Lake Forest brings back nine defensive starters back. However, it is at the safety position where the Foresters have to fill both openings. Looking to fill that void will be a group of juniors and sophomores who have figured prominently for the Foresters on special teams the last two seasons.
Junior Joey Kropp and Sophomore Pat Clark return with the most in-game experience as both saw time in 2012. Clark accumulated 20 tackles and 1 interception in 2012. Kropp has appeared in every varsity game since arriving at Lake Forest. Spending his freshman year on the offensive side of the ball as a wide receiver, Kropp has worked diligently to master the safety position. Juniors Ryan Brown and Christian Silvestri both transferred to Lake Forest at the start of the 2012 season and look to be compete for the starting positions.
|Joey Kropp in action as a Punt Returner vs. Cornell in 2012|
"Pat has the most experience on the field thus far and has shown to be a very productive player when he is given a chance. I expect a lot from him this year. Joey has one of the highest football IQ's on the team, and he is never in the wrong place. He has shown a special knack in the passing game, and we just need to see his run support match up with that. Ryan had a big learning curve last fall, but showed us a lot of good things on special teams, and he had a much improved spring ball period," noted Head Football Coach Jim Catanzaro. "Christian was injured in camp last year, so we didn't have a great opportunity to see what he could do. As a former high school assistant coach, he has a great knowledge to draw upon, because he sees things like the coaches do. This is a great asset," Catanzaro continued.
Newcomers to the Forester program at safety include sophomore Nana Yaw Larbi-Tieku, and freshman Blake Waller. Waller was a 1st Team All-Conference selection for the Oak Forest (IL) Bengals.
"Nana joined us in the spring and made some great strides. His rugby background is helping him make the transition to football quicker than I expected. Blake is a talented player that we are very high on as a coaching staff. His ability to learn the playbook quickly will determine how fast he contributes on Saturdays," observed Catanzaro.
A position that the Foresters bring back a wealth of experience is cornerback. Paced by three seniors corners who have started over forty starts combined. Eddie Dobernig, a 2012 1st team All-MWC selection, and Nick Waters return after starting all ten games in 2012. The pair combined for 84 tackles, 3 forced fumbles, 4 interceptions, and 11 pass break ups. Boosting the cornerback group will be the return of senior Darrius McKay. McKay started eight games for the Foresters his first two season on campus, but missed the 2012 season with a season ending knee injury. McKay has 44 tackles and 3 interceptions for his career.
|Senior Eddie Dobernig with an interception return|
against Cornell College in 2012.
"This is a position of real strength for us. There are three all-conference level performers at this position. It will be hard to keep any of theses individuals off of the field. Eddie is a true lock down corner. He has demonstrated beyond a reasonable doubt that it is dangerous to throw in his direction. Nick was one of the biggest reasons for our success in 2012. The improvement that he made from his sophomore year gave us a big play corner opposite of Eddie. His consistency was the thing that stood out the most to me," noted Catanzaro.
Nick Waters makes an INT and returns it for
a TD vs. Grinnell.
"Having Darrius back allows us a lot of flexibility. He has the ability to line up as a nickel back, he can blitz, and he is probably our best man to man defender. I was very pleased to see how fast Darrius had recovered from his surgery this past spring. I look forward to seeing him back in pads," said Catanzaro.
Joining the returning corners will be sophomore transfer Chris Rantis (UW-Whitewater/Lake Zurich High School) and sophomore new-comer Giang Nyguen.
"Chris was a very productive safety in high school. I think he has a lot of potential at cornerback. He teamed with his brother Mike (Forester WR) to help form one of the fastest track relay teams in the state of Illinois his senior year. Giang played at Wyoming Seminary Prep in high school, but wasn't sure college football was in his plans. After taking the Fall off, he joined the team in the spring. Giang has experienced a quick learning curve and has shown great tenacity in attacking each drill during the spring," observed Catanzaro.