September 20, 2002

Stepping Into the Spotlight

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Welcome to the 2002 Cornell football season. Tomorrow, on the field in Lewisburg, Pa., Day One of the post-Ricky Rahne ’02 era begins.

You undoubtedly know that Rahne rewrote the record book for Cornell passers before he left. His name appears first for completions in a season, 252; passing yards in a season, 2,944; and touchdown passes in a season, 25. Single-game records. Single-season records. Career records. Awards, honors, accolades, you name it, Rahne did it.

But Ricky Rahne is no longer the Cornell quarterback. Say hello to senior Mick Razzano.

For the last three years, Razzano waited in the wings as Rahne’s understudy, getting some snaps in garbage time. Now it’s his turn to shine, but differently.

First of all, Razzano is a hard-nosed player. Back in high school in South River, N.J., the 6-0, 218-pounder played linebacker, safety, and quarterback.

“You won’t see me sliding,” he said. “I’ve been a quarterback all my life, but I’ve also been a free safety and a linebacker, so I don’t have the mentality to run out of bounds. It’s instinctive. If somebody’s in the way, I do what I do to get the first [down].”

For another, Razzano isn’t the short-passing finesse type.

“These guys both have world-class arms as far as how hard they throw it and their accuracy,” quarterbacks coach Brandon Stott said of Razzano and his backup, junior transfer D.J. Busch.

“It’s so different from Ricky last year, because he wasn’t a big-armed quarterback.”

How big is Razzano’s arm? Ask junior Marschall Berkes; he competed for the starting quarterback job until he broke a finger catching a Razzano pass.

Competing for that job is one reason why Razzano is a better quarterback than he was even a month ago.

“I knew coming into camp that I’d have to battle Marschall, and then we got word that D.J. was coming over from Colorado State, so I knew I would have to win the job. I knew it wasn’t just mine to take,” he said.

Knowing that he’d have to have an outstanding preseason to earn the nod, Razzano proceeded to do exactly that. During the preseason he impressed the coaches with his consistency, work ethic, and knowledge of the offense.

“He prepared himself probably the best that he ever has,” said head coach Tim Pendergast. “I think Mick is putting in more time and more intensity and more effort.”

“Razzano was very focused; he never slipped the entire camp. You never saw him make a ton of mistakes,” agreed Stott.

Part of that work ethic is something Razzano inherited from Rahne. Rahne was a gridiron scholar, listening and writing down everything the coaches said. Now Razzano does the same, and knows the playbook so well that Stott considers him an additional coach on the field.

“My guys do everything in a notebook, and they write down everything I say. A few years ago, he didn’t do that. You look at Mickey’s notebook now, and it is packed full of notes,” Stott said. “That’s what he picked up from Ricky. He knows how to study now, how to study football, and he does a tremendous job of it.”

That type of focus is the reason Mick Razzano will be starting at quarterback tomorrow in Lewisburg.

Meanwhile, Razzano is jumping at the chance to step out of Rahne’s shadow and make his own mark on the Cornell football annals.

“Since my freshman year, I’ve been behind Rick, I’ve just been waiting and waiting, and I couldn’t be happier right now,” finished Razzano, “I’m looking forward to Bucknell. I’ve been waiting for three years.”

Archived article by Alex Fineman