Saturday, October 7, 2017 | Noon ET
Tenney Stadium at Leonidoff Field | Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
Marist (3-2, 2-1 PFL)
MaristColumbia
Columbia (3-0, 1-0 Ivy)

POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y.—Columbia (3-0, 1-0 Ivy League) plays its final non-conference game of the 2017 football season when it travels to Marist (3-2, 2-1 Pioneer Football League) for a Saturday, Oct. 7 contest at Tenney Stadium at Leonidoff Field. Kickoff is at Noon ET for Marist’s annual Homecoming Game.

WHERE TO LISTEN/WATCH

The Red Fox Network will live stream the game online with Geoff Brault (play-by-play) and Ed Weir (color analyst) calling action at www.goredfoxes/watchlive. Jay Alter (play-by-play) and former Columbia player Shawn FitzGerald (color analyst) will call action on the Columbia Online Radio Network available at www.gocolumbialions.com.

COLUMBIA LOOKING TO START SEASON AT 4-0

A win over Marist on Saturday would give Columbia four wins to start a season for the first time since 1996 when the Lions won their first six games en route to an 8-2 year. A fourth win would give Columbia one more victory than it accumulated last year (the Lions went 3-7 last year). With its three wins to start the 2017 season, Columbia begins its year at 3-0 for the first time since 1996.

In 1996, Columbia won six straight games to start its season en route to an 8-2 overall record and 5-2 Ivy League record. Two of those wins were in overtime: Sept. 21 vs. Harvard (OT), 20-13; Sept. 28 at Fordham, 17-10; Oct. 5 at Holy Cross, 42-16; Oct. 12 at Penn (OT), 20-19; Oct. 19 Lafayette (Homecoming), 3-0 and Oct. 26 at Yale, 13-10. The streak ended with an 14-11 home loss to Princeton on Nov. 2.  Ironically Columbia defeated Al Bagnoli’s Penn-coached team 20-19 in overtime in 1996.

The last time the Lions put together a .500 or better season was in 2006 when it finished 5-5 overall and 2-5 in the Ivy League.

COLUMBIA ON FOUR-GAME WIN STREAK

Columbia’s current four-game win streak marks its longest win streak since 1996. With its 28-24 win at Princeton on Sept. 30, a 35-14 win over Georgetown on Sept. 23 and a 17-14 season opening win over Wagner on Sept. 16, Columbia claimed its fourth consecutive win after closing out the 2016 season with a 31-13 victory over Brown. The last time Columbia won four and five straight games was from Sept. 21-Nov. 2, 1996.

The season opening victory also gave Columbia its first win on opening day in five years and snapped a four-game losing streak in season openers.

LIONS EARN VOTES IN STATS, INC. NATIONAL POLL

With its 28-24 win and 3-0 start to the season, Columbia earned 22 votes in the STATS, Inc. national FCS poll this week (Monday, Oct. 2). The 22 points rank as the second most votes garnered by an Ivy League school trailing Dartmouth (56) and leading Yale (12), Harvard (10), Princeton (4) and Penn (1).

Columbia did not receive a vote in the FCS Coaches poll. See page 5 for polls.

The last time Columbia received a national ranking was during the final 1947 poll where it came in at No. 20 in the Associated Press poll following a 7-2 overall record.

LIONS AMONG NATIONAL TOP-10 LEADERS IN SEVERAL STATISTICAL CATEGORIES

Through its first three games, Columbia ranks among the nation’s top-10 in nine different statistical categories according to the NCAA. Columbia leads the nation in fewest fumbles lost (zero), winning percentage (1.000) and fourth down conversion defensive percentage (0-4). It is also ranked No. 2 in kickoff return defense (14.60), No. 5 in turnovers lost (3), No. 5 in time of possession (35:04), No. 5 in first downs defense (50%), No. 6 in red zone defense (57.1%), No. 7 in third down conversion percentage defense (27.3%) and No. 8 in third down conversion percentage (50%). In addition, the Lions also rank No. 20 in scoring defense (17.3).

Individually, several Lions also rank among the top-25 national statistical leaders including wide receiver Ronald Smith who is No. 7 in receiving yards per game (125.3), No. 12 in receptions per game (7.0), No. 16 in receiving touchdowns (4) and No. 25 in scoring (8.0), wide receiver Josh Wainwright, who is No. 10 in punt returns (13.0) and No. 17 in receptions per game (6.7), punter Parker Thome, who is No. 17 in punting (42.6), quarterback Anders Hill, who is No. 16 in total offense (279.3) and No. 24 in passing yards per game (252.3) and defensive back Benjamin McKeighan, who ranks No. 16 in interceptions per game (0.7).

COLUMBIA HAS FLAIR FOR DRAMATIC WINS

In the early-going this year, Columbia has shown its resilience and toughness in comeback wins against both Wagner and Princeton. Against Wagner, the Seahawks tied the game at 14-14 and had a chance to ahead on a field goal, but Columbia blocked the attempt. Columbia gained possession of the ball back and quarterback Anders Hill drove the Lions 54 yards down the field where placekicker Oren Milstein converted a last second 29-yard field goal for the win. Milstein nailed the kick after missing his first attempt.

Trailing 24-21 with 1:12 to play at Princeton, wide receiver Ronald Smith II caught a pass from Hill and raced 63 yards down the field for the game-winning touchdown. With Princeton driving on its final posssesion, sophomore Ben McKeighan intercepted his second pass of the day to seal the victory.

Hill has driven the Lions for two game-winning drives in the early-going this year.

ABOUT THE LIONS

Columbia opens a season at 3-0 for the first time since 1996. It plays its final non-conference game on Saturday at Marist after opening its season with a 17-14 win over Wagner and 35-14 win vs. Georgetown. The Lions made their first road trip of the year to Princeton and registered a 28-24 come-from-behind over the Tigers to start 1-0 in Ivy League play.

Columbia returns 13 starters (seven on offense and six on defense) and 57 lettermen to a youthful and talented team that finished 3-7 overall and tied for a sixth place finish in the Ivy League with a 2-5 mark.

