When a football team is picking up over 300-yards per game through the air, you know it has some good receivers.
And such is the case for the Cornell football team. But the difference between a decent receiving corps and a great receiving group is depth. Can the third, fourth and fifth guys make the big plays in crucial situations?
The answer to this question is unequivocally ‘Yes’ for Cornell, and in large part, that answer comes courtesy of junior Tim Hermann.
The College of Arts and Sciences student is noted for his tremendous work ethic and determination, which has made him one of the key receivers in the Red’s arsenal.
“He was probably one of our most improved players, if not our most improved player, coming back over the summer,” head coach Pete Mangurian said.
Wide receivers coach Brandon Stott felt that Hermann’s blossoming this year is due to his experience and work throughout his career, especially this past summer.
“His biggest improvement has been over his career. His first year he had a lot of growing to do as a wide receiver. As a sophomore we saw some stuff in him so that we knew he was going to be good. This past spring he did great. He came into camp in unbelievable shape,” Stott said.
“Physically I think I came into camp in good shape,” Hermann agreed. “That’s something I worked on over the summer — I ran a whole lot and a lifted.”
In fact, Hermann worked on his training routine so much over the summer in his home of Chalfont, Penn., that Stott had a hard time finding out how he was doing.
“Half the times I called him this summer, his mom or his dad would pick up the phone and I’d talk to them for a little while, then they would say ‘he is not here right now; he is out running’. It didn’t matter what time I called, he was doing something,” Stott said.
But in the first game of the year, it looked as though all of this work was going to be quickly erased. While catching a pass for a sizable gain, Hermann was hit hard by a Bucknell defender. He laid on the ground for about 10 minutes before being carted off in an ambulance. Fortunately, there was no serious damage done besides a case of whiplash.
And while this injury was frightening to witness, Hermann was determined to get back on the field.
“It was painful to be on the sidelines. Standing on the sideline of the Yale game I just wanted to be out there so bad. I did all I could to get back as soon as possible — I rehabbed my neck because [it] was really sore,” he said.
Three weeks after being carted off in the ambulance, Hermann took to the field again against Harvard. And in that first game back, he made one of the plays that could define Cornell’s season.
On a fourth-and five from the Crimson’s 48 yard-line with 1:16 to play and the game in the balance, Hermann took a pass from junior quarterback Ricky Rahne into the endzone, to put the Red on top for good.
“I was lucky enough to get that opportunity to play at Harvard, and I took advantage of that opportunity,” he said. “I was really excited knowing that I could contribute. That was the first game where I made a big play.”
Rahne is impressed with Hermann’s ability to return from injury to contribute to the team.
“I think it shows a lot of character to come back from something like that,” he said. “A lot of guys wouldn’t be able to go over the middle any more after taking a hit like that, but Hermann will gladly still go over the middle. That touchdown at Harvard was over the middle.”
But for Hermann, it is all just part of the game.
“I can’t think about [the injury] now, you can’t play scared,” he said.
On the year, the wide receiver has eight catches for 143 yards and two touchdowns, including one this past weekend against Brown.
Part of Hermann’s improvement comes from his ability to play all of the wide receiver positions in the Red’s scheme.
“He knew that [in order] to get playing time he had to know all four positions, and that he had to be the most versatile guy out there. He has done that, and that is his work ethic again,” Stott said.
“Knowing the offense and having the ability to play every [receiving] position helps a lot. If somebody gets injured I can move over,” Hermann said.
Indeed, with senior Kevin Farese out last week against Brown, Hermann took his spot.
The junior’s hands are another of his strengths. With senior co-captain and potential Ivy Player of the Year Joe Splendorio and sophomore sensation Keith Ferguson in the same group, it may be surprising that the surest hands of the group belong to Hermann.
“He’s got the best hands of the group, you can ask any one of [the receivers]. No doubt about it, he’s got the best hands…” Stott added.
Hermann’s ability to run routes is also one of his fortes.
“There are certain routes he can run, that I know they can’t cover him. He got the touchdown at Harvard; the reason he got that touchdown is because he ran a route you can’t cover him on. I don’t care who you put out there, you can’t cover him,” Stott asserted.
The team consensus and the stat sheets seem to be agree: “He has made himself a good receiver,” Stott said. “He has just kept getting better.”
Archived article by J.V. Anderton