For people who just began following Yale football last season, the name Jeff Mroz ’06 probably does not ring a bell. But Mroz is ready to change that.
Just before starting spring football practices, the Bulldogs voted to elect Mroz the 128th captain of a football program that is heading into its 133rd year. Although Mroz took last semester off and did not play during the 2004 season, the pro-style quarterback is poised to make an impact as he returns to the helm of the offense. With 1,731 yards and 14 touchdowns thrown in the nine games he started in during the 2002 season, Mroz has the experience to get the job done, head coach Jack Siedlecki said.
“Jeff is a great leader in the huddle and having him in spring practice will make his transition from the semester off easier,” Siedlecki said. “He is a great competitor and gets others to compete with him.”
Mroz said the vote of confidence he received from his teammates in being elected captain means a lot to him.
“It’s a great honor and it’s very special,” he said. “I have a great deal of respect for the guys.”
Although Mroz did not play last fall, he showed the Bulldogs he was a committed player by coming to every practice and game while working for Winchester Capital, an investment banking firm, and Soundview Capital Management, a stock brokerage firm.
“He showed such a tremendous commitment to us when he wasn’t even playing and that combined with the fact that he’s a natural leader,” defensive end Brandon Etheridge ’07 said.
Alex Faherty ’06 said Mroz is in a good position to lead the team as a quarterback.
“He is in charge of the offense and how well we do rides on his shoulders,” Faherty said. “As captain, he is going to take things into his own hands and what we run will be what he’s most comfortable doing. The coaches give him a lot of ability to do what he wants to do.”
Mroz said being the captain carries with it a great deal of responsibility.
“I want to represent a good team, but not only good in how we play, but also kids who play hard, who want to play and are excited about playing football,” Mroz said. “I want to get people excited and a lot of that will translate into winning football games.”
After finishing third in the Ancient Eight with a 3-4 conference record last season, the Elis hope to have a more successful campaign in 2005. Mroz said spring practice has shown that they have the weapons to do that.
“So far there have been great efforts and people are stepping up, especially wide receivers,” Mroz said. “[Running back] David Knox [’06] and I are back and working on getting chemistry back. My main goal is to make plays and put points on the board.”
Siedlecki said the 6-foot-5, 225-pound Mroz will do a good job as quarterback, especially since he has great vision when it comes to the field and his receivers.
“Jeff throws the deep ball as well as any quarterback I have coached,” Siedlecki said. “He works very hard at the game, spending hours in the film room.”
Besides throwing well, the signal caller from the Pittsburgh area also has the job of coordinating the relationship between the coaching staff and the other players.
“The coaches have been great with us and with me,” Mroz said. “They have given me a lot of freedom, and that’s what a quarterback wants, to be able to call audibles and change the plays. They have total confidence in me. We have a great relationship and the team has responded very well.”
From dealing with the coaches to getting his teammates pumped up during spring practices, Mroz is training for the fall when he will have to do all of these things while dealing with the pressure of intense Ancient Eight competitions. Whether he has succeeded or not cannot be judged until Thanksgiving, but right now Mroz has the tools he needs to get on the right track.
“Jeff is a great organizer as far as putting things together,” said Knox, who was out last fall because of a hernia injury. “He’s a good speaker and has a lot of good ideas for the offense that I think will work out well. I see him being a great leader and a great captain for us this upcoming season.”