The 2016 Lions concluded their season with a victory at Brown, while five of their seven losses were decided by 10 or fewer points. Three All-Ivy League picks return in sophomore placekicker Oren Milstein, senior defensive back Cameron Roane and senior defensive lineman Lord Hyeamang. Additionally, Columbia returned players who accounted for 88 percent (162 of 185) of its points scored, 82 percent (1,651 of 2,014) of its passing yards, 51 percent (1,037 of 2,014) of its receiving yards, 60 percent (3 of 5) of its starters on the offensive line and 49 percent (333 of 680) of its tackles in 2016

Columbia’s spread offense relies on second-year starting quarterback Anders Hill (Sr., 6-4, 220) who has started nine consecutive games. Wide receivers Josh Wainwright (So., 5-11, 175), Ronald Smith (So., 6-2, 190) and Christian Everett (So., 6-2, 200) all return, along with running backs Tanner Thomas (So., 5-10, 190), Chris Schroer (Sr., 6-0, 215) and Lynnard Rose (So., 6-, 185).

Four starters are back on the offensive line, including Bewley Wales (Sr., 6-5, 300), Charlie Flores (Sr., 6-4, 300), Tyler Schonewolf (Jr., 6-3, 280) and Markham Paukune (Sr., 6-4, 290) along with sophomore tight end Rory Schlageter (6-3, 240).

On defense, Columbia’s 4-3 is bolstered by its veteran defensive line, which returns all four starters and seven of its top eight performers from a year ago including starters Hyeamang (Sr., 6-4, 285), Dominic Perkovic (Sr., 6-6, 270), Connor Heeb (Sr., 6-4, 255) and Mike Hinton (Jr., 6-4, 250). Sophomores Daniel DeLorenzi (6-2, 255) and Arman Samouk (6-1, 270) and senior Ian Tyler (6-5, 250) also return to the squad.

The Lions debut a youthful linebacker corps led by Jalen Williams (So., 6-0, 220), Michael Murphy (So., 5-11, 200), Sean White (Jr., 6-3, 240) and Parker Tobia (Sr., 6-1, 225), along with several newcomers. Columbia also returns Roane at cornerback, Landon Baty (Sr., 5-10, 195) at safety and fifth-year player Denzel Hill (Sr., 6-3, 200) at cornerback.

ABOUT THE RED FOXES

Marist enters Saturday’s contest with a 3-2 overall record and 2-1 Pioneer Football League record. Last week, it registered a 31-9 win at Davidson and has wins over Georgetown (14-12 on Sept. 16) and Stetson (38-17 on Sept. 9). Marist is led by quarterback Mike White, who has completed 118 of 210 passes for 1,225 yards and seven touchdowns with five interceptions. He has also rushed for 90 yards on 27 carries and three touchdowns. Running back Marcellus Calhoun leads the Red Foxes with 229 yards rushing on 68 attempts and three touchdowns. Juston Christian (38 catches for 470 yards) and Lawrence Dickens (28 receptions for 295 yards) are Marist’s leading receivers. On defense, free safety Wes Beans is Marist’s leading tackler with 29 tackles (18 solo), while Ruben Avalos III (26 tackles 1  FR), Jordyn Jean-Felix (25 tackles), Maliek Carr (21 tackles 3.5 TFL) and Drew Daniel (20 tackles) are all among team tackles leaders.

RONALD SMITH NAMED IVY LEAGUE OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK

After scoring the game-winning touchdown on a 63-yard reception and setting a school-record with 236 yards receiving in a 28-24 win at Princeton, Columbia sophomore wide receiver Ronald Smith II was named the Ivy League’s Offensive Player of the Week, the conference announced on Monday. Smith becomes the first Columbia player to earn the Ivy League Offensive Player of the Week award since Sean Brackett on October 4, 2010.

In addition to his Ivy League award, Smith was also named an honorable mention CFPA FCS National Performer of the Week, honorable mention for the STATS FCS National Player of the Week and Ivy League Offensive Player of the Week by CollegeSportsMadness.com.

With Columbia trailing 24-21 and 1:12 left in the game, Smith caught a pass from senior quarterback Anders Hill, surged past a Princeton defender and raced 45 yards into the end zone to give Columbia a 28-24 road victory over defending Ivy League champion Princeton. With the win, Columbia Football is off to a perfect 3-0 start for the first time since 1996.

On the day, Smith set the Columbia school and Princeton Stadium records with a career-high 236 receiving yards on 10 receptions. His 236-yard receiving game ranks 11th among single-game totals in Ivy League history and marks the fourth highest total in FCS football this year. He also tied a career-high with two touchdown receptions and caught two TD passes for the second consecutive game. He surpassed Columbia’s single-game receiving yards record of 214 yards set by Bill Wazevich vs. Princeton on October 7, 1967. His game-winning 63-yard touchdown reception marked the longest catch of his career. The performance marked Smith’s third 100-yard receiving game of his career. His previous career-high for receiving yards was 195 yards and his career-high for receptions still stands at 11 vs. Yale on Oct. 28, 2016.

In the national FCS statistical rankings, Smith ranked seventh in receiving yards per game (125.3), 12th in receptions per game (7.0) and 16th in touchdowns receiving (4). He leads the Ivy League in receiving yards per game (125.3), ranks third in receptions per game (7.0) and all-purpose yards per game (125.3) and fifth in scoring (24.0 points). In three games, he has 21 receptions for 376 yards (17.9 yards per catch) and has scored four touchdowns. Over his eight-game and five-start career, Smith has totaled 42 receptions for 718 yards (17.1 yards per catch) and eight touchdowns.

COLUMBIA-MARIST SERIES

Columbia and Marist will meet for the third time in football. Columbia holds a 2-0 all-time advantage in the series. It is the first time the two schools will meet in Poughkeepsie as the first two contests were played in New York City: 31-7 Columbia win on Sept. 22, 2007 and 10-9 CU win on Sept. 15, 2012.

Including Saturday’s matchup, Columbia and Marist are scheduled to play four times in future years: Oct. 6, 2018 at Columbia; Sept. 18, 2021 at Columbia (season opener) and Sept. 17, 2022 at Marist (season opener).

ANDERS HILL NAMED SEMIFINALIST FOR NFF’S WILLIAM V. CAMPBELL TROPHY

Columbia senior quarterback Anders Hill was named one of 37 Football Championship Subdivision semifinalists for the National Football Foundation’s 2017 William V. Campbell Trophy, presented by Fidelity Investments. The award recognizes an individual as the absolute best scholar-athlete in the nation.

BLAKE WOODEN NAMED NFF CHAPTER SCHOLAR-ATHLETE

From the more than 1.1 million high school football players across the country, Columbia first-year defensive back Blake Wooden is one of five football student-athletes named as a prestigious 2017 National Football Foundation Chapter Scholar-Athlete, the NFF & College Football Hall of Fame announced Wednesday morning. Wooden will be presented with the award during the NFF Chapter Awards Luncheon presented by Under Armour on Tuesday, Dec. 5 in New York City.

