Catching Up with Five Rising Seniors Before the Start of Spring Ball
Courtesy: Columbia University Athletics
NEW YORK It’s that time of year again!   The Columbia football team began spring practice under the lights and a steady drizzle at Robert K. Kraft Field on March 27. 

Spring practices are closed to the public, unless special access is granted.  If you’d like permission to attend a practice, you can contact Jeff Kupper at

On the first day of spring ball, the Lions took the field with enthusiasm and high energy.  With the largest senior class in at least five years, caught up with five rising seniors Columbia fans are very familiar with. Austin Knowlin, M.A. Olawale, Andy Shalbrack, Lou Miller and Taylor Joseph gave a little insight to what they are working on and what they are preparing for this spring. will be interviewing football student-athletes throughout the spring.  You can be part of the fun!  Submit questions for the interviews to Darlene Camacho at

Austin Knowlin

What are your strengths on the field?   
I'm pretty quick and faster than a lot of people we play against, but I think my best strengths are my vision and adjusting when things change during a play

What can you improve on?
I need to improve on my route running. Coach Smith always reminds me to be more precise in my routes, because I get open because I'm fast and athletic, but things would be easier for me if I was more patient and precise in my routes.

Catching passes or returning punts?
Either, I just love getting the ball.

What gets you ready for game day?
After pre-game breakfast, I always go back to my room and lay down and finish the movie I was watching the night before (usually Gladiator) and then I listen to music all the way until I'm on the field for pre-game

Offensive Player to look out for next year?
Milli (M.A. Olawale) is the best quarterback in the Ivy League

Defensive player to look out for next year?
Gross always does his job best on the D, but look out for Owen (Fraser) to come into his own in his sophomore season

M.A. Olawale

What are your strengths on the field?   
I am cool under pressure and I think that playing cool and calmly is contagious. It helps keep everyone else’s emotions in check.

I am beginning to develop a good command of the offense and I understand what the coaches are trying to accomplish on the field

What can you improve on?

The Pass game.... I want to be an athletic quarterback, not an athlete playing quarterback.
I’m working on making my reads quicker, and making better pre-snap reads to eliminate options before the snap

Passing or throwing? THROWING!

Offensive Player to look out for next year?
It’s no secret, Austin Knowlin, but I’d also say Taylor Joseph stat wise he’s been quiet, but he’s ready for a big year.

Defensive player to look out for next year?
Andy Shalbrack...he's the leader of that defensive and I have complete trust in him to lead the defense

There are probably a number of Columbia fans that don’t know your actual name, give us the story behind the initials:
People tend to make names harder than they are.  They destroy my name sometimes.  My name is Millicent Adeola Olawale, so I went with M.A. It’s much easier for everyone to say. 

Andy Shalbrack

What are your strengths on the field?   
My strengths are in coverage. I make decisions quickly and I’m a sound tackler.  Being a cover guy to begin with, those are my biggest strengths. sound tackler -

What can you improve on?
You can always get bigger and stronger I continually work on gaining weight, speed and preparation

Man or zone
I’m a man guy I have to cover AK (Austin Knowlin) all the time in practice, and he gets me ready for games. Man is definitely a little easier for me than it is for some people.

Offensive Player to look out for next year?
Milli (M.A. Olawale) I think we only got a glimpse of him last season and he’s worked really hard leading up to spring ball. He is going to be a force to be reckoned with next year

Defensive player to look out for next year?
Everyone knows what Gross and Miller will bring to the table. I think Owen Fraser is someone to look out for he hasn’t even had an off-season and he was already an All-Ivy League caliber player.

Lou Miller

What are your strengths on the field?   
Awareness of what the offense can beat me with and speed

What can you improve on?
Pass rushing and getting more sacks 

What gets your ready for game day? I listen to music.  I don’t talk to too many people on game day. I try to get my mind collected and focused

Offensive player to look out for next year?   Ray Rangel I think he’s going to have a really good year next year.  He’s tough to tackle.

Defensive player to look out for next year?
Nick Mistretta.  He has a lot of talent and I think he can do some really good things

What people don’t know about this team:
We’re really good, we have a lot of talent and we’re a really close-knit team.

Taylor Joseph

What are your strengths on the field?   
Experience, physicality and consistency I can get open down field for the deep ball and I’m a versatile player.

What can you improve on?
Strength, speed, # of touchdowns and my yards after the catch

Offensive player people need to watch out for?
Milli (M.A. Olawale)  - He always been there physically and now he’s there mentally he is mentally ready to be the starting quarterback.  He’s worked really hard in the off-season.

Defensive player to look out for next year?
Corey Cameron  and AJ Maddox

What do people not know about this team? We can win the Ivy League championship.