Thirty-one seniors will be honored by Columbia Football in a pre-game ceremony prior to Saturday’s season finale against Brown at Robert K. Kraft Field. All 31 seniors contributed to Columbia’s success in a variety of ways.

 

The 2017 Senior Class arrived at Columbia for preseason camp as first-years in August 2014 and endured an 0-10 freshman year. Then a new coaching staff was hired and they adapted to a whole new philosophy and culture. They bought into what the coaching staff was saying and the group stayed the course and engineered a monumental program turnaround. From an 0-10 record as first-years in 2014 to a disappointing 2-8 and competitiveness in 2015 to feeling like they should have won more games in a 3-7 campaign in 2016. Then, all the hard work paid off with a breakthrough six-game win streak to start the 2017 season en route to their current 7-2 record as seniors. Along the way, the group improved both physically and mentally and became leaders and program changers. All the hard work paid off with success and the opportunity to compete for an Ivy League title. The class is a shining example of what can be achieved through focus, hard work, dedication and resiliency.

 

“If you look at the raw numbers of what this group of seniors had to go through and accomplish, it’s incredible,” Patricia and Shepard Alexander Head Coach of Football Al Bagnoli said. “They get here as freshmen and go 0-10. It was not pretty in terms of competitiveness. The average margin of victory for the opposition is 42-10. There is not one game where they’re within 18 points of a win except for the Cornell game. To come from that and to fast forward to where we are today and more importantly to keep a group of 34-35 recruited student-athletes and to keep 32 who are still invested in the program, that speaks volumes to the players themselves.”

 

“We continue to play meaningful games this late into the season, it’s a tremendous reflection of our entire program and it’s led by the seniors,” Bagnoli said. “They’ve endured some dark days, adapted to the new staff and they’ve done a tremendous job. I think this senior class is going to be defined by resiliency. Right now, you fast-forward it, and it’s a solid program on solid ground with a bright future. They can all really take great pride of being on the forefront of that success. It’s really good to see that their work has paid off and their belief in the coaching staff and our support staff has paid off.”

 

“To me, the seniors have the greatest respect from the coaching and support staff because what they accomplished is really difficult to do. It’s a unique group of players.”

 

Here is a list of each of the 31 seniors, their stories, some details about each that you didn’t know and some details about their career accomplishments:

 

LANDON BATY | Safety | Mountain View, Calif.

*Eligible to come back and compete for Columbia next year.

*Selected one of four team captains for the 2017 season.

*Ranks No. 20 nationally in interceptions per game (0.4).

*Playmaker who currently leads the Ivy League with four interceptions, has forced five turnovers this year and ranks second on the team in tackles (62).

*Has started 19 consecutive games at safety for Columbia.

*Father played eight seasons (1986-94) in the NFL for the New England Patriots, Los Angeles Rams and Miami Dolphins and also played tight end at Stanford.

*At Stanford, his father was coached by former Columbia head football coach Pete Mangurian.

*Older brother Turner played quarterback at UC Davis and now lives in New York City.

*Grandfather played football at Michigan.

*Majors in Political Science.

 

COLLIN BRECKENRIDGE | Defensive Lineman | Corpus Christi, Texas

*Defensive lineman who has earned three letters.

*Enrolled at Columbia College and majors in Political Science.

 

MARCUS BRISCOE | Tight End | Diamond Bar, Calif.

*Moved from wide receiver to tight end prior to fall drills.

*Limited due to injuries but has seen action in five games this year with one catch for five yards as a tight end and has seen extensive action on special teams.

*Played in 17 career games at Columbia despite suffering a variety of injuries.

*Missed the 2015 season due to injury.

*Caught 16 passes for 141 yards a touchdown as a first-year wide receiver in 2014.

*Played six different positions during high school football including wide receiver and linebacker.

*Majors in Political Science.

 

CLAY CARUSO | Linebacker | Strongsville, Ohio

*Linebacker who has earned three letters at Columbia and played in five career games with six tackles.

*Limited due to injuries this season.

*Three-sport athlete in high school: football, hockey and lacrosse.

*Father played football at the University of Pittsburgh.

*Majors in Economics

 

ZACH DANSBY | Tight End | Austin, Texas

*Has played in 17 career games at Columbia.

*Three-year letterman at tight end.

*Caught 12 passes for 105 yards as a first-year tight end in 2014.

*Enrolled in the Fu Foundation School of Engineering & Applied Science and majors in Civil Engineering & Engineering Mechanics.

