Unfortunately every year the Lancers must say farewell to those players who have served them over the years, and 2017 is no different. While football is undoubtedly a memorable part of the Oxford experience, there comes a time when we all must hang up the cleats and head back out into the real world. We would like to thank the following players for their hard work and dedication to the team and wish them the best of luck in their future endeavors.
Jonny ‘Priest’ Brooks joined the Lancers in 2012, and played 5 full seasons for the Lancers during his time at Oxford. One of the longest serving and most passionate Lancers to ever step foot on the field, Priest and his signature red helmet will be sorely missed. Having played running back, wide receiver, defensive end and safety for the Lancers, Priest’s athleticism and dynamism cannot be understated. As well as being a great player at every position he turned his hand to, Priest was also a vocal leader for the team, always showing his passion on the sidelines (on the rare occasion he wasn’t on the field!). Priest often led the huddle for the Lancers and his unrivalled energy, passion for the game, and tremendous football ability will all be truly be missed next year. Priest has graduated with a Dphil in Systems Biology and is currently working at News UK.
Joe ‘Trinity’ Barker joined the Lancers in 2015, initially playing both defensive back and a bit of wide receiver. However, in his second season with the Lancers, Trin came into his own at wide receiver, focussing on the position full time. At 6’4”, Trin had great size and length for the position, and always seemed to have a knack for making tough catches in clutch situations, when they were needed most. His ability to come up big in these moments is something that I’m sure the Lancers will sorely miss next year. Trinity graduated with a BA in Mathematics and is going to be working for a private asset management firm in London called Ruffer.
One year wonder Matthew Shore joined the Lancers halfway through this 2016/17 season, and immediately took over the shutdown cornerback role, despite not knowing who Darrelle Revis or Richard Sherman were. This speaks volumes about Matt’s natural talent and movement ability; the fact he shut down division 1 talent on a consistent basis from the get go is extremely impressive. Not only this, but as the season progressed, Matt also developed a knack for tackling, regularly delivering a big hit or two on an unsuspecting running back or receiver. Matt’s all round ability at the cornerback position is something that the Lancers will definitely miss next year. Matt going to do the Law Conversion course at City University in London then will try to become a barrister.
Also joining us this year, Nick Azar came from across the pond to line up on the opposite side of Matt, helping to develop a solid secondary for the Lancers. A visiting student; Nick always had impressive fundamentals, and a great knowledge of the game that served him extremely well this year. As well as being a great cover man, his ability to shed blocks in the run game proved very useful for the Lancers this year. His presence on the outside is something that will be missed next year. Nick has one more year at Pomona to finish his undergrad degree in Math and Economics, and then will pursue a graduate degree or work in finance.
Alon Witznum also joined the Lancers for the 2016/17 season, shoring up the guard spot on the offensive line from the beginning. Alon picked up the game quickly and became a staple on the offensive line. His hard work and dedication to the team valuable assets and he quickly became a leader among his teammates on the O-line. Alon's passion and hunger to win is something which will be missed at training sessions and games next year. He graduated with a Dphil in Oncology and is now a Medical Physics Resident at UCSF, a 2 year clinical training position in radiotherapy in the Department for Radiation Oncology. He will continue to work closely with physicians to plan and deliver accurate and safe radiation treatments for cancer patients.
Brahma Mohanty, a former Cambridge Python, joined the Lancers offensive line specifically for Varsity this season. Training exceptionally hard for the event, Brahma showed great passion and a hunger to beat his former teammates. His presence was something which many Lancers used to motivate themselves towards a victory at Varsity. Brahma, an active member in the Labor party, will continue to work full time in London in finance while he finishes his part-time degree at Oxford.
Another visiting student from the US, Machmud Makhmudov had a knack for catching the long ball from the get go. As soon as he joined the Lancers, he showed great catching ability and in the first half of the season always seemed to be reeling in long balls; scoring the Lancers first TD of the year. Sadly, in the 3rd game of this season he suffered a nasty concussion, and after consulting his doctor he was advised it would be best that he sat out the rest of the season. Unfortunately, this cut Machmud’s Lancers career short, and the team missed his deep threat ability in the second half of the season. Machmud, his blocking ability, and his speed will continued to be missed by all at the Lancers.
Tom Carroll was another Lancer who’s career was sadly cut short for medical reasons. Tom had a great leg and solidified his spot as the team place kicker from the beginning of the season; kicking a couple of field goals in the preseason. After he left, the Lancers sorely missed the ability to kick field goals, having played in many close fought games where Tom probably could have made the difference. Nevertheless, Tom continued to provide great support on the sidelines and at practice, and we would like to extend a huge thanks to him for his help throughout the season.
Matt Williamson was another one year player, making the switch to American Football from Rugby League. Matt dominated the linebacker position with his hard-hitting attitude and physical toughness. He was a bane to running backs and managed to record the most tackles on the season, slightly edging out veteran Jonny Brooks, and earning him the Defensive Player of the Year Award. Matt is submitting his thesis to attain a Dphil Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics. He studies the protective function of a gene called Oxr1 and its potential use as a novel therapeutic strategy to treat motor neuron disease and plans to become a postdoctoral scientist and continue working on the molecular mechanisms involved in neurodegenerative disease.
Finally, the Lancers would like to thank Coach Ben John for all his hard work over the past few years. Ben began his tenure with the Lancers as a right guard in the 2013-2014 season. His knowledge and influence was a great asset to the Lancers and after his degree he began coaching the offensive line. He coached the O-Line from 2014- 2017, a difficult task as the O-line is one of the most crucial positions in the game and also one of the positions that UK players are least familiar with. Ben always showed a calm but determined presence when developing his players and was greatly influential in developing the Lancers into a solid football program. Ben suited back up in a Lancers' jersey this year on Tour for one last ride and showed his playing skills at right guard against UCD football. It was a great game and fun for his players to suit up with him for one game. He is taking on a new job teaching History in Bath next year and will also be looking to continue coaching football in Bristol.
The Lancers would like to an extent a massive thank you & congratulations to all those players who have graduated or are moving on - you will all be missed.