Following his brilliant senior season, when he ranked second nationally in sacks and took home the Bushnell Cup as the Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year, Mike Catapano learned more good news. He will play one more game representing Princeton University.
Catapano has been selected to play in the 2013 East-West Shrine Game on January 19, 2013, at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. The longest-running college football all-star game, which was first played in 1925, the East-West Shrine Game serves as both a showcase for the next generation of NFL greats and a priceless benefit event for Shriners Hospitals for Children.
According to the East-West Shrine Game web site, there are 246 former participants in this game currently on NFL rosters.
Among Princeton's most recent invitees to this game are Taylor Northrop (2002) and Keith Elias (1994). Catapano, who joined Elias and six others as Bushnell Cup recipients, earned his spot with one of the most impressive seasons ever put forth by a Tiger defensive lineman.
Catapano earned unanimous selection to the All-Ivy first team. He led the Ivy League with 12 sacks and ended the regular season ranked second in the Football Championship Subdivision with 1.2 sacks per game. He ranked second in the Ivy League in tackles for loss with 15.5, which was only a half tackle off the League lead, and ranked ninth nationally in that category. The two-year co-captain ended the season with 41 tackles, and he had five games with at least two tackles for loss, as well as five games with at least five tackles.Catapano was at his best in Ivy League competition, when he led Princeton to its biggest turnaround in more than two decades. He had multiple sacks in four of the seven Ivy games and had at least half a sack in six games. He added five pass breakups, three quarterback hurries and three forced fumbles during the season. After the Tigers were the seventh-ranked defense in the Ivy League in 2011, Catapano helped Princeton improve to the third-best scoring defense in 2012. Princeton produced its first winning season in Ivy League play since 2006 and remained in the championship hunt until the final Saturday.
His 12 sacks were the most for a single season at Princeton since David Ferrara '00 recorded 12.5 during the 1998 season.
Catapano is the seventh Princeton player to be bestowed with the Bushnell Cup, following Walt Snickenberger (1974), Jason Garrett (1988), Judd Garrett (1989), Elias (1993), Dave Patterson (1995) and Jeff Terrell (2006). He is first Tiger from the defensive side to receive the Bushnell Cup since Patterson in 1995 and is just the second-ever Defensive Player of the Year as the award was established prior to the 2011 season.