Ryan Cragun showed the Penn football team he was a playmaker as a freshman. He was sure-handed, fast, “but not that fast,” coach Ray Priore said, and he could make the spectacular catch.
But this was on the scout team.
Physically, the ability was there, but the receiver had to clear one last hurdle. Penn wanted to see Cragun grasp the mental side of the game.
“Watching something on a card and just saying ‘go here,’ there’s no thought process and that’s easy to do. Now he’s applying that to our schemes and systems, and it’s really good,” Priore said.
Cragun passed his test with flying colors.
The Quakers had one 100-yard receiving day last year while there was a guy on the scout team making play after play. Now, Cragun is producing on game days. In six games, the 6-foot-1 sophomore has 748 receiving yards, tops in the Ivy League, for the 3-4 Quakers.
Yep, that’s right. Cragun has missed a game and still leads the Ivy League by 84 yards.
“You want to be a quarterback throwing the ball to that guy. There’s no doubt,” Priore said.
Cragun’s production has helped Nick Robinson at quarterback, but he’s also taken pressure off conference-leading rusher Karekin Brooks. Brooks is creeping up the Penn all-time rushing list with 2,605 career yards. He is 112 yards behind Terrance Stokes for the No. 3 spot.
An injury kept Brooks out last week against Brown, but he should be good to go this weekend.
Penn (3-4, 1-3 Ivy) will host Cornell (2-5, 1-3 Ivy) at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Franklin Field. The Ivy League foes have met 125 times, with Penn leading the series, 74-46-5. A win Saturday would be the Quakers’ sixth in a row against the Big Red.
Don’t be fooled by the record. Cornell hasn’t lost by more than 14 points this season. Every game the Big Red have played has been decided by two or fewer possessions.
“That’s the school’s biggest rival, so we’re very excited about this,” Priore said. “People look at records, but you can take those things out.”