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Princeton's Head Coach Bob Surace is seeing improvement in team attitude
Although the bottom line is not yet visible, you can feel and hear the breeze of change.
Spring practice was different.
This summer is different. So perhaps there is no reason to believe that the fall won’t be as well.
Bob Surace is smack in the middle of his second year as head football coach at Princeton University.
In his first attempt, the Tigers remained declawed for the fourth straight season, losing nine of their 10 games.
This summer there are more players on campus.
They are working with the strength coach and working out, close to 70 of them. Some are taking classes, some are doing internships.
Others have jobs, like senior wide receiver Isaac Serwanga in the Lewis Library, and senior quarterback Tom Wornham in the equipment room at Caldwell Fieldhouse.
There’s a different work ethic now, a different attitude.
“First and foremost,“ said Serwanga, sitting on a couch in the coach’s office recently, “it’s from a leadership aspect. Having Tommy and (Steve) Cody around, it’s good to see these guys leading us through summer. I think that will definitely help us moving into this season.
“We’ve had great leadership in the past.“ Wornham added.
“But this year it seems like our entire senior class is one big leader. We’re all pushing each other. I know the coaches don’t have to do as much yelling anymore, as in the spring. We’re doing most of the yelling now, because we want to turn it around.
“We’re sick of what’s happened here, and we want to bring the program back. We’re all optimistic.“
That includes the leader of the leaders. Surace, a 1990 graduate of Princeton who played on the ’89 Ivy League championship team, knows of what he speaks.
He knows the demands of Ivy League classrooms as well as the demands of championship football.
And, as someone who coached as an assistant in the National Football League with Cincinnati nine years, he knows even more.
“You get a Ph.D in football up there,“ he said about the NFL.
“You can’t get that anywhere else. You hope you learn enough so you always have answers: how you work; how you deal with issues; how to organize programs; how to scheme things.
“You may catch a player’s attention right away,“ he said about the glitz of an NFL resume’. But if you don’t have answers, if you’re not good at what you do … they want to be coached and coached well.
So you gain their respect by how you do that, and hopefully they see me as a real person, the same me as someone who cares about them and who wants their college experience to be just as good if not better than mine. And culminate with an Ivy League title.”
He hopes to get the attention of some 700 high school players at the PU football camp this week, and also July 15-16.
But the date on his mind is Aug. 23, when the Tigers officially begin practice.
“That’s the biggie for me,“ he said, “setting the tone. Like last year, the 30 kids we (recruit) this year better be 30 guys who can win a championship.
We need depth, we need to get stronger, and we need balance.”
That is when the real changes will take place.
“They’re expecting a lot from us,“ Wornham said. “I mean, it’s great. He’s an awesome guy, really. He’s looking out for us.”
And looking for change.
By Paul Franklin, The Trenton Times