A native of Pembroke Pines, Fla., Wooden has seen action in each of Columbia’s first three games of the 2017 season, primarily on special teams. Currently enrolled at Columbia College, Wooden is described as an intense competitor on the field as well as in the classroom. The son of former NFL and Notre Dame football player Shawn Wooden, Wooden gained a reputation as a physical presence while playing safety for state power American Heritage School in Plantation, Fla. A three-year letterman and team captain his senior year, he led the Patriots to a perfect 14-0 season and the Class 5A state championship in 2016, a 10-2 record and district title as a junior and was a member of the 2014 state title team as a sophomore. In the classroom, Wooden distinguished himself as an excellent role model, graduating with a weighted 5.56 GPA. A National Merit finalist his senior year, he was named the Class 5A Scholar-Athlete of the Year and the Junior Orange Bowl Scholar-Athlete of the Year. While earning AP Scholar with Distinction honors, he notched high honor student accolades during all four years of high school.

Amassing more than 326 community service hours, Wooden volunteered with Feeding South Florida, the pediatric oncology unit at Broward General Hospital and the Einstein Medical Center. A two-time captain and all-district selection in lacrosse, he was also a member of the National Honor Society, the Pre-Med Society and Rho Kappa National Social Studies Honor Society. Wooden was nominated from the Fort Lauderdale, Fla. NFF Chapter in the South Region.

BAGNOLI IN THIRD SEASON AT COLUMBIA HELM

Patricia and Shepard Alexander Head Coach of Football Al Bagnoli is in his third season guiding the Columbia Football program. In his 36th year as a head coach, Bagnoli owns a 243-113 overall record and previously led Penn to nine Ivy League titles. He has turned football programs around at both Union College, N.Y. and Penn, where he guided the Quakers to nine Ivy League championships.

In Ivy League records, he ranks among all-time Ivy League coaches in league titles (tied for No. 2 with 9), most games overall coached in the Ivy League (No. 2 at 251), most games coached vs. Ivy League teams (No. 2 with 176), most overall coaching wins in the Ivy League (No. 3 at 156), most coaching wins vs. Ivy League teams (No. 2 with 116) and most seasons coached in the Ivy League (No. 4 at 26th). Nationally and combining all NCAA levels, Bagnoli ranks No. 6 among winningest active college coaches by victories with 243. Among national FCS coaches, Bagnoli currently ranks No. 3 among winningest active coaches with 243 wins and No. 11 among all-time winningest FCS coaches by victories (243).

Bagnoli’s players have also achieved success with three former players taken in the NFL Draft, 23 have signed NFL free agent contracts, five have won the Ivy League’s Bushnell Cup Awards, eight have earned First Team All-America honors, 125 were All-Ivy League First Team selections and 203 earned All-Ivy League honors.

In his 36 years as a head coach, Bagnoli has experienced only four seasons of sub-.500 football.

CLOSE CALLS AND TIGHTLY CONTESTED GAMES

Since Al Bagnoli took over as head coach in 2015, Columbia has been competitive in almost every game. Of Columbia’s 15 losses under Bagnoli, 11 have been decided by 10 points or fewer.

Five of Columbia’s seven losses in 2016 were decided by 10 points or less, while Columbia’s average margin of loss in 2016 was 12.0. A 35-point loss to Princeton on Oct. 1, 2016 and a 25-point loss at Penn on Oct. 25, 2016 were uncharacteristic of Bagnoli’s teams at Columbia. Additionally, the Lions were competitive in every game in 2015, Bagnoli’s first season at Columbia, as six of their eight losses were decided by 10 points or less. In contrast, during its 10 losses in 2014, Columbia lost all 10 games by a combined 28.6 points per loss.

Since Bagnoli became Columbia’s head coach at the start of the 2015 season, 14 of Columbia’s 23 total games have been decided by 10 points or less. Columbia has also won eight of those contests.

COLUMBIA BEATS PRINCETON 28-24; STARTS SEASON AT 3-0 FOR FIRST TIME SINCE 1996

With 1:12 to play and the Lions trailing by three points, wide receiver Ronald Smith caught a pass from quarterback Anders Hill and raced 63 yards down the middle of the field for the game winning touchdown as Columbia defeated Princeton 28-24 Saturday at Powers Field at Princeton Stadium. The victory gave Columbia its first 3-0 start to a season since 1996, its first win in an Ivy League season opener since 2010 and its fourth consecutive victory and longest win streak since 1996.

Smith finished the game with a school and stadium record 236 yards receiving on 10 catches including two touchdowns and Hill threw for career-highs of 400 yards and 27 completions along with two touchdowns. Columbia’s defense also forced four Princeton turnovers including three interceptions and a fumble recovery and stopped the Princeton offense three times in the red zone.

Defending Ivy League champion Princeton (2-1, 0-1 Ivy League) battled back to take a 24-21 lead with 2:48 left in the game when quarterback Chad Kanoff’s 27-yard pass was caught by Stephen Carlson in the end zone.

With just 2:43 to go, Columbia drove 79 yards in six plays for the game-winning score. Hill began the drive with a six-yard run, then found first-year Josh Wainwright and senior Chris Schroer for receptions of 10 and 17 yards respectively. Following a four-yard catch by first-year Emerson Kabus and a holding penalty, Hill hit Smith open on a slant route and Smith beat his defender and raced down the middle of the field into the end zone.

On Princeton’s final offensive possession and with the Tigers driving down the field, sophomore defensive back Ben McKeighan picked off a Kanoff pass to secure Columbia’s first road win at Princeton in eight years. It was McKeighan’s second pick of the day.

The two teams combined for 910 total offensive yards and 43 first downs.

Columbia took a commanding 21-14 lead with 12:09 left in the third quarter when first-year Josh Bean scored on a two-yard run up the middle. The seven-play, 62-yard scoring drive was sparked by a 38-yard kickoff return by Will Allen, two Smith receptions of 23 and 15 yards respectively and a 19-yard catch Kabus. It was Bean’s third touchdown run in three game. 

A 26-yard field goal Princeton’s Tavish Rice cut the deficit to 21-17 with 3:27 left in the third quarter.

