PRINCETON: DeValve gives PU a boost

By Bob Nuse, Sports Editor
Seth DeValve never planned to be on the football field at Princeton this year.
But last year’s misfortune might just turn out to be this year’s gain for the Tigers, who welcome their top receiver back for another year after missing the final eight games of the season last year.
“It’s such a pleasure to be back,” said DeValve, who caught 19 passes in two games last year after catching 49 the previous season. “My original plan as a freshman was not to be here in 2015-2016, but that’s the way everything went and I am really grateful to be back in this program, at this school, on this field, with these guys. I wouldn’t do it if it were not for my teammates. Football is a very difficult game. It’s your teammates that make it all worthwhile.”
DeValve, one of the Tigers’ captains this year, feels like he has a special group of teammates around him and that could lead to the kind of season that coming back for another year worthwhile.
“It has been a little while since I played,” DeValve said at last week’s Media Day. “I have been working hard getting myself ready to go and getting the team ready to go. We’re 11 practices in now and every day is a little bit closer.
“That was a huge honor to be voted captain. I love all the guys on this team. It’s a huge honor to have that favor returned. Nothing changes by the title. It’s simply a title. What the leaders do on this team is what we do regardless of if we are called a captain or not. There are a lot of leaders on this team. It’s an honor to be given the title but regardless of whether I was given that title or not the leaders lead.”
The Tigers have a big hole to fill at quarterback, where whomever emerges from the preseason competition for the position will be a newcomer. But there is depth and experience at many of the other positions, as well as a positive attitude about what the Tigers can accomplish this year.
“There are leaders on this team at every single level, freshmen through senior,” DeValve said. “It’s guys who come in every day with the right attitude and mindset and work ethic. When you get enough guys with the right attitude it is contagious. Just like when it goes the opposite if you get enough guys that don’t want to work that attitude is contagious.”
DeValve feels like the positive attitude surrounding the team will have them ready to go when they open the season on Sept. 19 at Lafayette.
“There are a lot of factors that go into a great football team,” DeValve said. “It’s not just talent. It’s not just the quality or quantity of guys that you have. A lot of times the pre-season rankings look at those kinds of things. But it is so much bigger than that.
“Good teams are committed to the program, the two hours of practice and the 22 hours off the field. And great teams will commit their lifestyle to it. Taking care of themselves when they are not practicing or playing. Taking care of each other. Committing to learning the game plan. Committing to getting their rest. You get enough guys that commit their lifestyle to it and you have a great team. It’s something you discover early in the season, what kind of group that you have.”
DeValve and Matt Arends give the Tigers a pair of captains who know all about leadership on the football field. And PU coach Bob Surace is happy to have them.
“We’ve had great captains here at Princeton,” Surace said. “I go back to 1985 or so and you see the group of guys that have been captains. Many of them have been terrific football players and (DeValve) fits that category. Some of the recent guys fit that category and they are also super human beings. Seth is a great human being in every way. From tutoring a friend of mine’s kid in math who is a super genius kid and hearing about his internship and what he does and how successful he was.
“I like the fact he and Matt will both call me or text me and let me know things like we need a new trash can in the training room.”
In addition to what he does in the leadership department, DeValve’s return to the field also brings a unique skill set to the receiver position.
“He’s an incredible player and an incredible worker,” Princeton offensive coordinator James Perry said. “You can’t have a better captain. He’s in shape, he runs, he works. He’s a very unselfish kid. His injury last year hurt us a lot. But on the flipside, here he is out here bringing that practice intensity and work ethic that we need and he’s a rare person in this league. You just don’t usually see guys that are that big and can run that fast.
“He’s just a very dynamic guy because not only is he a big, fast guy, but he can really catch the ball. When you can have a guy put his hand on the ground and play like a tight end and then split him out wide and send him deep, that’s a unique position to be in. In addition to that, both he and Quinn (Epperly) are dynamic practicers. And with some of the injury time Quinn had as well we didn’t have two of the best practicers I have ever coached. So you miss that. We’ve had a great attitude how we have attacked these practices this fall.” 