First Practice Launches Big Red Football Into 2018
ITHACA, N.Y. -- On Friday, campus returned to life as students stole East Hill back from the summer. On Saturday morning, convocation welcomed freshmen to their new home. By Saturday evening, Cornell football reclaimed its spot as guardian of Schoellkopf Field. The Big Red kicked off the 2018 season with 117 players suiting up for day one of practice. Included among that number was 16 starters - nine from a defense that was arguably the most improved in the Ancient Eight a year ago and an offense that brings back All-Ivy players at quarterback, running back and the offensive line. The group's energy and tempo made for a crisp two-and-a-half hour practice in helmets, shirts and shorts as the team builds up to full pads this coming Wednesday before classes begin the following day. Head coach David Archer '05 enters his sixth year as head coach at his alma mater with unwavering commitment and passion, and 2017 gave Big Red fans a reason for continued optimism. A year ago, Cornell climbed to fifth in the Ivy standings (3-4) and was in contention for the Ivy title in November for the first time since 2000. Its three Ivy League wins were the most since 2011 and tied for the best conference record by the program in more than a decade. The Big Red defeated preseason co-favorites Princeton and Harvard, topping the Crimson for the first time in 12 years. Its non-conference schedule (Delaware, Patriot League co-champ Colgate and Bucknell) also proved to be the most challenging in the Ancient Eight, with those three teams posting a 19-14 record. Seven players earned All-Ivy honors, three captured Academic All-District honors and Seth Hope '18 became Cornell's first first-team Academic All-American since 2006. Among those seven All-Ivy players, the Big Red welcomes back place-kicker/punter Nickolas Null, offensive lineman J. Edward Keating and defensive backs DJ Woullard and David Jones. That doesn't include 2016 All-Ivy picks Chris Walker (RB) and Dalton Banks (QB), both entering their senior seasons as part of an offense that was more balanced than any at Cornell in more than a decade. Cornell will travel to nationally-ranked Delaware to begin the 2018 schedule on Saturday, Sept. 15 at 3:30 p.m. before opening its home and Ivy slate the following week as part of Homecoming when Yale visits on Saturday Sept. 22 at 3 p.m.