That’s Jay McCareins, of course, not to be confused with his brother Justin, who is currently a wide receiver with the Jets.
Jay, a senior cornerback for the Tigers, might soon join his brother in the NFL, and this year’s stunning numbers have caught the attention of everyone in Ivy football.
“He’s the best player in the league,” Harvard coach Tim Murphy said. “If you want to ask me who’s the next player going to the NFL from our league? It’s Jay McCareins.”
McCareins’ performance through Princeton’s first five games has been dominant. Not only has he intercepted five passes, but he’s returned two of the five all the way back for touchdowns. Ironically, that gives him two more touchdowns than his pass-catching brother.
Even with McCareins’ impressive play, Murphy believes Harvard cannot afford to alter its offense.
“We’re not going to back down,” he said. “We’re going to go right at him. You have to do that. If you don’t challenge him it allows the defense to focus on certain things and it becomes a problem.”
Crimson sophomore quarterback Liam O’Hagan has thrown nine interceptions this year, although he had his first interception-free performance in last week’s 24-17 win over Lafayette.
Senior receiver Ryan Tyler, who has not played in a game since injuring his shoulder Oct. 1 against Lehigh, may be nearing a return.
Tyler dressed for last week’s game at Lafayette, but he did so only in order to participate in warm-ups and work on conditioning.
Tyler’s return would limit the pressure on freshman Alex Breaux and sophomores Matt Legace and Joe Murt, who have handled the bulk of the receiving load since Tyler and junior wide out Corey Mazza went down.
Mazza sat out three games with an injured ankle, which he further aggravated in practice this week, according to Murphy.
“Corey Mazza’s probably done for the year,” the coach said.
While Breaux, Legace, and Murt will still see substantial time even if Tyler can play, the addition of a veteran presence in the receiving corps would certainly help O’Hagan—especially with the ball hawking McCareins waiting in the secondary.
Even though he’s missed the past two games, Tyler is still tied with Breaux for the team lead in receptions with 14. Mazza, despite playing in just two games, is still one behind with 13 catches.
THIRD AND THREE
Murphy wouldn’t commit as to who would act as his primary punt returner against the Tigers, but it won’t be sophomore Steven Williams. Williams has lost three fumbled punts in the past two games. His replacement will likely be either Andrew Berry or Breaux...Junior safety Danny Tanner will return to action this week following a knee injury that caused him to miss two games. Senior Robert Balkema will retain his starting role, and Tanner will be used predominately in nickel packages...Harvard has a nine-game winning streak against Princeton.
—Staff writer David H. Stearns can be reached at email@example.com.