In the fourth quarter, the Lions’ defense held off Princeton two times as the Tigers drove deep into Columbia territory. After Princeton intercepted a pass, the Tigers drove 62 yards down to the Columbia three-yard line, where the Lions forced a fourth and goal play after forcing two incomplete passes and stopping a run for no gain. On fourth and goal, Columbia forced an incomplete pass and the Lions took over on downs. After Princeton blocked a Columbia punt on the ensuing possession, the Tigers drove 51 yards to Columbia’s three-yard line where senior safety Landon Baty stripped the ball from quarterback Kevin Davidson on a first and goal play.

Princeton grabbed a 7-0 lead on the opening possession when it took the opening kickoff and drove 80 yards in 10 plays as Kanoff found Jesper Horsted for a nine-yard scoring pass. Columbia answered and tied the contest at 7-7 when Hill found Smith for a 46-yard touchdown pass, his first score of the day. On the play, Hill lobbed a pass over the Princeton defender and Smith hauled it in and rambled into the end zone. The score completed an 86-yard scoring drive spanning five minutes and 11 plays.

Princeton went up 14-7 with 8:21 in the second quarter when Kanoff hit Horsted for a 14-yard touchdown reception following a seven-play, 80-yard drive. The Lions tied the game at 14-14 when sophomore Tanner Thomas scored on an 11-yard misdirection run. The play followed a four-play, 50-yard scoring drive. Columbia intercepted two first half passes but could not convert on either turnover and missed a field goal as the score stood at 14-14 at halftime

On offense, Columbia totaled 448 yards of total offense as the Lions were led by Smith’s record-breaking 236-yard, two-touchdown and 10-catch day, Hill, who completed 27 of 40 passes for 400 yards and two touchdowns, Wainwright, who finished with seven receptions for 78 yards and sophomore Tanner Thomas who rushed for a career-high 58 yards on 15 carries. Defensively, the Lions forced four turnovers including two interceptions from McKeighan, a Sean White interception and a fumble recovery by Baty. Junior Ryan Gilbert led the Lions with a career-high 14 tackles, including nine in the first half, White totaled a career-high 11 tackles, Baty finished with nine tackles and sophomore linebacker Michael Murphy finished with seven tackles.

Princeton was led by Kanoff, who completed 24 of 40 passes for 312 yards and three touchdowns, Carlson, who caught eight passes for 146 yards and a touchdown and Horsted, who made eight receptions for 96 yards and a two touchdowns. On defense, Princeton was led by Thomas Johnson, who made 13 tackles.

COLUMBIA-PRINCETON POST-GAME NOTES

  • Columbia wore all white uniforms, white pants, white jerseys, white helmets.
  • The win gave Columbia its first 3-0 start since the 1996 season when it won six straight games.
  • The victory was Columbia’s first win to start Ivy League play since it defeated Princeton 42-14 on Oct. 2, 2010.
  • Columbia won its fourth consecutive game. The last time Columbia won four straight games was in 1996 when the Lions were victorious in six straight contests from Sept. 21-Nov. 2, 1996.
  • Sophomore wide receiver Ronald Smith set a school and Princeton Stadium record with a career-high 236 receiving yards on 10 receptions. He also tied a career-high with two touchdown receptions and caught two TD passes for the second consecutive game. He surpassed Columbia’s previous receiving yards record of 214 yards set by Bill Wazevich vs. Princeton on October 7, 1967. His game-winning 63-yard touchdown reception marked the longest reception of his career. It was also his third 100-yard receiving game of his career and he now has eight career touchdown receptions. At halftime, Smith had six catches for 120 yards and a touchdown. His previous career-high for receiving yards was 195 yards and his career-high for receptions still stands at 11 vs. Yale last year.
  • Senior Anders Hill surpassed career-highs for passing yards (400) and completions (27). The 400 passing yards marks the sixth most in school history and the last Columbia quarterback to pass for 400 or more yards was Sean Bracket on Nov. 12, 2011 when he threw for 409 yards vs. Cornell. Hill has now thrown for at least one touchdown pass in seven consecutive games. In addition, the Columbia’s last 300-yard passing game was on Oct. 27, 2012 when Bracket threw for 328 yards. Hill’s previous career-highs were 289 yards vs. Yale last year and 24 completions (two times vs. both Yale and Cornell last year). Hill completed 27 of 40 attempts for 400 yards and two touchdowns.
  • Columbia passed for 400 yards on the day. The last time a Columbia team threw for 400 or more yards was on Nov. 12, 2011 vs. Cornell (409 yards).
  • Ben McKeighan finished the day with a career-high two interceptions. The last time a Columbia player intercepted two passes in a game was on Oct. 27, 2014 against Dartmouth when Trevor Bell picked off two passes. His interception in the first quarter marked Columbia’s first pick of the season.
  • Columbia took advantage of four Princeton turnovers today including three interceptions and a fumble recovery. Columbia registered zero turnovers in its first two games.
  • Princeton’s touchdown on the opening drive marked the first score against Columbia in the first half this season. Prior to today, Columbia had outscored its opponents 35-0.
  • Junior safety Ryan Gilbert finished with a career-high and team-leading 14 tackles. He had nine tackles, including seven solo in the first half alone.
  • Junior linebacker Sean White finished with a career-high 11 tackles and picked off the first pass of his career in the second quarter. He returned it 30 yards.
  • Sophomore Tanner Thomas scored the third career touchdown, an 11-yard run in the second quarter following a four-play, 50-yard drive. It was his first touchdown of the 2017 season. With his 58 yards rushing, Thomas established a career-high in rushing yards.
  • First-year Josh Bean scored a rushing touchdown for the third straight game. He scored on a two-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. He has three career rushing touchdowns.
  • Columbia senior safety Landon Baty registered his first career fumble recovery when he stripped a Princeton ball carrier of the ball in the fourth quarter.
  • First-year Emerson Kabus finished with career-highs of four catches for 34 yards.
  • Columbia successfully recovered an onside kick in the third quarter. Junior wide receiver Kyle Castner made the recovery.
  • With his four converted point after attempts, sophomore placekicker Oren Milstein has converted 27 consecutive PATs. 
  • Sophomore wide receiver Josh Wainwright’s five-game TD streak came to an end.

COLUMBIA SECURES BACK-TO-BACK TOP-25 RECRUITING CLASSES; CLASS OF 2017 RANKS NO. 25 NATIONALLY

Columbia Football’s 31-member Class of 2017 was ranked No. 25 nationally in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision by Hero Sports as writer Brian McLaughlin comments and notes that “Bagnoli hauls in his second straight stellar class.”

