While it obviously matters what one does on the field during a real game, no one on the Cornell football team will be surprised if sophomore running back Luke Siwula will be one of the standout players on the Red this season.
Spring practices and preseason give the Cornell coaching staff a chance to evaluate their players and so far, Siwula has shown signs of being one of the Red’s strongest offensive threats in the backfield – a fact most recently seen in the team’s scrimmage against Ithaca College almost two weeks ago.
“Luke Siwula is going to have a breakthrough year,” said head coach Jim Knowles ’87. “He’s our secret weapon because he’s just really started to breakout in the spring. He’s great on turf, he cuts on a dime and I’m looking forward to seeing how he does.”
Siwula opened eyes with his performance against the Bombers. During the actual scrimmage, he spearheaded the strong Red running game, rushing for 53 yards on six carries, while scoring several touchdowns during the Red’s drills. Siwula busted out for runs of 15, 21 and 26 yards during the day as well.
His story, according to his coaches, is one of hard work and dedication.
“We have a lot of great running backs … and Luke has really proven himself last spring and early this preseason, so we expect big things out of him as a whole,” said running backs coach Ricky Rahne ’02.
Whereas many of his teammates come from locales time zones away, Siwula lives a short drive away in Cortland. Attending the heated Cortland-Ithaca College games as well as some Cornell games when he was younger, Siwula started playing football – a “born and raised” running back – in third grade.
His football idol was back Barry Sanders, as he was tantalized by the way the former Detroit Lions running back played and ran the football, trying to learn from the future Hall of Famer by watching tapes of him. As for his personal career, Siwula was attracted to Cornell because of the academics and the fact that Ithaca is close to his home.
This season, Siwula hopes to continue his rise as one of Cornell’s top backs after having 54 carries for 90 yards last season. Siwula said that he committed himself over the off-season and the results have paid dividends.
“I’ve been working my tail off since the day I’ve gotten here and the opportunity had really come up for me in the spring … and I made the most of it,” Siwula said.
Siwula joins an already talented backfield which includes seniors Joshua Johnston and Andre Hardaway, who are also expected to get many carries. But Siwula adds his own qualities to the Red running game.
“Luke’s the type of guy who could fit into a small gap in the defense and come out on the other side,” Knowles said.
Rahne, who is confident in all of his backs, said that the sophomore’s biggest strength is his elusiveness. Siwula said that he personally needs to continue working on some facets of his game, most notably his pass protection and perimeter blocking.
But no matter how much Siwula improves during his career, his main aim in mind will always stay the same.
“First and foremost, I want to win the Ivy League championship,” Siwula said. “That’s a team goal and that’s my number one personal goal. Besides that, I just want to contribute every game, get into the end zone, put some points on the board and help us win games.”
Archived article by Brian Tsao
Sun Assistant Sports Editor