Entering the 2012 season, two sophomores seemed poised to play large roles after making significant contributions during their freshman campaigns. But four games in, both receiver Seitu Smith II and right tackle Will Whitman are out for the year, according to Crimson coach Tim Murphy.
“[Smith] had surgery to repair the ulnar ligament in his right thumb,” Murphy said. “For a skilled athlete, that’s a season-ending injury. The good news is that he will get a medical hardship from the Ivy League and the NCAA out of that, and to have him back for three more years is great.”
As a freshman, Smith was the team’s top kick returner, scoring a touchdown and averaging 29.9 yards on kickoff returns. Smith took on more of a receiving role as well in the early parts of this season. After 12 catches in 2011, Smith brought down 8 catches for 92 yards and a touchdown in Week Two.
“Even without Seitu, which is a significant hit—losing arguably the most explosive athlete on our team—we are very fortunate to have solid depth at the wide receiver position.”
Smith’s absence will now give another freshman a chance to step in and make an impact, just as Smith did a year ago.
“The guy that will take up some of the slack on Seitu’s role of being that third receiver...is Andrew Fischer from California,” Murphy said. “He’s not that big but he’s very physical for his size, has tremendous quickness, and he just looks very comfortable out there as a young freshman.”
With Smith out, freshman Paul Stanton has filled in as kick returner in the past two games. In his first two weeks of play, Stanton has averaged 29.3 yards on kickoff returns.
“It’s definitely going to be tough missing [Smith],” said junior wide receiver Andrew Berg. “But I have all the faith in Stanton and Andrew Fischer to go back there and make plays. So I think we’re making the right steps.”
The other starting wideouts will have to step their game up as well, but Murphy has been impressed by their performance thus far.
“Even going into the season before they proved anything, we were just really happy with our whole receiving corps…I said going in, I know no one has heard of [Berg and junior Ricky Zorn] but they are really good, and they are,” Murphy said.
While Smith’s departure means the loss of an offensive spark, Whitman’s injury means the loss of a stable force up on the offensive line.
“Will is a hard guy to replace,” Murphy said. “Anybody that started 13 straight games not only is someone who has invaluable game experience but is someone who plays at a high level with confidence.”
Whitman started all 10 games during his freshman year at right tackle and was named a preseason first-team All-Ivy player before going down with an injury.
“What we have to do to replace him is use two guys; I don’t think we can do it with just one,” Murphy said. “Junior Sebastian Parker and freshman Cole Toner—I thought those guys did a very good job last week. We still have a long way to go but we are fortunate to have two kids that we think are good players, albeit inexperienced.”
—Staff writer Jacob D. H. Feldman can be reached at email@example.com