NFC North Division Champ Greg Van Roten

Greg Van Roten (left) originally signed with the Packers practice squad but has since been moved to the active roster.

The Green Bay Packers clinched the NFC North earlier today with a 21-13 road victory over the Chicago Bears, giving former Penn football '12 grad and current Packers offensive lineman Greg Van Roten the chance to celebrate an NFL division championship.

And he did so in style, wearing a cap boasting "NFC North Division Champions" in a photo posted on his Twitter account shortly after the game. "This hat I got for this thing I did," he also wrote on Twitter.

Van Roten currently serves as a backup center and guard and is taking practice snaps with the first team (see story), but he's also been playing on special teams.


30 Seconds With… Greg Van Roten

Greg Van Roten (left) originally signed with the Packers practice squad but has since been moved to the active roster.

Those who watched the Giants crush the Packers on Sunday Night Football this week may have caught a glimpse of former Penn football player and current Green Bay Packers offensive lineman Greg Van Roten. As we wrote two weeks ago, the 2011 grad currently serves as a backup center and guard and is taking practice snaps with the first team (see story), but he's also been playing on special teams.

We took the time to question Van Roten on some of non-Packers questions in this edition of 30 Seconds With:

Do you have Aaron Rodgers’ cell phone number?
No, I don’t think anybody has that.

Best food in Green Bay?
Cheese Cake Heaven. We all go there for the sandwiches, but they’re famous for dessert.

What do you miss most about Penn?
Where do I start? All my friends mostly, but also being in a city like Philly. Never thought I’d say that, but it’s true. I miss Philly.

Best dancer on the team?
Donald Driver, he won Dancing with the Stars.

Tim Tebow or Mark Sanchez?
Ha, neither.

More from Monday’s Media Day

You can read my column and Mikey Wiz's notebook on, but here are a few tidbits about the upcoming season we couldn't fit in:

  • Alternate uniforms: The Quakers went all- Nike in their gear, including new alternate uniforms. Senior WR Joe Holder discussed it a bit on his video yesterday, but here's some more from him:

Quite frankly I love them, they’re pretty stylish to say the least. With all the new gear that Nike gives, they finally got a little modern in their pro cut, which is great for receivers- it makes it easier to catch … It’s all about if you look good you play good, and the team seems to like the uniforms so we can’t complain.

Everybody pretty much enjoys all Nike stuff, especially with the warmup gear, it becomes more of loungewear too because it’s pretty stylish as opposed to some of the other stuff. But we won’t complain, just happy to get what’s given to us. Nike, they’re the best in the business, so if we switch to all Nike there’s nothing wrong with that.

No word yet on when the Quakers will wear the red alternates, though. Continue reading

Green Bay Packers sign Greg Van Roten

Three-time All-Ivy offensive lineman and recent graduate Greg Van Roten has signed a free agent contract with the Green Bay Packers.

Van Roten will attend the Packers training camp, which runs from Thursday, July 26, to Tuesday, August 28, and includes preseason games against the San Diego Chargers, the Cleveland Browns, the Cincinnati Bengals and the Kansas City Chiefs.

Though Van Roten will face unprecedented challenges to his capabilities on the field, his performance as a Quaker, particularly in his junior and senior seasons, certainly helped him impress NFL scouts on Penn’s Pro Day back in March.

On the Pro Day, at which Van Roten’s teammates Luke Nawrocki, Erik Rask and Matt Hamscher also participated, Van Roten put up numbers that were on par with results reported from the NFL Regional Combine hosted at the New York Jets facility.

In the 40-yard dash, Van Roten ran a 5.06 seconds, compared to the average combine time of 5.11 seconds. His vertical jump reached 34.5 inches, two inches better than the combine average of 32.5.

As a result of his Pro Day performance and stellar junior and senior seasons as a Quaker, Van Roten was invited to play at three NFL mini-camps in May. The invites came from the Chargers, the Jets and the Packers, and he chose to attend the San Diego and New York camps, as the Packers camp was the same weekend as the New York camp.

