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LB Zak Keasey


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A long shot, but another MLB prospect.

Linebacking Corps Looks To Lead 2004 Defense

All-Ivy returners will anchor one of team's top positions.



Aug. 27, 2004

PRINCETON - The return of Zak Keasey and the continued improvement of an impressive group of juniors should make the linebackers the backbone of the 2004 Princeton defense. "I'm fired up about this group," linebacker coach Don Dobes said after the second day of preseason camp. "We have a chance to have a very good starting three, but we should also have good depth. I'm expecting players like (Rob) Holuba, (Alan) Borelli and (Luke) Steckel to get 5-10 snaps per game."

Keasey, a senior who led Princeton in tackles in both 2001 and 2002, has come back in great shape and is the most physically impressive player at his position. He will start at middle linebacker, where he will be involved in both the run and the pass defense. With the graduation of some top linebackers in the league last year, Keasey has the opportunity to become one of the premier defensive forces in the league. "He has a combination of football savvy, animal toughness and experience on the field," Dobes said of his middle linebacker. "He's a little scary with the way he hits people. He might be the best tackler I've coached here. He's right up there with (1995 Bushnell Cup winner) Dave Patterson."

Right next to Keasey will be 2003 first-team All-Ivy selection Justin Stull, who led the entire league with 120 tackles last season. Stull, a junior, was elected co-captain by his teammates, becoming the first junior captain at Princeton since Wayne Harding in 1943. "He's hard-working and honest," Dobes said. "He does what he says. He works as hard as anybody on the team. "Stull will play tackle to tackle," the 11th-year Tiger coach continued. "He will always be in the mix on the run. Having Justin there takes the pressure off Zak. He knows that he doesn't have to do everything." While those two are the best-known players at the position, there are others that will make a certain impact on the defense.

Junior linebacker Abi Fadeyi, who has made a name for himself on the special teams, has improved his conditioning and should start at strongside linebacker this season. "He's matured," Dobes said. "He's gotten more confident. I was concerned about his conditioning before, since my guys play about 100 snaps a game between defense and special teams. Now, he's in shape." The starters have improved their conditioning through rigorous offseason workouts, and they will continue to improve in the preseason. While they will be expected to play the majority of the snaps, the depth that Dobes spoke of will allow the starters to rest some plays during the game. Players like Borelli, who tied for the team lead in sacks last season, to Neset Pirkul, a senior who will back up Keasey at middle linebacker, will get the chance to play key minutes during the season.

The depth will also improve Princeton's special teams, which requires quick and strong linebackers to both cover kicks and set up returns. "That is another factor to our depth," Dobes said. "That is a missing factor at times, but we should definitely be better on special teams this year." Members of the freshman class will also be given the chance to step up on special teams this season, including the likes of a pair of highly touted recruits, Misha Cvetkovic (Melbourne, Fla.) and Doori Song (Coshocton, Fla.). Dobes sees Cvetkovic as a fast, physically gifted player, while Song is more instinctive and fluid. Both, along with a number of other freshmen, will look to show the coaches enough in their first preseason to earn some early playing time.


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Keasey strikes me as perfect practice squad material. I've got no facts to back that up, other than the fact that our LB corps is already fairly logjammed and it'll be difficult for him to retain a roster spot -- even for Special Teams.

But he was able to emerge from camp with a spot, and he's clearly got the intelligence, so he's probably the kind of guy that's worth investing some time in. Ergo, practice squad.

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As I understand it, Coach Williams son also played for Princeton, and therefore Coach saw this guy play a lot and was impressed enough to bring him in for a tryout. Obviously he and the LB coach liked what they saw.

As a player I have heard that Keasey is very instinctual, and a very good tackler who takes good angles. Physically he is a bit small, and not a real burner, but he seems to have good short area speed.

Once again, like Newberry, he reminds me a lot of Pierce.

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