With senior Phil Rigueur back from sabbatical and the rest of the defensive backfield and year older and more experienced, the Cornell secondary should be convincing enough this year to make teams think twice before putting the ball in the air.
Rigueur missed last season due to personal reasons, but will suit up this upcoming season at free safety.
“It feels great, just getting back to the flow of things, being back on the field, going out and just playing football,” Rigueur said. “You feel like you’re missing part of your life. Football’s filled that void.”
Joining him in the safety positions will be senior John Algeo and junior Cory Ziskind.
Algeo, who started at Cornell as a quarterback, switched to the defensive side of the ball last season. Starting at free safety in 1999, he made 52 tackles and a team-high four interceptions, including a pair in the 42-14 victory against Fordham. He also returned a 65-yard fumble return for a score against Brown.
Though he should see plenty of time at strong safety, Algeo has missed a bit of practice so far, opening the door for Ziskind.
After moving from running back to the secondary last year, he spent most of his playing time in special teams.
“It’s been kind of hard to find a home for Cory,” explained head coach Pete Mangurian. “He’s got great ability and he’s really come into his own. He had a great spring [practice].
“Cory’s the beneficiary of John missing a lot of time,” he added.
Eric Jones, a freshman from Florida may also see some time at safety, though he’s expected to be more of a regular on special teams.
The Red must, however, deal with the graduation of David Caputo ’00. He had 98 tackles and one pick last season at the strong safety spot.
“Caputo’s a big loss, but we have guys who can step into and fill his shoes,” Algeo remarked.
At the corners, the trio of senior Jimmy Vattes, and sophomores Vincent Bates and Jordan Hase will compete for the two positions.
Junior Jason Tisdale has decided not to play this season.
“I feel good about who we are at corner,” Mangurian asserted, adding, “There’s not much fall-from [the first guy] to the third guy.”
Vattes has played at the corner the last two years, accumulating a total of 71 tackles and two interceptions.
Bates was one of the stars of the special teams last year, returning a punt 73 yards for a score in the 24-23 win over Harvard.
And Hase saw some action in the secondary in 1999, recording 14 tackles and a pick which he returned for 35 yards against Penn.
Summed up defensive backfield coach David Arnsparger, “We’ve got numerous capable secondary players, so everyone’s going to get some playing time.”
Archived article by Shiva Nagaraj