It was the second consecutive top-25 recruiting class for Columbia as the Class of 2016, Bagnoli’s first full recruiting class, was ranked No. 3 in the FCS by 247Sports.com Saturday Blitz. Both of these classes represent the highest-ever ranked recruiting classes in Columbia’s football history. They will also form the foundation for Bagnoli and the coaching staff to turn around the program.

Columbia Football’s Class of 2017 is comprised of student-athletes from 18 different states including five from Florida, three each from New Jersey and California and two athletes apiece from Texas, Illinois, North Carolina, Georgia, Michigan and Tennessee. In addition, Columbia’s Football Class of 2021 consists of 14 All-State honorees, 11 student-athletes who guided their high school teams to either a state title or state finals appearance, 19 team captains, 24 multi-sport athletes, 27 players who earned all-conference honors along with one transfer student-athlete.

Two first-years are listed on Columbia’s depth chart: Will Allen (starting kickoff returner) and Emerson Kabus (backup kickoff returner/backup wide receiver).

SOPHOMORE CLASS MAKES IMMEDIATE IMPACT IN 2016

Columbia’s 2016 recruiting class made an immediate impact last season as 21 players out of the 41-member class earned prominent playing time as first-years in 2016. At the skill positions, Tanner Thomas and Lynnard Rose saw significant action at running back, while Josh Wainwright, Ronald Smith and Christian Everett made major contributions at receiver.

Twelve freshmen concluded the year listed on the depth chart. First-years listed on the 2016 depth chart included Smith (WR), Wainwright (WR, KR, PR), Jalen Williams (LB), Christian Everett (WR), Parker Coogan (C), Oren Milstein (PK), Tanner Thomas (RB), Lynnard Rose (RB/PR/KR), Michael Murphy (LB), Hunter Lunsford (SS), Daniel DeLorenzi (DL), Rory Schlageter (TE) and Arman Samouk (DL).

ANDERS HILL LEADS COLUMBIA OFFENSE AT QUARTERBACK

For the second straight year senior Anders Hill is back as Columbia’s starting quarterback. He returns to anchor an offense that improved with every game in 2016 and looks even more polished in 2017. It also the second consecutive year that Columbia has employed the same offensive system.

Hill has started 11 consecutive games and in those 11 starts, has guided Columbia to a 6-5 record. Already in 2017 has completed 61.5 percent of his passes (59 of 96) for 757 yards and seven touchdowns and ranks third on the Lions in rushing yards with 81 on 37 carries. He ranks among the nation’s top-25 statistical leaders in two categories: No. 24 in passing yards per game (252.3) and No. 16 in total offense (279.3) and is listed among the Ivy League’s top three leaders in virtually every passing category.

One under-the-radar statistical category that stands out is Hill’s efficiency and success on third downs. Coming into Saturday’s game, on third downs, Hill has incredibly completed 23 of 31 passes for 398 yards and four touchdowns and has converted first downs 18 times.

Upon entering into the 2017 season, most impressive and most memorable is what Hill accomplished over Columbia’s final three games of the 2016 season against Harvard, Cornell and Brown. The three-game span saw him complete 60 percent (49 of 82) of his passes for 616 yards, six touchdowns and only four interceptions. In combining his previous five starts, Hill has completed 58.7 percent (81 of 138) of his passes for 973 yards, 11 touchdowns and six interceptions. Over that span, he has averaged 194.6 yards passing and 16.2 completions per game.

Hill has improved in virtually every aspect including his conditioning and strength.

COLUMBIA BRINGS THE DEFENSE

Over the last three seasons, Columbia’s defense has proved to be a team strength. Defensive coordinator Paul Ferraro has guided a unit that ranked among the nation’s best in a variety of statistical categories. So far this year, Columbia’s defense has allowed just 17.3 points per game (No. 20 nationally) and it ranks No. 6 nationally in red zone defense (57.1%). In addition, opponents have converted just 27.3 percent of their third downs (No. 7 nationally), zero percent of their fourth downs (No. 1 nationally) and 50 percent of their first downs (No. 5 nationally).

In 2016, Columbia ranked among national leaders in third down conversion defense (No. 5, 29.3), first down defense (No. 7, 177.0) and team tackles for loss (No. 14, 7.6 per game). In addition, Columbia ranked a respectable No. 39 in total defense (354.9 yards allowed per game) and No. 43 in scoring defense (24.7 points per game allowed).

Ferraro returned six starters from the 2016 team, including all four defensive linemen: Dominic Perkovic, Ivy League Second Team pick Lord Hyeamang, Connor Heeb and Mike Hinton, along with defensive backs in Ivy League Second Team selection Cameron Roane and Landon Baty. Additionally, the Lions return seven of their top-8 defensive linemen, five linebackers with in-game experience and senior cornerback Denzel Hill, who emerged at the tailend of 2016. Most importantly, the Lions must find a way to replace the loss of three starting linebackers—Ivy League First Team selection Gianmarco Rea, Keith Brady and Christian Conway—who anchored last year’s defense by accounting for 36 percent of the Lions’ total tackles.

Success on third down was a strength of last year’s defense as Columbia led the league and ranks No. 5 nationally on third down efficiency, holding opponents to a 29.3 percent conversion rate (49-166).

Columbia’s defensive success is a carryover from the 2015 season—Ferraro’s first season at Columbia—which saw a tremendous leap in defensive efficiency, as Columbia improved from the 115th best team in total defense in 2014, to the No. 8 ranked team at 291.1 yards per game a season ago.

The Lions also yielded just 19.8 points per game which ranked as the FCS’s No. 17 best tally, while holding opponents to 13 points or less four times. It also ranked No. 2 in the Ivy League in total defense and led the conference in pass defense (186.9 yards per game). In addition, Columbia ranked No. 8 nationally in rushing defense (103.4 yards per game), No. 5 in third down conversion defense (.265) and No. 3 in first down conversion defense (148). The defense also accumulated 23 sacks for 140 yards, which ranked No. 4 in the Ivy League.

DYNAMIC DUO: WIDE RECEIVER TANDEM BACK

Columbia returns the most dangerous wide receiver tandem in the Ivy League in sophomores Josh Wainwright and Ronald Smith II. The duo entered the 2017 campaign as a bit of an unknown league-wide as most of their key performances occurred during the back end of the 2016 season.

Already this season, Wainwright and Smith have accounted for 54 percent of Columbia’s offense, combined for 69.5 percent of the Lions’ receptions (41 of 59), 83.5 percent of their receiving yards (632 of 757) and scored 63.6 percent of the Lions’ touchdowns (7 of 11).