 

TURNER DEMUTH | Linebacker | Whitefish Bay, Wis.

*Moved to linebacker from running back prior to 2017 season.

*Three-year letterman who has played in 17 career games at Columbia.

*Four-year career statistics include 35 carries for 118 yards and a touchdown and 15 receptions for 168 yards, along with five total tackles.

*Brother Garrett played football at Columbia (tight end).

*Organized the Jacked Jaclyn football fundraiser each year.

*Mentors local high school students through Project Rousseau.

*Member of the executive board for the Student Athlete Advisory Committee.

*Interned at Credit Suisse during the summer of 2017, an investment banking firm.

*Majors in Economics and Psychology.

 

PAT DENNY | Offensive Lineman | Pittsburgh, Pa.

*Did not see any action in 2017 but served as a student assistant coach.

*Three-year letterman on the offensive line.

*Offensive lineman from Pittsburgh, Pa.

*Interned at Democratic Governors Association in Washington, D.C. this past summer.

*Majors in Political Science and has plans to go into politics.

 

DAVID DONOVAN | Tight End | Linwood, N.J.

*Three-year letterman.

*Switched to linebacker from defensive line prior to fall drills.

*Saw action in seven career games with four tackles.

*Majors in Economics.

 

CONNOR HEEB | Defensive Lineman | Canandaigua, N.Y.

*Played in all 35 career games with 45 career total tackles.

*Ranks No. 9 nationally in blocked kicks on the year (2).

*Has made 19 consecutive starts at defensive end.

*This year, he has registered Columbia’s only safety, 20 total tackles, two blocked kicks and 4.5 tackles for loss.

*Frequent volunteer both in New York City and his hometown of Buffalo, N.Y.

*Majors in Economics.

 

ANDERS HILL | Quarterback | Boulder, Colo.

*One of 37 semifinalists nationwide for the Bill Campbell Trophy.

*In the FCS national rankings, is No. 18 nationally in completions per game (20.8), No. 22 in passing yards per game (247.6), No. 24 in total offense (262.8) and No. 25 in completion percentage (62%).

*Completed 62.5 percent of his passes (187 of 299) for 2,228 yards and 15 touchdowns and has rushed for 137 yards and three TDs on 103 carries.

*Is the current Columbia season recordholder for completion percentage (62.5%) and will conclude his career ranked among school season leaders in pass completions, passing yardage, touchdown passes, and total offense.

*Also ranks among career leaders in pass completions, passing yardage, touchdown passes and total offense.

*Named team captain entering his senior season.

*Emerged toward the end of the 2016 season as Columbia’s starting quarterback.

*2016 Academic All-Ivy League selection.

*Earned team Most Valuable Offensive Player Award in 2016.

*Pro-style quarterback who was named Colorado Quarterback of the Year and First Team All-State.

*As a high school senior, threw for the fourth-most yards (3,878) in Colorado state history. Also ranked No. 2 in state history in completed passes (283) and No. 2 in passing attempts (426).

*Denver Broncos fan.

*Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

*Majors in Political Science.

 

DENZEL HILL | Defensive Back | Waldorf, Md.

*Switched over to defensive back after playing his first three seasons at Columbia as a wide receiver.

*Earned first career start at cornerback in Columbia’s final game of the 2016 season vs. Brown and picked off a pass. Started five games at wide receiver.

*Has played in 32 career games with 10 career starts (five at WR and five at DB)

*Played and started in four games before suffering a season ending injury this year.

*Made eight tackles on the year.

*Earned a fifth year of football eligibility this offseason.

*Stands 6-foot-3-inches and weighs 200 pounds, big for a cornerback.

*Waldorf, Md. native who was a standout track and field athlete in high school.

*Majors in Architecture.

 

ALEXANDER HOLME | Defensive Lineman | Oakland, Calif.

*Key contributor on the defensive line and on special teams.

*Has played in 34 career games with 77 career tackles.

*Has made 21 tackles (eight solo) and 2.0 tackles for loss this year.

*California native who always attends photo day with a California state flag in order to take a photo with the other players from California.

*Attended same high school as former Columbia basketball point guard Kendall Jackson.

*Works a variety of athletics events at Columbia. Has been spotted at tennis matches, men’s and women’s basketball games and other events.

*Enrolled at the Earth Institute.

 

TYLER HOLMES | Defensive Back | Virginia Beach, Va.

*Defensive back and key contributor on special teams.

*Has made four tackles in nine games played this year.

