Two letters defined perhaps the greatest linebacker of all time: LT. This season, one word will describe one of the greatest middle linebackers the Cornell Sprint Football team has ever seen: Kraut. The similarities between these two are uncanny: both wear number 56, both have an extraordinary passion for hitting, and both led solid — sometimes great — defensive sets. Senior Jonathan Krautmann adds another aspect to his persona however: an eloquence reminiscent of Deion Sanders.
Krautmann hails from Salem, Oregon where he was no stranger to success. As a middle linebacker for Regis High, he led his team to the state championship game. He was then selected to a summer all-star game, which ended up being his last football game for a several months.
“Football was kind of out my system when I came to Cornell. My freshman year, I didn’t know anything about lightweight football. Two of my buddies, seniors Pat Arangio and Andy Goodman, introduced me to it. I started working out with the team that spring.”
It had been a year and a half since he had gotten off a good tackle on an unsuspecting ball-carrier.
“I missed the hitting. I missed the contact — I missed being part of a team and having teammates.”
Krautmann started playing during his sophomore year and had an immediate impact.
“He was an instant starter at middle linebacker: the quarterback of the defense and the caller of the defense signals. He is responsible for the entire defense and he makes the adjustment calls. He is a very strong, good football player — very bright,” head coach Terry Cullen praised.
“[Playing lightweight ball] was the perfect situation for me because we played basically the same defense I played in high school. I kept the same position in calling the defense, and I was really comfortable with it,” Krautmann said.
“Linebacker is a fun position to play because you have read what the fullback doing, what the guard is doing, where the ball being setup, and in each case you have different responsibilities. You really have to understand the offensive sets, and you have to understand that at middle linebacker, you are the captain of the defense,” Krautmann continues.
“You have to understand what the defensive linemen are doing and what the safeties are doing so you can be in the position to make a play. At middle linebacker you get the chance to make a lot of big hits. But you can’t do it without your defensive linemen.”
The senior doesn’t shy away from contact either.
“I really enjoy the contact, and football is unlike any other sport because you get to do things that if you went out on the street and did, you’d be charged with battery. I just love it when the receivers are coming across the middle, going for the ball not knowing what’s coming and you just put your helmet in their chest – it’s the greatest feeling in the world. I wish everyone could experience that.”
Krautmann attacks his books with the same ferociousness he attacks a running back.
“He’s pre-med, pre-business, pre-horticulture, pre-whatever — a very smart kid,” Cullen laughed.
“Any athlete will tell you, during the sports season you’ve got to budget your time, and that makes you a better student. Balancing football and school is easier than I expected. I enjoy having a busy schedule and having things to do so my days fill up. Football kind of energizes me and gets me mentally ready to study,” Krautmann said.
The studying is paying off as he is currently interviewing for several jobs in investment banking.
“I want to cap my football career out with a league championship and I want get a good job. I want to go into the spring semester with all the bases covered.”
Archived article by Sumeet Sarin