The Harvard Crimson opened spring practice in Cambridge this week. Coming off of an 8-2 season in which Harvard finished third in the Ivy League, expectations are high as usual on campus.
The Crimson must replace several key players on both sides of the ball, most notably running back Aaron Shampklin, quarterback Luke Emge and linebacker Jordan Hill. It won’t be easy but head coach Tim Murphy and his staff have recruited well through the years so there is plenty of talent on hand.
With the emergence of Dartmouth and Princeton and Yale contending every year now, Harvard has their hands full in the Ivy League.
Finding some answers at key positions is paramount this spring. Here are five things to watch for this spring.
1. Quarterback competition: With Luke Emge graduating, the quarterback competition will intensify. Junior Charlie Dean is the incumbent but he will have to stave off juniors Jack Bill, Curt Casteel and sophomore Connor Easthope. Dean played well at times last season when he started but he needs to be more consistent.
2. It’s the Aiden Borguet show now: The junior running back from New Jersey will take all the carries now that Shampklin is gone. Borguet is well built and packs a punch when running inside the tackles. He is also a factor in the passing game as a receiver. Borguet will be the starter but keep on an eye on but sophomores Israel Benjamin and Malik Frederick as well. Both are tough, decisive runners who fit the Harvard system well.
3. Defensive line: The Crimson return one of the top defensive lines in the Ivy League led by defensive end senior Truman Jones and sophomore defensive tackle Thor Griffith. Both are undersized, but disruptive and they make things happen at the line of scrimmage. They will lead the way for a defense that returns a good blend of experience and young talent.
4. Back seven: Harvard will be young in the secondary. They return two starters. Cornerback Alex Washington who won all Ivy League honors last season and safety James Herring are back.
At 6-2 185, Washington has the length and ball skills NFL teams look for. Herring plays all over the place for the Crimson defense. He can play over the top, in the slot or as a box safety. Harvard will be young in the secondary so they will lean on Washington and Herring to bring the young guys along.
5. Wide receiver is wide open: The Crimson are young at wide receiver. There will be competition at the position throughout the spring. Watching the young guys compete at the position will be fascinating this spring. Luckily for Harvard, they do have some experience back at tight end with Tyler Neville and Haven Montefalco.