*Played in 29 career games.

*Played high school football with Columbia teammate and fellow senior Greg Washington. Along with Washington, became the first two student-athletes to attend an Ivy League institution from the Hampton Roads area in 10 years.

*Served as a student-teacher in the Dominican Republic as part of a program called Outreach360.

*Serves as treasurer of Columbia University’s Black Student Organization and is also involved with the Men of Color Alliance.

*Frequent volunteer at community organizations including local schools, homeless shelters and sports camps.

*Majors in Political Science.

 

LORD HYEAMANG | Defensive Lineman | Lakeville, Minn.

*Named one of four team captains upon heading into the 2017 season.

*Second Team All-Ivy League selection as a junior defensive tackle.

*Has made 21 tackles (nine solo) with 5.0 tackles for loss and 2.0 sacks this year.

*Has played in 38 career games and totaled 61 tackles and 14.0 tackles for loss in career.

*Can squad 595 pounds and bench press 445 pounds.

*Played the tuba in high school.

*Has a brother Prince, who competes in wrestling at American University.

*Did not start playing football until the eighth grade and did not wrestle until the ninth grade.

*Interned at Columbia University Medical Center this summer.

*Pre-Med but majors in Psychology.

 

MICHAEL MCGRATH, Offensive Lineman | Berlin, N.J.

*Offensive lineman who contributes on special teams and short yardage situations.

*Played in all nine games in 2017 and has seen action in 17 career contests.

*Columbia’s biggest player at 6-feet-6-inches tall and 345 pounds,

*Served as executive editor of first and second annual Literary Arts Magazine at St. Augustine Prep.

*Majors in Political Science.

 

CHARLES MELKA | Defensive Lineman | Glen Ellyn, Ill.

*Three-year letterman who has seen action in three games.

*Older brother Nicholas lettered in football at Columbia in 2012 and 2013 and graduated in 2015.

*Also competed in track and field during high school.

*Majors in Political Science.

 

MARKHAM PAUKUNE | Offensive Lineman | Fort Worth, Texas

*Eligible to come back and compete for Columbia next year.

*Played in 25 career games with 11 starts on the offensive line.

*Has started all 11 games this year at right tackle.

*Played at same high school, All Saints Episcopal School, as Columbia teammates Charlie Flores and Ryan Suitt. Flores and him played side-by-side on the offensive line at All Saints Episcopal.

*Involved in community service through his family’s outreach foundation.

*Standout baseball and football player in high school, who also played goalie in soccer and basketball.

*Majors in Political Science.

 

DOMINIC PERKOVIC | Defensive Lineman | Bloomfield Hills, Mich.

*Played in 36 games with 29 starts and has made 94 total tackles.

*Made 23 tackles, 4.0 tackles for loss and 2.0 sacks in nine games this year.

*Won two state football championships at Michigan football powerhouse Birmingham Brother Rice High School.

*Older brother Sergio is an All-American lacrosse player at Notre Dame.

*Involved in a variety of volunteer activities including working on a garden, where all harvest was donated to local New York City soup kitchens.

*Worked a four-month internship at Kids in the Game in New York as a financial intern and also as a camp counselor and coach.

*Majors in Political Science.

 

BAILEY POPECK | Tight End | Olive Branch, Miss.

*Tight end who also serves as a long snapper on special teams.

*Brother Ben played football at Columbia from 2009-11.

*Grandfather played football at the University of Wyoming.

*Interned at the Jordanian Foreign Ministry in 2012 and at the Royal Jordanian Air Academy in Amman, Jordan in 2013, working with Iraq Air Force personnel undergoing aviation training.

*Hobbies and interests include football, fishing and diving.

*Majors in Political Science.

 

CAMERON ROANE | Defensive Back | Durham, N.C.

*Has emerged as one of the Ivy League’s top cover cornerbacks.

*All-Ivy League Second Team selection as a junior in 2016.

*Played in 34 career games, made 75 career tackles, one interception and 18 pass breakups.

*Leads the Lions with seven pass breakups and has made 24 tackles on the year.

*First high school player in Durham Riverside High School history to play in the Ivy League and first player since 2006 to sign on to play NCAA Division I football.

*Majors in Architecture.

 

BENJAMIN ROBBINS | Offensive Lineman | Fallston, Md.

*Played in 10 career games on the offensive line.

*Football, lacrosse and track and field standout in high school.

*Majors in Political Science.

 

CHRIS SCHROER | Running Back | Cincinnati, Ohio

*A two-time CoSIDA Academic All-District selection (2016 and 2017).

