Football freshmen find their footing amid team success


First-year quarterback Liam O’Brien throws the ball during a practice drill Sept. 8. Anna Vazhaeparambil

Although most Penn football freshmen do not play on game days, they are key to the program’s future success and go through a rigorous recruiting process during high school.

For some freshmen, the dedication, high standards and intensity that drive Quakers’ success are familiar territory. Freshman offensive lineman Jake Bingham came to Penn after winning a Mid-Atlantic Prep League title at The Hun School.

When it came time for the recruiting process and balancing the highs and lows, Bingham sought to find a place with a culture similar to that of her New Jersey high school. It didn’t take long for him to realize that Penn offered the best solution.

“I think a lot of times during the recruiting process people told me coaches would tell you what you want to hear,” Bingham said. “For me, it was the opposite experience. [Penn] the coaches were really honest and supportive.

As Penn’s season progressed, Bingham’s choice was confirmed – he values ​​the sense of family he shares with his coaches and has grown to appreciate the challenge that college football offers.

Adjusting to the rigors of college play has been a common theme for Penn’s freshman class. Freshman quarterback Liam O’Brien, who played high school football at Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts, echoed Bingham’s appreciation for the Ancient Eight football challenge.

“Mentally, I feel like the college game is taking another step,” O’Brien said. “It’s much more serious in a good way.”

Credit: Anna Vazhaeparambil
First-year offensive lineman Jake Bingham pushes against football dummies during a practice drill September 13.

O’Brien is especially grateful to be immersed in an environment where teammates push each other to thrive on the field and where coaches mentor players to succeed both athletically and academically. Another player who has enjoyed learning from his veteran teammates is first-year defensive lineman Brady Ioannidis.

Despite the diversity of skills and backgrounds of the Rouge et Bleu players, Ioannidis likes how he and his Penn teammates are similar in purpose and drive. The Ontario native has developed a bond with senior lineman and 2021 All-Ivy Honorable Mention winner Jake Heimlicher.

“Jake Heimlicher is a guy who took me under his wing. I learned a lot from him,” Ioannidis said.

In addition to the support he’s received from his teammates, a combination of Penn’s elite coaching staff and competitive culture has allowed Ioannidis to transform his placement technique and knowledge of the nuances of the game since joining. at training camp.

As a student of the game, moments like walking into Penn’s movie theater to dissect Stanford against Colgate before the Quakers’ season opener seemed surreal to Ioannidis.

Credit: Anna Vazhaeparambil
Freshman defensive lineman Brady Ioannidis runs on Franklin Field with his teammates at the start of the game against Yale on Oct. 22.

Following the Quakers’ loss to Brown, the team has three games left in its season. These three games will be three more opportunities for freshmen like Jake Bingham, Liam O’Brien and Brady Ioannidis to grow as players and embrace the experience of playing the Ivy League.


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