Since he arrived in Cambridge as a multi-talented recruit four years ago, Harvard middle linebacker Alex Gedeon has done everything his coaches and teammates have asked of him.
On and off the field, the senior has met every challenge he’s been faced with head-on —and sometimes even foot-on.
The latter undertaking came before a November game against Columbia last year, when Crimson head coach Tim Murphy called on the linebacker to fill in as an emergency punter after sophomore Jacob Dombrowski was involved in a car accident the previous night.
“The day before the game, we had a walkthrough on the field,” Gedeon recalls. “I was just kind of kicking the ball around, telling [special teams] coach [Tony] Reno I still had some punts in me.”
But all of a sudden, the linebacker was being asked to perform double-duty in an actual game.
Though special teams wasn’t exactly new to the senior—whose versatility had impressed Murphy when he was being recruited—the 6’2, 230 pounder had only expected one of his high school roles of quarterback, linebacker, and punter to come in handy at Harvard.
Yet when the telephone rang that Friday night, Gedeon accepted Reno’s challenge and gave special teams a try.
Surprising many of his teammates, the linebacker averaged 36.8 yards per attempt on that chilly November afternoon, topping both Lions punters. He even placed one inside the 20.
“It was one of those things where I hadn’t done it enough to put pressure on myself,” Gedeon says. “I wasn’t thinking of technique or anything. ... Once the nerves set in, I got off a couple of good ones.”
Though Gedeon found success in his new role, on the whole, the Hudson, Ohio native certainly made the right decision to focus on linebacker when he joined the Crimson in the fall of 2008.
After being named to the preseason All-Ivy League team this season, the senior has lived up to that billing and more. Gedeon’s 83 tackles lead Harvard by a wide margin, and he has not had fewer than seven tackles in any game this year.
The linebacker has also played a big role in helping Harvard achieve its league-high plus-seven turnover margin. In three midseason contests, Gedeon forced a fumble that resulted in a Crimson touchdown against Lafayette, had a key red-zone interception against Cornell, and had a win-sealing interception against Princeton.
“There aren’t enough words to describe how much he means to the team,” junior cornerback Brian Owusu says. “He knows football front and back, he’s a playmaker, he’s fast, he’s just one of those guys the whole team looks up to.”
Just as important as Gedeon’s play on the field has been his leadership off of it. A year ago, the senior’s teammates voted him Harvard football’s 138th captain, in part for the willingness to do whatever was best for the squad that he displayed against Columbia.
“Among a great senior class, he was the guy that almost everybody felt was the best guy to lead this team,” Murphy says. “His work ethic and his leadership by example are tremendous. He’ll do anything for this football team. He’s got the poise and confidence and personal qualities that you would want any captain to have.”