We all know the Ivy League Conference’s stellar reputation off the field, but what many may not know is the surplus of talented football players the Ivy League continues to produce annually. From John Heisman to George Starke to more recent guys such as Marcellus Wiley, Matt Birk and Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Ivy League produces some of the FCS’s top football players. There are three players this up and coming 2014 season that the nation should keep a close eye on.
Zach Hodges out of Harvard is considered to be the best defensive player in the Ivy League. A unanimous pre season all American, Zach Hodges lead the Ivy League conference in sacks and tackles for a loss as a defensive end/linebacker for the Crimson. Logging over 40 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks, four forced fumbles and an interception. it’s not a mystery why Hodges was nominated to receive the Butkus Award, awarded annually to the nation’s top linebacker. It is not likely Hodges will receive the award but the nomination is impressive nonetheless considering Hodges plays for an FCS team and the award is more often than not given to a player in an FBS conference. Hodges is favored though to win the Buck Buchannan award, awarded to the best defensive player in the FCS.
It is hard to recognize some of the Ivy League’s top players with out mentioning Quinn Epperly out of Princeton. Princeton is considered to be the favorite to win the Ivy again this fall and Epperly is a very important reason why. The returning offensive player of the year is considered to be the best player in the Ivy on either side of the ball, logging over 40 touchdowns in one season with 25 through the air and 18 on the ground. The Princeton quarterback broke the NCAA record for consecutive completions with 31 against Cornell. Quinn is one of the leading candidates for the Walter Payton award, awarded to the FCS’ best player. If Quinn were to win the award he will be the first player out of the Ivy to receive the award since its creation.
Dalyn Williams out of Dartmouth is considered to be the second best quarterback in the Ivy League after Epperly. Williams had a break out season for the Big Green as a sophomore. The former Ivy rookie of the year threw 11 touchdowns and only five interceptions. Williams also set a Dartmouth record for throwing 216 consecutive passes with out an interception. As a preseason all American, expectations are high for Epperly, but having two years under his belt and the keys to the car will only help his chances of fulfilling them.