September 19, 2003

Cornell's Hitman

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If it seems like junior outside linebacker Brad Kitlowski is trying to hurt whoever he’s tackling, it’s probably not your imagination. The Red’s most devastating hitman knocked out a pair of quarterbacks last season and as far as anyone can tell, isn’t done quite yet.

“Brad plays with a high motor, it’s going all the time,” said head coach Tim Pendergast. “When he hits you, he really wants to hurt you.”

While Kitlowski denies any such charges, he openly admits to an aversion for any of the Red’s biggest rivals.

“I don’t like any other Ivy League school really, besides Cornell,” he admits. “Anyone on Penn, Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth, Columbia, Brown, — any of them — I don’t like them.”

But he’s not out to hurt anyone. Yeah, right.

Kitlowski has always played with a fervor that epitomizes what it means to go 110 percent on each and every down. His efforts last season included a team-best two forced fumbles, seven tackles for a loss, and three and a half sacks. All of which came from his linebacking position.

“He doesn’t seem to tire at all, he’s an emotional guy but doesn’t allow that to wear him down,” said Pendergast.

Kitlowski is arguably the Red’s best open-field tackler as well. His 43 solo tackles a year ago ranked him amongst the Ivy’s elite in the category.

Kitlowski’s speed, quickness, and knack for the ball are something he’s been cultivating for a long time.

In fact, growing up, Kitlowski always knew that he was meant to play football.

“I’m from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and football is basically the only thing that matters there,” said the Mt. Lebanon High School graduate. “My whole life I’ve been watching football, playing football — I was almost like born for it.”

After a standout career for Mt. Lebanon, Kitlowski gave serious thought to his choice of college. And his coaches were grateful to hear that Kitlowski felt he was also born to play for Cornell.

“I really enjoyed the people here a lot, I like the environment a lot better [than at other Ivy League schools],” he said of his visits to East Hill. “That’s pretty much what brought me here: the people.”

And Kitlowski’s coaches were indeed glad he came. Since coming to East Hill, Kitlowski has been one of the Red’s instrumental forces on the defensive side of the ball. Pendergast feels that whether or not his team succeeds this season, will be due in large part to the success of Kitlowski and his outside linebacking counterpart, Joel Sussman.

“These guys are outstanding Ivy League linebackers and they will make a very significant impact on our football team,” said Pendergast, adding, “there is not a team in this league that has a tandem like them.”

Kitlowski’s energy, the synergistic qualities he maintains with Sussman, and a shared disdain for opposing teams, add a newly cultivated toughness to the Cornell squad.

“We’re playing football so there’s not much you need to do to get riled up,” said Sussman, “but you also just don’t like the guys on the other teams. I mean, we came to Cornell for a reason.”

That reason, at least in Kitlowski’s mind, is for a championship.

“When you win, you feel great, when you lose you feel terrible for a whole week. Having some losing seasons kind of makes you feel terrible the entire offseason,” he recalls. “So that’s why we’re out here working so hard and going at it 100 percent. We don’t like that feeling.”

And if you think you’re going to make him feel terrible, just remember that looks aren’t always deceiving.

“I don’t want to say I’m trying to hurt people, but I’m definitely giving it all I got,” Kitlowski concluded.

Archived article by Scott Jones