*Ranks seventh in the Ivy League in rushing after registering back-to-back 100-yard rushing games (183 on 27 carries vs. Cornell and 125 on 24 carries vs. Harvard) in each of Columbia’s last two games.

*Leads the Lions in rushing with 548 yards and a touchdown on 114 carries. Also has caught 15 passes for 134 yards and a touchdown.

*Has played in 32 career games with three starts and rushed for 830 yards and two TDs on 194 carries and caught 30 passes for 267 yards and a TD.

*Earned the Class of 1913 Memorial Cup Trophy in 2016 for his dedication in the classroom.

*Once scored five touchdowns and rushed for 259 yards in a high school game.

*Student council president in high school.

*Involved with the Columbia Sports Business Society.

*Interned with Major League Soccer this summer.

*Majors in Sociology with a special concentration in business management.

 

REID STABLES | Offensive Lineman | Littleton, Colo.

*Three-year letterman.

*Dean’s List student and recognized with a perfect 4.0 grade point average in 2017.

*Organized the Jacked Jaclyn football fundraiser.

*Majors in Psychology with a concentration in business management.

 

LIAM TALTY, Defensive Lineman | Eugene, Ore.

*Three-year letterman.

*Has played in two games in his career.

*Three-sport athlete who played basketball, football and competed in track and field.

*Majors in Political Science.

 

PARKER THOME | Punter | Hortonville, Wis.

*Team’s punter who has also contributed as a holder and as a wide receiver.

*Ranks No. 14 nationally and leads the Ivy League in punting (42.7 yards per punt).

*Has 43 punts for 1,837 total yards for a 42.7 yards per punt average. Has a long of 66 yards, five touchbacks, 10 fair catches and placed 18 punts inside the 20-yard line.

*Also has kicked eight punts traveling 50 yards or more.

*Works as a research assistant at the University of Wisconsin Department of Surgery.

*Columbia Dean’s List student.

*Class Valedictorian in high school.

*Majors in Biological Sciences.

 

PARKER TOBIA | Linebacker | Park Ridge, N.J.

*Played in all nine games with 10 tackles on the year.

*Has seen action in 17 career games with 13 tackles.

*Worked at the Columbia Medical Center in the Neurological Institute in 2016.

*Dean’s List student at Columbia.

*Majors in Pre-Med: Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology.

 

IAN TYLER | Defensive Lineman | Muskegon, Mich.

*Three-year letterman.

*Missed the entire 2017 season with a preseason injury.

*Has played in 22 career games with 17 career tackles.

*Interned at the National Football League this summer.

*Has the unique distinction of having attended the same high school, Muskegon Catholic Central as his grandfather, grandmother and father. He also was the Class Valedictorian, the same honor his grandmother achieved.

*Accumulated over 500 hours of community service.

*Committed to Columbia the day he helped his team win a state title.

*Majors in Sociology.

 

BEWLEY WALES | Offensive Lineman | Tulsa, Okla.

*Named team captain upon entering the 2017 season.

*Only three-year starter in the 2017 senior class who has started 39 consecutive games.

*Started games at three different positions: left tackle in 2017, right tackle in 2016, center in 2015 and left guard in 2014.

*Father started at linebacker at the University of Tulsa (1988-90).

*Majors in Political Science.

 

GREG WASHINGTON | Defensive Lineman | Chesapeake, Va.

*Three-year letterman who saw action in three games.

*Attended same high school as Columbia teammate Tyler Holmes. Along with Holmes, became the first two student-athletes to attend an Ivy League institution from the Hampton Roads area in 10 years.

*Majors in Sociology and Business Management concentration.

 

DYLAN WELDON | Defensive Back | Las Vegas, Nev.

*Three-year letterman.

*Played in 16 career games as both a defensive back and wide receiver.

*Saw action in three games at defensive back as a junior and caught seven passes for 37 yards and a touchdown as a sophomore wide receiver.

*Also competed in track and field (jumps).

*Majors in Political Science.

 

NOAH ZGRABLICH | Kicker | Granada Hills, Calif.

*Has played in 16 career games as a placekicker and kickoff specialist.

*Career statistics include 18 kickoffs for 1,013 yards, converted 13 of 14 extra points and 2-6 on field goals.

*Missed the 2016 season due to injury.

*Two-year letterman.

*Placekicker specialist (field goals, extra points, kickoffs and punts).

*Majors in Pre-Law/Political Science.