For the past few years, any casual onlooker would have trouble telling the difference between Kurt Frimel ’18 and now-senior Reis Seggebruch.
They both sport bleach blonde hair (though Seggebruch’s now flows to his shoulders), stand within an inch tall (Frimel holds the edge at six-feet-one) and weigh within five pounds (Seggebruch has taken the crown by bulking up to 235 this offseason). What’s more, their jerseys have traditionally been only one number apart (48 for Frimel, 49 for Seggebruch).
Perhaps that’s all been for a reason. The duo has anchored Cornell football’s linebacking and rush defense side-by-side from the middle of the field over the past two seasons. Now, Seggebruch has assumed the captaincy from Frimel as he looks to help Cornell’s defense improve upon a No. 5 finish in the Ivy League.
“That’s the big thing I learned from those guys, just walk the way you preach,” Seggebruch said of Frimel and two-time captain linebacker Miles Norris ’18. “Anything they said they did. … They voted captain, so I’m going to say how I feel and I’m not going to hold back or act like I’m not being myself.”
“Their work ethic, their preparation and their production,” head coach David Archer ’05 added of what separates Seggebruch and fellow captain J. Edward Keating as leaders. “And the coolest part about those two is they might have been the last two takes in that year’s recruiting class. … They go out there more prepared than their opponent and they don’t flinch when it’s prime time. It never gets too big for them.”
Seggebruch’s captaincy comes a year removed from leading the Red with 62 tackles in 2017 after finishing third in 2016 with 74. But Seggebruch will be looking to improve upon Cornell’s last-place finish in rush defense last year, and he’ll be joined in doing so by fellow prospective starters senior Maxwell McCormick and sophomore Lance Blass.
Other players who could see playing time include senior Malcolm Chaka, junior Malik Leary. A converted safety, junior Maurice Bradford and junior Justin Bedard, a converted quarterback.
“[It’s taking] an athletic kid and developing them physically and mentally,” Archer stated of his trained linebackers.
Despite Seggebruch having almost as many tackles last year alone as the six additional linebackers have combined over their careers (69), Archer remains confident in the depth he holds at the position, which will be a necessity should the team want to become a top-half defense in the Ivy League.
Specifically, the run defense will need a face-lift. Cornell faced the third-most rush attempts in the Ancient Eight last year and finished last by allowing 166.1 yards per game on the ground.
“We ask a lot of our linebackers. They’re the adjusters in coverage, they’re the adjusters up front, and so everybody’s got to come prepared to play their best,” Archer said. “But those guys, they’re really asked physically and mentally to really be locking in, and that’s a good, strong group, those seven kids right there.”