In his senior season, even despite his switch from tackle to guard midway through the season, Van Roten anchored the fifth-best offense in program history (2,284 total yards of offense).

Van Roten was also an All-Ivy honoree on the 2010 squad that had the highest rushing and scoring offense in the Ivy League. That year, the Red and Blue also finished with the sixth-best rushing attack in the FCS and the second-best rushing season in program history.

Van Roten finished his Penn career with a 28-12 record overall and a 23-5 Ivy League mark. The Class of 2012 won two Ivy titles and were just the third team ever to string together back-to-back undefeated Ivy seasons.

Penn football earns 4 first-team All-Ivy picks

The Ivy League announced its football honors today, and four Quakers made first-team All-Ivy — two of which were unanimous selections.

Senior linebacker Erik Rask and offensive lineman Greg Van Roten were Penn's first unanimous selections to the All-Ivy team since Chris Mizell and Sean Estrada in 2006.

Wide receiver Ryan Calvert was named first-team after a breakout year with 58 receptions for 641 yards, becoming quarterback Billy Ragone's favorite target this season. He had 65 total yards on six catches in his career before this season.

Junior defensive lineman Brandon Copeland was a first-team pick for the second-consecutive year.

Other Quakers getting honors: senior defensive lineman Jared Sholley (2nd team), senior defensive back Matt Hamscher (2nd team), junior offensive lineman Joe Bonadies (honorable mention), junior running back Brandon Colavita (HM) and senior tight end Luke Nawrocki (HM).

The full Ivy honors list is after the jump. Continue reading

30 seconds with FB captain Greg Van Roten

If Senior football captain Greg Van Roten had a sandwich named after him, what would be on it?

Click here to find out in our video edition of '30 seconds with.'

Penn Football Media Day Notes

Picture 1Penn football hosted Media Day at Franklin Field on Monday, giving us our first look at the Quakers on their home turf since the fall. Here are some key notes in addition to our full notebook.

>> VIDEO: Interview with starting QB Billy Ragone

- Coach Al Bagnoli made an interesting point about the fact that the Quakers only have eight returning starters from last season's championship team. While that number is technically accurate when comparing this year's preseason depth chart to 2010's, many of the 2011 starters have significant starting experience. Bagnoli cited running back Brandon Colavita, defensive backs Matt Hamscher, Dave Twamley and Justyn Williams, and tight end Luke Nawrocki as examples. All broke into the starting lineup after last year's opener against Lafayette, but certainly proved themselves capable starters.

Continue reading

2011 Football captains chosen

After voting last week, the Penn football team released its captains for the 2011 season.

TE Luke Nawrocki, LB Erik Rask and OL Greg Van Roten will lead the Quakers in their attempt for a third-straight undefeated Ivy title. All three received All-Ivy Honorable Mention nods as sophomores, and last year Nawrocki was again named Honorable Mention while Rask and Van Roten were named First Team.

Van Roten was part of Penn's offensive line, which led the league in offense and was fourth in the nation in fewest sacks allowed. He will anchor a young O. line this season, as the remainder (Joe D'Orazio, Drew Luongo, Luis Ruffolo and Jared Mollenbeck) graduate in May.

Rask led the team with 65 tackles, and blocked a field goal in the title-clincher against Harvard.

Nawrocki was third on the team in 2010 in receptions and yards, behind graduating seniors Matt Tuten and David Wurst.

Here's what coach Bagnoli had to say about his team's choices:

I think they were really good choices, they’re three of the hardest working kids, three of our kids who are the first ones to practice, the last ones out, great role models, terrific players, good leadership skills, so first part we commend them on who they selected, they were overwhelming choices, so that was easy.  Second part they’re going to have to lead.  There’s a lot of young kids who’ve got to understand how hard you’ve got to practice, how hard you’ve got to prepare, how much time goes into film study, how much time goes into the weight room, and those kids will play a central role in making sure that we get those kids to understand that.

See the full story here.