In 2016, Wainwright led the Lions in receptions (42), receiving yards (515) and touchdown receptions (5). He also caught a touchdown pass in each of Columbia’s last three games in 2016 and also finished second on the squad in all-purpose yardage with 800. He finished fifth in the Ivy League in both receptions per game and receiving yards per game, seventh in the league in all-purpose yards per game and also caught an 88-yard touchdown reception, Columbia’s longest scoring play of 2016.

In only five games and two starts, Smith led Columbia in yards per reception (16.3) and receiving yards per game (68.4) while finishing with 21 catches for 342 yards and four touchdowns. His most outstanding performance came in an 11-catch, 195-yard outing vs. Cornell last year.

DEFENSIVE LINE IS TEAM STRENGTH

Upon entering the 2017 season, Columbia’s defensive line is easily the Lions’ most experienced and deepest position group. Columbia Defensive Line Coach Darin Edwards returns a host of lineman to the squad in 2017. All four starters and seven of its eight top players return to the squad including Second Team All-Ivy League selection Lord Hyeamang, senior Dominic Perkovic, senior Connor Heeb and junior Mike Hinton. A senior, Hyeamang ranked sixth on the team in tackles with 38 (17 solo) and fourth on the team in tackles for loss (7.0-22), along with a forced a fumble in 2017. He was named one of four team captains this spring. Another defensive tackle, Perkovic started seven of eight games and contributed 31 tackles (12 solo) and 3.5 for loss while battling injuries in 2016. Both Heeb (22 tackles) and Hinton (16 tackles) started all 10 games at defensive end last year.

But it doesn’t end there. In addition to the starters, several returning players earned significant playing time last season. Those players include senior Alex Holme, sophomore Daniel DeLorenzi and sophomore Arman Samouk. Holme, who made 24 tackles in 10 games and three starts last year is basically a fifth starter, stalwart on the line and key contributor on special teams. DeLorenzi, who saw action in nine games and emerged as the season wore on, was a terror last year on third down as he led the Lions in both sacks (5-23) and quarterback hurries (seven). He also made 16 tackles, including 6.0 for loss. Samouk played in nine of 10 games last season and made eight tackles with one sack.

MILSTEIN IMPRESSES DURING FIRST SEASON AS PLACEKICKER

Unanimous First Team All-Ivy League selection and sophomore Oren Milstein returns as Columbia’s placekicker after a breakout 2016 season.

Already in 2017, Milstein converted a last-second game-winning 29-yard field goal to defeat Wagner in the season opener and scored 10 points in two games including converting all 11 of his PAT attempts. The game-winning field goal marked the third game-winner of Milstein’s collegiate career in only 10 games played. In those 10 games played, Milstein is 13 of 16 on field goal attempts and is a perfect 27 of 27 in point after atttempts.

Last year, Milstein converted 12 of 13 field goals and finished a perfect 16-16 on point after attempts. A candidate for the Fred Mitchell Award (national placekicker of the year), Milstein ranked among national leaders in both field goal percentage (No. 2 at .923) and field goals per game (No. 15 at 1.23), while leading the Ivy League in field goals (12), field goal percentage (.923) and placing second in kick scoring (5.7 ppg.). He also led the Lions in scoring (52 points) and kicked two clutch game-winning field goals in wins over Wagner and Dartmouth.

A two-time Ivy League Special Teams Player of the Week and Rookie of the Week dual honoree, Milstein also set school records for most field goals made (5 at Wagner, Oct. 8), and most kick scoring points scored in a game (15 at Wagner, Oct. 8).

CASTNER EMERGES AS KEY WIDE RECEIVER

The surprise of Columbia’s preseason has been the play of junior Kyle Castner, who made a position switch from quarterback to wide receiver last spring. Prior to last spring, Castner had never played wide receiver, instead spending his entire football career as a quarterback.

In three starts this year, Castner has four catches for 34 yards.

He was recruited as a QB out of Indianapolis Ben Davis High School, where as a three-year starter at quarterback, concluded his career with a 28-7 career record, 6,944 yards passing and 63 touchdowns - both school records. He spent his first two years at Columbia as a backup quarterback.

“Kyle Castner’s transition has been unbelievable,” Wide Receivers Coach Todd Gilcrist said. “It’s a situation where he never played the position before. He had a spring where he showed some flashes of some skills, worked on it this summer and came back here and positioned himself as one of the top receivers.”

YOUTHFUL LINEBACKER CORPS

Columbia lost all three of its starting linebackers from the 2016 team. All three graduated and were at least two-year starters. Those players included First Team All-Ivy League selection and middle linebacker Gianmarco Rea and outside linebackers Keith Brady and Christian Conway. A candidate for Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year, Rea enjoyed one of the best defensive seasons ever experienced by a Columbia player as he led the Ivy League in tackles (108), ranked 12th nationally in solo tackles (5.8 per game), led the Lions and ranked No. 23 nationally in tackles for loss (15-46), made five sacks and six quarterback hurries. He also reached double figure tackles in nine of 10 games on the year and concluded his four-year 35-game career with 218 tackles (110 solo), 20 tackles for loss and 6.0 sacks. Brady ranked third on the team in tackles (71) and totaled 9.5 tackles for loss, while Conway contributed 65 tackles (35 solo), four sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss. Those three players accounted 36 percent (244 of 680) of Columbia’s tackles and comprised three of the team’s top four tacklers in 2016. Their experience will be difficult to replace.

Replacing Columbia’s trio is a talented and athletic group who all have collegiate game experience. Among those emerging as key contributors and earning starting roles include sophomore middle linebacker Jalen Williams (11 tackles, 3 QB hurries), sophomore Michael Murphy (14 tackles), junior Sean White (23 tackles, INT, 3 BrU), junior Calvin Falkenhayn (5 tackles, 2.0 TFL, 1.0 sack) and senior Parker Tobia. Williams, White and Murphy have all earned starts in each of the three games, but the entire unit has emerged as a team strength.

Last year, Williams played in eight games, made five tackles and contributed primarily on special teams. He has started each of the first two games at middle linebacker. Murphy made seven tackles in seven games and also saw action on special teams, while White saw action in nine games. That duo has earned starts in each of Columbia’s first two games. Tobia is a three-year senior who has seen action at both linebacker and on special teams. Falkenhayn came off the bench and made five tackles and a sack against Georgetown.

LIONS IN THE NFL

Three former Columbia football players saw action on National Football League teams during preseason 2017 including linebacker Joshua Martin (New York Jets), offensive lineman Jeff Adams (New York Jets) and offensive lineman Kendall Pace (Washington Redskins). Martin remains with the Jets as their starting linebacker.

