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Princeton’s Kanoff, Yale’s Oplinger Named 2017 Ivy League Football Players of the Year, Bushnell Cup Recipients
The Pasadena Tournament of Roses presented the press conference and reception in New York City, which kicked off events surrounding the 60th NFF Annual Awards Dinner.
Published: 12/4/2017 2:15:00 PM

NEW YORK -- Princeton senior quarterback Chad Kanoff and Yale senior linebacker Matthew Oplinger were announced as the Ivy League’s 2017 Football Players of the Year and Asa S. Bushnell Cup recipients in front of a capacity crowd in the Mercury Ballroom of the New York Hilton Midtown.

Kanoff was named Offensive Player of the Year and Oplinger took home Defensive Player of the Year at a special press conference and reception co-hosted by the National Football Foundation (NFF), presented by the Pasadena Tournament of Roses and broadcast live on the Ivy League Network (ILN). An archive of the broadcast is now available on ILN and can be found by visiting IvyLeague.tv.

Oplinger is the 10th Bulldog to receive the Bushnell Cup and the first since Tyler Varga was named Offensive Player of the Year in 2014. Oplinger is the first-ever Yale athlete to be named Defensive Player of the Year since its inception in 2011.

Oplinger is the third Yale defensive player to be honored with the Bushnell Cup and the first since linebacker Tim Tumpane and defensive lineman Kevin Czinger went back-to-back in 1979 and 1980.

Kanoff is the third Tiger to be named Offensive Player of the Year in the past five years, joining Quinn Epperly (2013) and John Lovett (2017), and the fifth to earn Player of the Year since the award expanded to Offensive and Defensive in 2011. Kanoff is the 11th Princeton athlete to receive the Bushnell Cup.

Kanoff is the eighth Bushnell Cup winner to come from a team that finished in the bottom half of the League standings, joining Dartmouth’s Folarin Orimolade (2016), Cornell’s Jeff Mathews (2011), Dartmouth’s Nick Schwieger (2010), Cornell’s Derrick Harmon (1983), Columbia’s John Witkowski (1982) and Doug Jackson (1975) and Princeton’s Walt Snickenberger (1974).

Oplinger led the Ivy League with 11.5 sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss. He ranked second in FCS in sacks per game and tied for second in sacks, and his tackles per loss per game is 20th in FCS. He posted two sacks in the Bulldogs’ win over Harvard that gave them their first outright title since 1980. He recorded at least one sack in seven games this season, including three and a safety against Holy Cross. For his career, Oplinger has 21.5 sacks, third-best in Yale history. He was named a Buck Buchanan Award Finalist for the FCS Defensive Player of the Year. Oplinger led a Bulldogs defense that paced the League in scoring defense (15.6), total defense (302.8) and rushing defense (73.1), while also ranking second in pass defense efficiency (111.6). In the national rankings, Yale is third in rushing defense, eighth in scoring defense and 13th in total defense.

Oplinger is the second in his family to win an Ivy title with Yale, as his older brother Justin was a part of the 2006 squad. Oplinger and his family have worked extensively with Healing the Children, through which they foster children from other countries who need surgeries.

Kanoff led the League’s top offense, breaking the all-time single-season passing record with 3,474 yards, eclipsing the previous mark of 3,412, set in 2011 by Cornell's Jeff Mathews. He also broke the Ivy League single-season completion percentage of 73.2, breaking the mark held by current Dallas Cowboys head coach and former Princeton Bushnell Cup winner Jason Garrett. Among his many accomplishments in 2017, Kanoff broke the Princeton record for single-season completions with 284, third-best in Ivy League history, and set the Tigers record with 29 passing touchdowns, matching the second-most in a single season in Ivy history. He also tied the Ivy League record with three 400-yard passing games and eight 300-yard passing games in a single season.

Kanoff nearly went to Vanderbilt before deciding to take his talents to the Ivy League. Off the field, he is part of the team chapter for Uplifting Athletes which works to raise money for rare diseases, specifically aplastic anemia, which impacted former Tiger Jordan Culbreath. Kanoff was selected to present his Junior Thesis, “Cyber Warfare: A Call to Arms for the Intelligence Community,” at the CIA in Langley, Va.

