September 13, 2007

Another Helping of Lempa

Print More

As Rob Niedermeyer, Justin Upton and Vincent Chase can attest, younger brothers can often successfully follow in the footsteps of an older sibling. Linebacker Doug Lempa is no exception, as the senior has enjoyed a stellar Cornell career following the lead of his brother, former defensive lineman and captain Ryan Lempa ’05. For Doug, his brother’s time with the Red was one of the factors in his decision to come to Ithaca.
“I’d be lying that it didn’t play a role at all,” Lempa said. “I knew a lot of the players beforehand because I had been coming up the previous four years to watch games. … He didn’t pressure me at all in making my decision, but seeing the friendships he made here and the experiences he had … he never really wanted to leave, and he still wants to come up back all the time.”
The family connection aside, Lempa is making his own mark in the middle of Cornell’s defense. Last season, Lempa moved into the starting lineup alongside classmate Ryan Blessing. The pair replaced Patrick Potts ’06 and Joel Sussman ’06, both of whom were all-Ivy linebackers. Blessing and Lempa, friends off the field, were up for the challenge.
“We know each other very well, both on the field and off the field, and also because we have played each other for a full year,” Lempa said. “We each know how to communicate on the field. … I think we’re a good tandem.”
Lempa enjoyed a quality year in 2006, posting 62 tackles, tied for second on the team along with classmate Michael Boyd. Boyd and Lempa’s tackle tally was good for 17th in the Ancient Eight. In addition, he recorded six tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. In a loss to Brown, Lempa recorded a career-high 13 tackles.
Despite his solid season last year, Lempa did not see action for Cornell until his sophomore season, in 2005. That year, the Point Pleasant Beach, N.J., native appeared in all 10 games and recorded 23 total tackles to go along with 1.5 sacks and an interception. The senior also blocked a kick against Bucknell.
This year, Lempa hopes that his relationship with Blessing will improve the defense, especially the running game, which suffered last year after being one of the team’s biggest strengths in 2004 and 2005.
“Blessing and Lempa, at the beginning of [last] year, they were first-year starters, and it took some time,” said head coach Jim Knowles ’87. “We really got behind the eight-ball early. But we got everybody back and we have to be able to commit more people to stop the run like we did our first two years.”
“I think that if we come up and make big plays and stop the run immediately and force teams to throw the ball, that will be a key point to the season,” Lempa said. “I think that … it is really on our shoulders as linebackers to do that.”