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Penn football’s Prince Emili emerging as vocal leader

Seniors led a players-only meeting after a 44-6 loss to Columbia.

Penn defensive lineman Prince Emili in the fourth quarter of a game against Sacred Heart.
Penn defensive lineman Prince Emili in the fourth quarter of a game against Sacred Heart.Read moreHEATHER KHALIFA / Staff Photographer

Penn head coach Ray Priore got a text from senior defensive lineman Prince Emili Saturday night after a 44-6 loss to Columbia.

“Coach, we’re not standing for this,” the text read.

The loss to Columbia was Penn’s worst loss of the season. It was the first time the Quakers have lost back-to-back games at Columbia since 1979 and 1981.

“When they’re texting you and you’re not texting them," Priore said, “I think those are the type of kids you look for.”

The team held a players-only meeting after the loss, and the seniors took charge. The coaches weren’t present for the meeting, but the message was carried out on the practice field on Sunday. The seniors set the tone, and the players ran their own gassers, which is a drill that involves sprinting across a football field to the opposite sideline and back.

“You like to see that stuff because it helps you short-term, but it also helps you long-term on what the standard is,” Priore said.

Emili is one of those senior leaders.

Emili has started every game this season and has a tackle for a loss in the last four games. He is not listed as a captain, but that hasn’t altered his approach.

“He is the one [player] that was the most vocal,” Priore said. “Sometimes your best leaders aren’t your captains.”

Penn (2-3, 0-2 Ivy) will travel to Yale (4-1, 1-1 Ivy) on Saturday at noon for their 87th meeting. Yale leads the series, 49-36-1, and won last season, 23-10.

The emphasis on Sunday while running gassers and in team meetings this week was “to finish.”

“I’m fully expecting our kids to really do this when they step on the football field [Saturday],” Priore said. “You gotta play hard for four quarters and never take your foot off the gas.”