Something that gets forgotten in all the incredible Ricky Rahne stats from last year is that someone had to be on the opposite end of all those passes.
Someone was on the other end of 2,762 yards worth of passes from the junior, and the majority of those catches were from Red receivers, rather than the tailbacks or fullbacks. The result was one of the best years for Cornell receivers in history.
“Wide receiver is an obvious strength for us,” head coach Pete Mangurian said. “We’re really experienced [at that position].”
Mangurian certainly isn’t kidding. Despite several key players spending a good deal of the year sidelined with injuries, the team’s receivers shined last year. Cornell fans should expect no less this year, as every major component of the receiving game, with the exception of Justin Bush ’00, returns for another wide open year of Cornell football.
Leading the way was Joe Splendorio, who as Rahne’s primary target caught 7.2 balls per game. The senior wideout racked up 944 receiving yards for the second-best receiving year in 112 years of Cornell football history. He needs only 58 receptions and 579 yards to become the surpass Eric Krawczyk ’98 as the all-time Cornell leader in those categories. Splendorio also stands tied with Krawczyk for most TD receptions by a receiver. All of those records are very attainable for the 6’6″ All-Ivy first-team receiver.
Lining up on the opposite side will be senior Edgar Romney, who at 6’1″ is still large enough to tower over most Ivy League corners and is strong enough to win a number of individual battles. Romney only played four games last year because of a wrist problem, but still managed to catch 12 balls for 169 yards. Rahne will certainly spend a good bit of time this fall searching out his ‘other receiver’ in first and second down situations, especially those which call for someone to go across the middle.
18-year old sophomore phenom Keith Ferguson had a breakout season for the Red last year. From the very beginning the speedy receiver made an impact, setting a rookie record with 93 yards receiving in his first game against Princeton. He broke that record the next game with 94 yards and never looked back. The Washington, Md. native finished the year with 41 catches for 530 yards, both records for freshmen. He managed to catch five touchdowns for Cornell, good for second among the receivers.
Frighteningly enough for other defenses, Mangurian has said Ferguson “may have been one of our most improved guys from the spring.”
A repeat of his rookie performance would mean huge things for the Cornell offense, as his ability to spread the defense will help Splendorio and Romney make short plays.
Senior Kevin Farese will be battling both defenses and injuries this season once again for the Red. Cornell’s fourth receiver has had a tumultuous career thus far, having suffered a broken clavicle in his first game as a sophomore and then a broken hand last year. After missing the first three games last year with the hand injury, however, he returned to be a true impact player for the Red, catching 12 passes for 193 yards in seven games, including a number of big plays in the Penn game, when he caught four passes for 74 yards. His 16.1 yards per catch last year was second among receivers to only sophomore Jamie Moriarty.
Junior Tim Hermann returns as the final key component of last year’s second-best Ivy passing offense. The junior has made huge gains according to head coach Pete Mangurian, who called him the “most improved guy in training camp.” Hermann should figure prominently in this year’s offense. As a sophomore, Hermann caught five passes for 71 yards. Cornell fans should be prepared to hear the 6’0″ receiver’s name called many more times over the Schoellkopf public address system.
Young receivers could play a prominent role in this year’s passing offense as well if they can find time behind the team’s main five guys. Sophomores Jamie Moriarty and Jamal Henderson, as well as freshmen Chris Gorres, John Kellner and Joe Kellogg will likely find some time for the Red this year when situations allow. Their ability to perform will mean bright things for the future of the squad.
Archived article by Charles Persons