Over the last 13 years, Columbia has placed 10 players on NFL rosters. Throughout its football history, Columbia has had 40 student-athletes go on to play in the NFL. A total of 12 Lions have been taken in the NFL Draft. Some of Columbia’s most notable and longest tenured NFL players include: Josh Martin (five years), Marcellus Wiley (11 years), John Witkowski (four years), George Starke (11 years), Marty Domres (eight years), Paul Governali (three years), Johnny Siegal (four years), Bil Swiacki (five years) and Sid Luckman (11 years). Columbia’s all-time highest NFL Draft picks include first-rounders Sid Luckman, Paul Governali and Marty Domres, along with second-round pick Marcellus Wiley.

COLUMBIA SIGNS TV DEAL WITH SNY

Five Columbia Football games will be televised live on SportsNet NY (SNY) this fall, Columbia University Athletics announced on Sept. 8. With the agreement, SNY will also televise Columbia men’s and women’s basketball games.

The five games that will be carried on SNY are: Wagner (Saturday, Sept. 16), Georgetown (Saturday, Sept. 23), at Yale (Saturday, Oct. 28), at Cornell (Saturday, Nov. 11) and Brown (Saturday, Nov. 18). The five games will also be simulcast live on the Ivy League Network subject to local streaming blackout rules.

With a total distribution of nearly 12 million homes, SNY is available to viewers throughout New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Northeastern Pennsylvania for a regional reach of 8.0 million households. Combined with national coverage on DIRECTV, Verizon FiOS, Comcast Cable and AT&T U-Verse, SNY’s total distribution is 12 million homes. SNY is the official television home of the New York Mets, New York Jets and all things New York sports. As New York’s leader in local sports TV coverage, SNY delivers the most comprehensive access to all of the Tri-State area’s professional and collegiate sports teams through several nightly sports and entertainment programs.

ALL 10 COLUMBIA GAMES TO BE TELEVISED

With the addition of the five SNY games, all 10 Columbia Football games in 2017 will be aired live on a television network. As part of the Ivy League Network agreement, Eleven Sports Network will broadcast four Columbia football games including at Princeton (Sept. 30), Penn (Oct. 14), at Dartmouth (Oct. 21) and Harvard (Nov. 4). Columbia’s game at Marist on Oct. 7 will be aired on the Red Fox Network.

COLUMBIA: PUNTER U

Two former Columbia punters—2016 seniors Cameron Nizialek and Matt Panton—are now starting punters at their respective Southeastern Conference schools. Both players were given a fifth year of eligibility by the NCAA, but had expired their fourth year of Ivy League football. Nizialek, who led the Ivy League in punting average and earned Ivy League Second Team honors last year, is now attending graduate school and punting for Georgia, while Panton is attending grad school at Kentucky. Kentucky plays at Georgia on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017.

WHAT THEY’VE SAID ABOUT COLUMBIA IN 2016

“Columbia fans should be very proud. That program is going in the right direction with a Hall of Fame coach. Their defense didn’t give us much. It was a hard-fought, physical game. That’s a good Columbia football team over there. The future is very bright and there’s a lot of victories ahead for that team.”

- Saint Francis head coach Chris Villarrial.

“I think Al Bagnoli was sort of the Division III version of Nick Saban 30 years ago. He had a program that was perfectly designed from top to bottom, and he had great players. I think that was because he had the entire college on board with what he was trying to do.”

-Tim Layden, Sports Illustrated

“I give Columbia credit. They did some nice things, particularly on the defensive side of the ball, and got out of here with a win. So, my hat’s off to them. We knew coming in they were a team that was better than their record.”

-Jason Houghtaling, Wagner Head Coach

“I give Columbia credit. Columbia was very efficient offensively, their kicking game was solid and they played lights out on defense. They deserved to win. They shut us down offensively. Defensively, if you hold a team to nine points, you figure you’re going to win those games. It wasn’t through lack of effort, they beat us.”

-Buddy Teevens, Dartmouth Head Coach

CAPTAINS SELECTED

Columbia selected four captains for the 2017 season: defensive back Landon Baty, quarterback Anders Hill, defensive lineman Lord Hyeamang and offensive lineman Bewley Wales. All four are seniors and were named captains during spring drills.

OFFENSIVE LINE FEATURES EXPERIENCED UNIT

Once again, offensive line is one of Columbia’s most seasoned and experienced position groups. The Lions return four starters from 2016. Columbia’s four returning offensive line starters are senior left tackle Bewley Wales, senior left guard Charlie Flores, junior center Tyler Schonewolf and senior right tackle Markham Paukune. These four veterans enter game four of the 2017 season with a combined 72 career starts and a combined 91 career games played.

A four-year starter, leader of the group and one of four team captains is senior Bewley Wales. Wales has started all 33 games of his career on the offensive line while playing a different position each year. As a first-year, he started 10 games at left guard, moved to center as a sophomore and started all 10 games at right tackle. In CU’s first game vs. Wagner, he starte at left tackle. In addition, Wales has started 32 consecutive games.

At left guard, Flores has made 18 career starts and played in all 23 games of his career. He missed his sophomore season due to injury. A senior, Flores has an extra year of eligibility remaining. At center, Schonewolf started all 13 of his career games. At right tackle, Paukune has  started five games and has played in 18 career contests. Paukune and Flores both played on the same offensive line in high school (All Saints Episcopal in Fort Worth, Texas) and won back-to-back state titles while winning 22 straight games.

The newest member of the starting five is sophomore right guard Parker Coogan, who has made great strides in the weight room. Coogan served as Columbia’s backup center last year. He has started each of Columbia’s three games this year.

Through three games this year, Columbia has surrendered 11 sacks for 49 yards. Columbia did not yield a sack against Georgetown on Sept. 23.

BAGNOLI AND PENN

On October 14, Columbia will host Penn at Robert K. Kraft Field at Lawrence A. Wien Stadium for its 2017 Homecoming Game. The matchup will be the third matchup between Bagnoli and his former employer where he spent 23 seasons as the Quakers’ head coach from 1992-2014.  In 23 seasons, Bagnoli guided Penn to nine Ivy League championships (1993, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009, 2010 and 2012), a 148-89 overall record and 112-49 Ivy League record. He also led Penn to three undefeated seasons (10-0 in 1993, 9-0 in 1994 and 10-0 in 2003), 12 years of seven or more victories and six perfect 7-0 Ivy League slates. Bagnoli also guided Penn on the longest winning streak in FCS history (24 wins from 1993-95).

