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Stan Becton | | January 29, 2022

We picked the top-5 players all-time for Harvard football

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Harvard may be known for its academic prowess, but its football program also has a storied history that includes national championships, a Rose Bowl victory, numerous College Football Hall of Fame inductees and more. With such history, let's dive into the top individual players in Harvard history.

The top-5 players all-time for Harvard football

*The Ivy League schools, including Harvard, moved down to the FCS level in 1982. This list looks at players since that season, taking into consideration things including, but not limited to, national awards won, championships won, and All-American accolades*

1. WR Carl Morris

Just how good was Carl Morris at wide receiver at Harvard? A quick look a the record book answers that question.

Morris owns the record for receiving yards gained with 3,488; he also owns the top three single-season receiving yards with 920, 943 and 1,288 from 2000-2002, respectively. In 2002 against Dartmouth, Morris set the record for the most receptions and receiving yards in a single game with 21 catches for 247 yards. He leads Harvard in career touchdown receptions with 28, owning three of the top four single-season reception touchdown performances. His 245 career receptions are also a school record; the top three single-season performances in that category belong to Morris too.

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However, Morris was more than a stat-stuffing machine, making timely plays to help Harvard win games. On Nov. 10, 2001, Morris scored two touchdowns against Penn, including a 62-yarder, rallying back from a 14-point deficit in a battle of undefeated Ivy League teams. Morris' game helped the Crimson to an Ivy League title and 9-0 season, Harvard's first perfect season in 88 years.

When it comes to hardware, Carl Morris has that too; he's the second player ever to win the Asa S. Bushnell Cup in back-to-back years. With the awards, stats and team success to prove it, there's no doubt that Carl Morris is the best wide receiver in Harvard history.

2. QB Neil Rose

Morris' primary quarterback at Harvard was Neil Rose. In Neil Rose's first collegiate start, he threw for a school-record 412 yards. The first outing was a sign of things to come for Rose, who finished his career as Harvard's leader in career total offense. In the 2001 comeback victory against Penn, Rose threw three touchdowns in the victorious effort. While wins aren't always the best measure of a quarterback's success, Rose leading the 2001 Crimson to an undefeated season places him in Harvard history.

THE GAME: Memorable moments, all-time history from Harvard vs. Yale

3. RB Clifton Dawson

From 2003-2006, running back Clifton Dawson scored 66 total touchdowns, a Harvard record. Dawson's seasons from 2004-2006 sit first, second and fifth on the Crimson single-season total touchdowns list. 

Yet, what's most impressive about Dawson's career is that he became the Ivy League's all-time leading rusher with 4,841 rushing yards, surpassing Cornell legend Ed Marinaro. Dawson earned First-Team All-American honors in 2004, highlighting a fantastic career.

4. LB Isaiah Kacyvenski

Linebacker Isaiah Kacyvenski is Harvard's all-time leading tackler, finishing his career with 395 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 11 interceptions, and eight fumble recoveries. In 1998, he set the single-season tackles record at 108, only to break it the following season with 135 tackles. Also in 1999, Kacyvenski made 20 tackles in a game twice, setting and tying a record, and finished as a finalist for the Buck Buchanan Award. 

AWARDS: Walter Payton Award history | Buck Buchanan Award history | Jerry Rice Award history

Kacyvenski started every game over his four years with the Crimson earning Ivy League Rookie of the Year honors followed by First-Team All-Ivy honors three times. Kacyvenski's standout Harvard career culminated with his selection as the highest NFL draft pick in program history, going in the fourth round to the Seattle Seahawks.

5. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick

Before the beard, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was carving up Ivy League defenses. In 2003, Fitzpatrick gained 471 total yards of offense against Holy Cross. The next season, Fitzpatrick led Harvard to its seventh unbeaten, untied season in school history and its best season since 1901. In the season's final game, "The Game" against Yale, Fitzpatrick threw four touchdowns in a 35-3 blowout victory. Fitzpatrick won the 2004 Bushnell Cup and finished his career with the most plays and yards of total offense in school history. However, it's the team success that gives him the edge needed for the fifth spot.

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Notable Omissions

  • QB Chris Pizzotti
  • QB Scott Hosch
  • RB Chris Menick 
  • TE Anthony Firkser
  • TE Cameron Brate
  • TE Ben Braunecker
  • TE Kyle Juszczyk
  • DE Tim Fleiszer
  • DE Zack Hodges
  • DE Don Peterson
  • DB Cecil Cox

Running back Chris Menick misses out on the top-five despite finishing his career as Harvard's all-time leading rusher with 3,330 yards on 726 attempts. What keeps him off the list are his 26 rushing touchdowns; that total was good for second-best at his career's conclusion and has since been passed three times. Menick averaged a touchdown run on almost every 28 attempts, an average that trails other Crimson backs who had to split carries over portions of their careers.

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At the FCS level, Harvard has a claim to "Tight End U" with the quartet of tight ends among the notable omissions. All four advanced to the NFL after their time at Harvard, but Braunecker and Juszczyk stand out the most. Braunecker was a consensus All-American in 2015; Juszczyk earned First-Team All-American honors in 2012. Juszczyk tied the program record for single-game touchdown receptions (three against Princeton in 2012) and finished his career with 1,576 yards and 22 career touchdown receptions, good for third-most all-time.

On defense, the accolades continue in the notable omissions. Defensive end Tim Fleiszer made Harvard history being selected first overall in the 1998 CFL draft while his positional counterpart Zack Hodges won the Bushnell Cup twice. Elsewhere, defensive back Cecil Cox set the Crimson interception record, picking off eight passes in 1985.

HISTORY: Schools with the most FCS titles | 9 winningest FCS programs all time | Championship history

Who could be next

RB Aidan Borguet

The former Ivy League Rookie of the Year set the all-time rushing record in "The Game" as a freshman with 269 yards. That's the second-most single-game rushing yards in Harvard history. After earning Second-Team All-Ivy honors in 2021 in a complementary role, Borguet has a chance to climb the Crimson record books as the lead back, thanks to Aaron Shampklin's departure.

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