Kanoff and Oplinger were selected as Bushnell Cup finalists, along with Brown senior linebacker Richard Jarvis, Penn junior linebacker Nick Miller and senior wide receiver Justin Watson, in a vote by the League’s eight head coaches.


ASA S. BUSHNELL CUP HISTORY
Presented annually since 1970, The Asa S. Bushnell Cup honors its namesake, a 1921 Princeton alumnus and the commissioner of the Eastern College Athletic Conference from 1938 to 1970. The Bushnell Cup is awarded by a vote of the Ivy League's eight head football coaches to the players who display outstanding qualities of leadership, competitive spirit, contribution to the team and accomplishments on the field.

From 1970 to 2010, the Bushnell Cup recognized an Ivy League Player of the Year (or co-Players of the Year if there was a tie in voting). Beginning with the 2010 season, the award was presented as a part of the festivities surrounding the NFF Annual Awards Dinner with four finalists named a week prior to the presentation. Beginning with the 2011 season, the award began recognizing Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year, honoring each as a recipient of the Bushnell Cup. Two offensive finalists and two defensive finalists are named with the Players of the Year unveiled at the presentation.

All-Time Recipient List

1970 - Jim Chasey, QB, Dartmouth & Ed Marinaro, RB, Cornell

1971 - Ed Marinaro, RB, Cornell

1972 - Dick Jauron, RB, Yale

1973 - Jim Stoeckel, QB, Harvard

1974 - Walt Snickenberger, RB, Princeton

1975 - Doug Jackson, RB, Columbia

1976 - John Pagliaro, RB, Yale

1977 - John Pagliaro, RB, Yale

1978 - Buddy Teevens, QB, Dartmouth

1979 - Tim Tumpane, LB, Yale

1980 - Kevin Czinger, MG, Yale

1981 - Rich Diana, RB, Yale

1982 - John Witkowski, QB, Columbia

1983 - Derrick Harmon, RB, Cornell

1984 - Tim Chambers, DB, Penn

1985 - Tom Gilmore, DT, Penn

1986 - Rich Comizio, RB, Penn

1987 - Kelly Ryan, QB, Yale

1988 - Jason Garrett, QB, Princeton

1989 - Judd Garrett, RB, Princeton

1990 - Shon Page, RB, Dartmouth

1991 - Al Rosier, RB, Dartmouth

1992 - Jay Fiedler, QB, Dartmouth

1993 - Keith Elias, RB, Princeton

1994 - Pat Goodwillie, LB, Penn

1995 - Dave Patterson, LB, Princeton

1996 - Chad Levitt, RB, Cornell

1997 - Sean Morey, WR, Brown

1998 - Jim Finn, RB, Penn

1999 - James Perry, QB, Brown

2000 - Gavin Hoffman, QB, Penn

2001 - Carl Morris, WR, Harvard

2002 - Carl Morris, WR, Harvard

2003 - Mike Mitchell, QB, Penn

2004 - Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Harvard

2005 - Nick Hartigan, RB, Brown

2006 - Jeff Terrell, QB, Princeton

2007 - Mike McLeod, RB, Yale

2008 - Chris Pizzotti, QB, Harvard

2009 - Buddy Farnham, WR, Brown & Jake Lewko, LB, Penn

2010 - Gino Gordon, RB, Harvard & Nick Schwieger, RB, Dartmouth

2011 - Offensive Player of the Year: Jeff Mathews, QB, Cornell

           Defensive Player of the Year: Josue Ortiz, DT, Harvard

2012 - Offensive Player of the Year: Colton Chapple, QB, Harvard

           Defensive Player of the Year: Mike Catapano, DL, Princeton

2013 - Offensive Player of the Year: Quinn Epperly, QB, Princeton

           Defensive Player of the Year: Zack Hodges, DE, Harvard

2014 - Offensive Player of the Year: Tyler Varga, RB, Yale

           Co-Defensive Players of the Year: Zack Hodges, DE, Harvard & Mike Zeuli, LB, Princeton