LIONS PICKED SEVENTH IN IVY LEAGUE

Columbia was picked to finish seventh out of eight teams in the Ivy League’s annual preseason poll, voted upon by media members covering the conference and announced on August 8, 2017.

Princeton and Harvard were picked to win the league in a tie with 120 total points. Princeton finished with six first place votes, while Harvard had five first place votes. Princeton and Harvard were followed by No. 3 Penn (five first-place votes) with 110 points, No. 4 Yale with 71 points and No. 5 Dartmouth with 60 points.

Here is a look at the predicted order:

  1. Princeton (6 first place votes) 120 points; 2. Harvard (5), 120; 3. Penn (5), 110; 4. Yale, 71; 5. Dartmouth, 60; 6. Brown (1), 57; 7. Columbia, 38; 8. Cornell, 36.

PRESEASON ACCOLADES

A total of five Lions were named to the College Sports Madness preseason All-Ivy League team, headlined by senior cornerback Cameron Roane and sophomore placekicker Oren Milstein, who were both named first team selections. Earning second team honors were senior defensive lineman Lord Hyeamang, sophomore defensive lineman Daniel DeLorenzi, while sophomore wide receiver Josh Wainwright was a third team honoree.

COACHING CONTIUNITY, STAFF REMAINS INTACT

For the second straight year, Columbia’s coaching staff remains intact. Prior to the 2016 season, Running Backs Coach/Passing Game Coordinator John Audino and Quarterbacks Coach Ricky Santos joined Bagnoli’s staff. The rest of the staff arrived at Columbia with Bagnoli shortly after his hiring in February 2015. In the offseason, the Lions added Defensive Assistant Andrae Murphy.

SEASON NO. 127

This year marks the 146th anniversary of Columbia’s first intercollegiate football game against Rutgers in 1870, one year after the first college game between Rutgers and Princeton. Columbia’s first Ivy League game was against Princeton in 1874. 2017 is the 127th competitive season of Columbia football.

FRIDAY’S ON THE LAWN

Columbia continues its tradition of conducting a Friday walk-through on the university’s main campus lawn prior to home football games. The event is open to the public.

IVY LEAGUE EXPERIMENTAL RULES

For the second year, the Ivy League will use experimental rules which move kickoffs to the 40-yard line and touchbacks to the 20-yard line in an effort to reduce concussions and further promote the safety and welfare of its student-athletes. These rules will only be used in Ivy League games. The goal of the experimental rule is to limit kickoff returns, which account for 23.4 percent of concussions during games despite representing only 5.8 percent of overall plays. The League will evaluate the concussion and kickoff return data after the 2016 season.

The request was made to the NCAA as a part of The Ivy League’s overall review of concussions, which began with football in 2010 and has included eight other sports to date (men’s and women’s lacrosse, men’s and women’s ice hockey, men’s and women’s soccer, wrestling and rugby). As a result of this comprehensive review of concussions, the League began an all-sports concussion data collection and study in 2013. Data from this study prompted discussion of kickoffs, which led to The Ivy League head football coaches suggesting this experimental rule change.

The NCAA granted The League’s request for conference games only.

This experimental rule is the latest in a series of Ivy policies and rules that are designed to limit the incidence of concussions. The Ivy League formally adopted another policy originating with the League’s eight head football coaches to eliminate to-the-ground (“live”) tackling in practices during the regular season, which will also go into effect with the 2016 campaign. Changing practice rules does not require NCAA approval. In addition, the Ivy League eliminated two-a-day practices during preseason with the 2017 season.

BILL CAMPBELL NO. 67 FEATURED ON JERSEYS

For the second consecutive year and for all of its 31 varsity sports, Columbia will wear a No. 67 patch on its uniform in honor of former Lion player, coach, confidante and friend Bill Campbell, who passed away in April, 2016 at age 75. The Lion football team will also feature 67 stickers on helmets.

A four-year student-athlete, Campbell captained the 1961 Ivy League Championship football team, which was inducted into the Columbia Athletics Hall of Fame in 2010 and earned All-Ivy League accolades as a senior. In 1963, Bill and a group of football and rugby alumni founded the Old Blue Rugby Club. He returned to Columbia to coach the Columbia Football team for six seasons between 1974 and 1979.

Campbell made his mark in the business world and became known as the “Coach of Silicon Valley.” He was vice president at J. Walter Thompson, an advertising agency based in New York, and then moved on to become general manager of consumer products for Kodak Europe. After Kodak, he joined Apple Computer in 1983, and rose to the level of executive vice president; he went on to found and served as president and CEO of Claris Corporation, a spin-off software developing company created and owned by Apple in 1990. Campbell assumed his role as chairman of Intuit, the maker of Quicken, QuickBooks, and Turbo Tax, in 1998 and served as its CEO until 2000. As an executive, Campbell’s marketing and strategic acumen helped build Claris, Apple, and Intuit alike into remarkable Silicon Valley success stories.

Because of his tremendous leadership and passion for Columbia Athletics, the University dedicated the Campbell Sports Center in his honor in October 2013. In fall 2014, the athletics program retired uniform number 67 – the number Campbell wore as an offensive lineman and linebacker for the 1961 Ivy League Champions - for all 31 of Columbia’s varsity teams. At the 2015 Varsity C Celebration, the athletics program introduced a new award, the William V. Campbell Performer of the Year to be presented annually to the top male and female student-athletes of the academic year.

BUBBLE AT BAKER OPENED IN JANUARY, 2017

Columbia varsity sports teams now have access to a brand-new indoor winter practice facility as the University officially opened its Seasonal Air-Supported Structure (SASS) at Rocco B. Commisso Soccer Stadium in January 2017.

Located at Columbia’s Baker Athletics Complex (corner of Broadway and 218th Street) and adjacent to the Campbell Sports Center, the Bubble at Baker is a heated air-supported dome enclosing Rocco B. Commisso Soccer Stadium and field. The facility also features a brand-new Field Turf Revolution 360 playing surface, which was installed in October. All seven of Columbia’s field sports teams housed at the Baker Athletics Complex (football, men’s soccer, women’s soccer, baseball, softball, field hockey and lacrosse) will receive access to the new indoor practice facility throughout the winter months. Starting next year, the bubble will be inflated each winter from December through March.

Funds for the Bubble at Baker project were raised by donors to Columbia Athletics.