July 18, 2002

Football Looks for a New Quarterback

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Three years. That is the amount of time former Cornell quarterback Ricky Rahne ’02 had to imprint his name in almost every school and Ivy League all-time passing categories.

Now for the first time in three years the Red gridders will hear signals being called by someone else. With Rahne starting every game since 1999, most of the Red receivers haven’t caught a pass from someone other than Rahne in their collegiate careers.

But don’t ask quarterback coach Brian Stott about a void at that position. He effortlessly reels off a half dozen names of football players who will be competing for the starting job come September: one senior, a junior, three sophomores and a junior transfer from Colorado State University.

Stott recruited junior D.J. Busch when he was in high school, but when CSU offered him a scholarship Cornell disappeared from the his picture — at least for the moment.

With two years of Division I-A experience under his belt, Busch has made his way to East Hill and seems to be the frontrunner in the competition for starting quarterback.

After all Busch beat out his classmate Bradlee Van Pelt to become the Rams’ starter last season. However, after he lost in a game against San Diego St., Van Pelt started the remainder of the games. By the end of the season Dan Busch, D.J.’s father had told the Associated Press that his son was thinking of transferring, and Harvard and Yale had expressed interest.

The rumor also made its way to Schoellkopf Hall, where Stott has an office.

“I can’t remember how I got his number, but that was a Friday afternoon. I talked to his father and he said D.J. was in Fort Collins packing up all his stuff to drive home on Sunday and Monday — he was going to be home on Monday afternoon. So I said ‘I’ll be at your home on Monday at 4,'” Stott said.

Stott was at the Busch residence in Santee, Calif. that Monday afternoon and has remained in contact with Busch ever since. At first he gave himself 10 percent chance of getting Busch on Cornell’s roster. That percentage slowly rose through the spring to the chagrin of Harvard and Yale.

“Football’s important to him, but also the education part is real important to him. So he realized he could get a good degree from a good school while playing football for the next two years and graduate in four years,” Stott said.

By March, Busch decided that if Cornell accepted him he would come. He hadn’t even visited the Cornell campus at that point.

Quarterback transfers from D I-A have had a history of success in the Ivy League. Penn’s Gavin Hoffman and Yale’ s Peter Lee both had successful careers at their second homes. Hoffman transferred from Northwestern and Lee from University of Wisconsin.

“He’s a good quarterback, there’s no denying it. He’s very smooth. You don’t get a scholarship to Colorado St. if your not good,” Stott said about Busch.

Although Stott and the football coaching staff are grateful to have the transfer they have not decided on a starter. Busch will have to compete with the other five prospects, all of whom are more experienced with the Cornell offense.

“He’s going to come in and compete with the other guys for the job, he knows that. He’s smart enough to know that he doesn’t want come in and upset things here. He just wants a chance to compete and I think he’ll get along well with the other guys,” Stott said.

Senior Mickey Razzano was the first person behind Rahne last year. He played in two games last year throwing 7 for 12 for a total 97 yards. He missed his sophomore season, but saw limited time during his freshman campaign.

None of the other quarterback candidates have called a play for the varsity football team, but they will also vie for the opening when camp begins Aug. 20. Junior Marshall Berkes gave Razzano a run for the second-string position last year before getting injured. He has made a good impression on the staff through the spring season and will be expected to contribute in the next season when he is healthy.

A slew of sophomores who put in time on the junior varsity squad will also be put to the test in camp. Stott is resolute on only anointing one of the hurlers the starter.

“I don’t believe in playing two quarterbacks. One guy’s going to play it and get all my support. If it’s time to make a change the next guy’s going to play and get all my support. I never want them looking over their shoulder in their out on the field. At this position, I don’t think that you can do that,” he said.

Archived article by Amanda Angel