2015 - Offensive Player of the Year: Scott Hosch, QB, Harvard

            Defensive Player of the Year: Tyler Drake, LB, Penn

2016 - Offensive Player of the Year: John Lovett, QB, Princeton

            Defensive Player of the Year: Folarin Orimolade, LB, Dartmouth

Player of the Year Finalists

2010 - Trey Peacock, WR, Princeton &

Billy Ragone, QB, Penn

2011 - Erik Rask, LB, Penn &

Nick Schwieger, RB, Dartmouth

2012 - Jeff Mathews, QB, Cornell &

AJ Cruz, DB, Brown

2013 - John Spooney, RB, Brown &

Caraun Reid, DL, Princeton

2014 - Dalyn Williams, QB, Dartmouth

2015 - Will McNamara, LB, Dartmouth &

Justin Watson, WR, Penn

2016 - Kurt Holuba, DL, Princeton &

Justin Watson, WR, Penn

Several past Bushnell Cup recipients currently hold impressive coaching positions, including: Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett, Dallas Cowboys Director of Pro Scouting Judd Garrett, Bryant head coach James Perry and Dartmouth head coach Buddy Teevens.

The evening following the Bushnell Cup Presentation, the NFF will stage its 60th Annual Awards Dinner also at the New York Hilton Midtown. As the culmination of the regular season, the event provides the stage for the induction of the 2017 College Football Hall of Fame Class; the presentation of the 2017 NFF National Scholar-Athlete Awards, presented by Fidelity Investments; and the bestowing of the 28th NFF William V. Campbell Trophy®, presented by Fidelity Investments and named for the former Columbia player and head coach and 2004 recipient of the NFF’s Gold Medal, to the nation's top scholar-athlete.

Eight NFF National Scholar-Athletes have claimed the Bushnell Cup: Dick Jauron (Yale, 1972), Kevin Czinger (Yale, 1980), Richard Diana (Yale, 1981), Tom Gilmore (Penn, 1985), Keith Elias (Princeton, 1993), Nick Hartigan (Brown, 2005), Jeff Mathews (Cornell, 2011) and Tyler Varga (Yale, 2014).

Jauron was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a member of the 2015 class. He joined Ed Marinaro (Cornell) as the only two members of the Hall to have claimed the Bushnell Cup, and Jauron is the first person ever to hold all three titles as a Bushnell Cup recipient, NFF National Scholar-Athlete and a College Football Hall of Famer.


-- The Pasadena Tournament of Roses – 
The Tournament of Roses is a volunteer organization that hosts America’s New Year Celebration® with the Rose Parade® presented by Honda, the Rose Bowl Game® presented by Northwestern Mutual and a variety of accompanying events. 935 volunteer members of the association will drive the success of 129th Rose Parade themed “Making a Difference,” on Monday, January 1, 2018, followed by the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the 104th Rose Bowl Game.  For more information, visit www.tournamentofroses.com. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

-- The NFF
Founded in 1947 with early leadership from General Douglas MacArthur, legendary Army coach Earl "Red" Blaik and immortal journalist Grantland Rice, The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame is a non-profit educational organization that runs programs designed to use the power of amateur football in developing scholarship, citizenship and athletic achievement in young people. With 120 chapters and 12,000 members nationwide, NFF programs include FootballMatters.org, the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta, The William V. Campbell Trophy® presented by Fidelity Investments, annual scholarships of more than $1.3 million and a series of initiatives to honor the legends of the past and inspire the leaders of the future. NFF corporate partners include Delta Air Lines, Fidelity Investments, Herff Jones, New York Athletic Club, Pasadena Tournament of Roses, PrimeSport, the Sports Business Journal, Under Armour and VICIS. Learn more at www.footballfoundation.org.

-- The Ivy League
The Ivy League is the most diverse intercollegiate conference in the country with more than 8,000 student-athletes competing each year. Sponsoring conference championships in 33 men's and women's sports and averaging more than 35 varsity teams at each school, the Ivy League provides more intercollegiate athletic opportunities per school than any other conference in the country. All eight Ivy schools are among the top 20 of NCAA Division I schools in number of sports offered for both men and women and enjoy regular competitive success at the highest championship levels of NCAA Division I athletics.

The League's schools -- Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Penn, Princeton and Yale -- share a rich history of success and influence in college athletics, dating back to the origins of intercollegiate competition. Ivy League institutions have won 287 team national championships and 579 individual national championships since intercollegiate competition began. The Ivy League conference was formally established in 1954, based on the mutual agreement that intercollegiate athletics competition should be "kept in harmony with the essential educational purposes of the institution." For more information, please visit IvyLeague.com.

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