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Day 1: Practice Recap
Over the past few video recaps (all available above), returning experience has been a fairly consistent theme. From both sides of the line to the offensive skill spots, there are a handful of last season's starters ready to line up in the exact same spot.
And then there are the linebackers.
In the fifth part of Princeton's seven-part video preview series on the 2013 football season, the panel looks at a position that has experience, but in a far different way than any other spot.
A Princeton fan is probably familiar with the four names who enter the preseason as favorites for starting jobs, but in most cases, they will be seeing them in new positions.
Start with senior Alex Polofsky, who had more tackles last season (67) than any returning player. He started at middle linebacker, but should move to the weak-side spot after the graduation of three-year starter Tim Kingsbury. Polofsky was a solid contributor in the middle of the defense, but the staff will hope for more impact plays this season from this energetic linebacker.
Polofsky took the starting spot after a late preseason injury to current junior Garrit Leicht, who should start at the middle linebacker position when the season opens Sept. 21 against Lehigh. Leicht gained some experience during the second half of the season, but the coaches want to see if he can become Princeton's next great middle linebacker. When you look at some of the men who filled that spot over the last decade—including Zak Keasey, Justin Stull, Tim Boardman and Steven Cody—you get a sense of just how high they view Leicht's ceiling.
As excited as they are about Leicht's potential, it was another linebacker that turned the most heads in the spring. Again, fans are familiar with Mike Zeuli, but his move from safety to linebacker was viewed with rave reviews so far. Zeuli replaces three-year starter Andrew Starks, another converted safety, and seems to be in his most natural position.
The one returning starter to hold his position is senior outside linebacker Jason Ray, who was moved from fullback to linebacker prior to his junior season. Ray had a productive first season at the position, but the year of experience at the position should make him far more comfortable this season.
Jess Patton and Elijah Mitchell have the most experience among the reserves, while Marcus Stroud overcame an injury last season and could have a far bigger role this year.
You can watch the preview series video, which includes PrincetonTigersFootball.com writer Jay Greenberg and Princeton radio commentator Dan Loney, by clicking on the play link on the image above. If you are receiving this as an email newsletter, please note that you will need to access this on GoPrincetonTigers.com to view the video.