Ivy League Championships
Steven Downs enters his 16th season as the Quakers’ running backs coach in 2014. Since he joined the staff in 1999, at least one Penn running back has received All-Ivy honors in each of his 15 seasons. That list includes five first-team distinctions and two former NFL players.
In all, Penn has had an All-Ivy running back for each of the past 20 years. Last year, Kyle Wilcox continued that tradition with honorable mention honors, while Lyle Marsh earned second-team accolades in 2012 and Brandon Colavita took home honorable mention status in 2011.
A year prior, Marsh was lost for all of 2010 with an injury in the second game of the year. Downs had several underclassmen ready to fill the spot and the Quakers finished the year with the sixth-best rushing offense in the nation. Penn also led the Ivy League in scoring behind 28 rushing touchdowns—one off the school record set in 1972. Colavita earned All-Ivy recognition as a sophomore as he finished second in the league in scoring with 12 touchdowns and fourth in the league in rushing with 728 yards. His 5.8 yards per carry marked the second-best single-season performance in school history. Meanwhile, sophomore Jeff Jack started 10 games and ran for 466 yards, and two-time All-Ivy fullback Luke DeLuca was named an All-American by Phil Steele.
In 2009, when returning All-Ivy running back Michael DiMaggio was hampered by injury, Downs' freshman protege Lyle Marsh stepped up to the challenge. Marsh averaged 4.7 yards per carry—tied for the sixth-best season in program history—and earned second-team All-Ivy recognition. Meanwhile, fullback Luke DeLuca was also named to the all-league second team as he led the team with five touchdowns and finished seventh in the Ancient Eight in scoring.
Downs’ running backs also had a productive 2008 season, scoring more than half of the touchdowns the Penn offense tallied. One of Downs’ primary running backs, Michael DiMaggio carried on the All-Ivy tradition as he earned second team honors, while ranking third in the Ivy League in rushing.
Under Downs in 2007, running back Joe Sandberg returned to the All-Ivy first team after finishing second in the Ivy League in rushing. In 2006, Sandberg became the 11th player in Penn history to rush for over 1,000 yards in a season. The 2005 season featured the dual-threat combo of two-time All-Ivy selection Sam Mathews and Sandberg ran past Ancient Eight defenses. Mathews graduated from Penn as its fourth-leading rusher all-time with 2,505 yards.
Prior to his current stint in West Philadelphia, Downs joined former Penn assistant Ed Foley as a member of the Jacksonville coaching staff in 1995. In addition to his duties as running backs coach, