other awards were presented to players for various characteristics displayed during the season.
Senior defensive lineman Lord Hyeamang was given the David W. Smyth Memorial Cup, an award which goes to an outstanding player displaying intangibles such as spirit, leadership, sportsmanship and loyalty. A two-time All-Ivy League selection, Hyeamang also earned All-Ivy League honors for the second straight year (First Team) as he was a Second Team pick in 2016. Hyeamang ranked No. 17 in the Ivy League in tackles for loss (5.0-17 yards) and finished with 24 total tackles (nine solo) and 1.0 sack from his defensive tackle position. At 6-feet-4-inches tall and 285 pounds, Hyeamang has amassed 77 total tackles, 14.0 tackles for loss and 2.0 sacks in his 39-game career. A Lakeville, Minn. native, Hyeamang served as one of four Columbia captains in 2017 and majors in Psychology/Pre-Med. The first recipient of Smyth Cup was in 1950.
Senior defensive back Cameron Roane was named the 2017 Head Coach Career Achievement Award recipient. Roane earned All-Ivy League honors for the second consecutive season as he was a First Team selection. A superb one-on-one cornerback in Columbia’s defensive scheme, Roane ranked tied for No. 4 in the Ivy League and led the Lions with nine pass breakups. He also totaled 25 tackles (19 solo). Over his four-year, 35-game career, Roane has made 76 tackles, intercepted one pass and broke up 20 passes. Roane, who concluded his career by starting 20 consecutive games, is an Architecture major from Durham, N.C.
Senior punter Parker Thome came away with the Special Teams Award, given to the player who excelled on special teams. Thome earned First Team All-Ivy League accolades in 2017 and led the Ivy League and ranked No. 11 nationally in punting with a 42.9 yards per punt average. In 50 punts, Thome had 10 punts travel 50 yards or more, placed 23 inside the 20-yard line and had 12 end in a fair catch. His long was a 66-yard punt. A native of Hortonville, Wis., Thome is a Biological Studies major. He will be the third punter in two years to use his extra year of eligibility and punt at a Southeastern Conference school, Vanderbilt.
First-year linebacker Justin Woodley was named the Ken Germann Freshman Award winner, for the most accomplished and outstanding first-year player. Woodley saw action in all 10 games as a linebacker and on special teams. He concluded the year with 19 total tackles, intercepted two passes and recovered a fumble and scored a touchdown on a blocked punt vs. Brown (Nov. 18). He was named the Ivy League Rookie of the Week after he intercepted two passes and made two tackles in a win over Penn (Oct. 14).
Senior Bewley Wales earned the Jack Armstrong Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman Award after proving to be the Lions’ most valuable offensive lineman in 2017. A Tulsa, Okla. native, Wales started all 40 of his career games played at Columbia. Ironically, Wales started at a different position during each of his four seasons at Columbia: left guard as a freshman, center as a sophomore, right tackle as a junior and left tackle as a senior. A team captain, Wales is a Political Science major.
Senior defensive lineman Connor Heeb was presented with the Maniatty-Remer Unsung Hero Award, given to a player whose role is not always obvious to the outside observer, but without his contribution, the team would not be as successful. Heeb started nine of 10 games at defensive end in 2017. He totaled 22 tackles (eight solo), 4.5 tackles for losses, 1.0 sack, two quarterback hurries, registered a safety at Cornell and blocked a team-high three kicks which ranked No. 4 nationally. Over his four-year and 35-game career, Heeb made 19 starts, made 47 tackles and 5.5 tackles for loss. The Canandaigua, N.Y. native is an Economics major. The first recipient of the Maniatty-Remmer Unsung Hero award was in 1988.
Junior wide receiver Kyle Castner and junior safety Ryan Gilbert shared the Lou Little Coaches Most Improved Player Award, given to the player who through extraordinary efforts, improved his play and maximized his production. The first recipient of the Lou Little Most Improved Player Award was in 1988. Castner made a position switch from quarterback to wide receiver and learned the position so quickly that he earned starts in all 10 games in 2017. He ranked third on the squad with 24 receptions for 286 yards and a touchdown. An Indianapolis, Ind. native, Castner is a Political Science major. Gilbert started all 10 games at free safety and led the Lions with 95 tackles, a mark that ranked No. 25 nationally and No. 3 in the Ivy League. He also registered a tackle for loss, intercepted a pass and forced a fumble on the year. He made a career and season-high 18 tackles at Yale on Oct. 28. A native of Bellevue, Wash., Gilbert is a Political Science major.
Senior defensive lineman Alexander Holme was presented with the John J. Cirgliano Ironman Award, given to the one player who overcomes adversity to become a strong contributor to the team on the field. Holme played in all 10 games on the defensive line with two starts and was a key contributor on special teams. He concluded the year with 25 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and blocked a point after attempt. He played in 25 career games, totaled 81 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss and forced two fumbles over his four-year career. Holme is an Oakland, Calif. native and is enrolled at the Earth Science Institute. The first recipient of the John J. Cirgliano Award was in 1988.
Senior running back Chris Schroer was named the Phil Fusco Award recipient, given to a player who exhibits overall leadership both on and off the field. A Cincinnati, Ohio native who earned CoSIDA Academic All-America Second Team honors and is a two-time All-District Academic honoree, Schroer ranked No. 7 in the Ivy League and led the Lions in rushing with 638 yards on 137 carries and a touchdown. He also caught 18 passes for 162 yards and a touchdown and ranked second on the squad in total offense (638 yards). Over the season’s last three games, Schroer rushed for 398 yards on 74 carries (5.3 yards per carry average) and totaled back-to-back 100-yard rushing games (183 at Cornell and 125 vs. Harvard). A Sociology major with a 3.94 grade point average, Schroer has rushed for 920 career yards on 217 carries and two touchdowns and caught 33 passes for 295 yards in his 32-game career.
In addition, Columbia will honor its senior class which includes Collin Breckenridge (DL), Marcus Briscoe (TE), Clay Caruso (LB), Zach Dansby (TE), Turner DeMuth (LB), Pat Denny (OL), David Donovan (TE), Connor Heeb (DL), Anders Hill (QB), Denzel Hill (DB), Alexander Holme (DL), Denzel Hill (DB), Tyler Holmes (DB), Lord Hyeamang (DL), Michael McGrath (OL), Charles Melka (DL), Dominic Perkovic (DL), Bailey Popeck (TE), Cameron Roane (DB), Benjamin Robbins (OL), Chris Schroer (RB), Reid Stables (OL), Liam Talty (DL), Parker Thome (P), Parker Tobia (LB), Ian Tyler (DL), Bewley Wales (OL), Greg Washington (DL), Dylan Weldon (DB) and Noah Zgrablich (PK/P).
For the first time-ever, the event had an emcee in Martin. Martin completed his fifth year in the NFL with the New York Jets as he made 43 total tackles (28 solo) and 1.5 sacks in nine starts and 14 games in 2017. An Aurora, Colo. native, Martin has seen NFL action with the New York Jets (2015-17), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2015) and Kansas City Chiefs (2013-14). In his five-year NFL career, Martin has made 84 combined tackles (57 solo) and 2.5 sacks. A three-time All-Ivy League player 2010-12, Martin ranks among Columbia all-time leaders in career sacks (2nd all-time, 18.0), career yards from sacks (1st with 118), career tackles for loss (ninth, 25.0), career quarterback hurries (1st, 14), career fumble recoveries (6th, 5) and game sacks (1st, 3.0 sacks two times).
In 2017, the Columbia program experienced its best season in 21 years. An 8-2 regular season, a second place finish in the Ivy League and a 5-2 Ivy League record highlighted the 2017 campaign. Along the way, it was the Lions’ resiliency, toughness and work ethic that captured the attention of their fans, the New York City media and national media members alike.
The Lions will be back in action when they begin preparation for the coming 2018 season with spring football practice. Dates and times for spring practices and Columbia’s annual spring game will be released at a later date.
2017 COLUMBIA FOOTBALL AWARD WINNERS
Sid Luckman Most Valuable Player Award: Anders Hill (QB)
Most Valuable Offensive Player: Josh Wainwright (WR)
Most Valuable Defensive Player: Landon Baty (DB)
David W. Smyth Memorial Cup: Lord Hyeamang (DL)
Head Coach Career Achievement Award: Cameron Roane (DB)
Special Teams Award: Parker Thome (P)
Ken Gerrmann Freshman of the Year Award: Justin Woodley (LB)
Jack Armstrong Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman Award: Bewley Wales (OL)
Maniatty-Remmer Unsung Hero Award: Connor Heeb (DL)
John J. Cirigliano Ironman Award: Alexander Holme (DL)
Phil Fusco Award: Chris Schroer (RB)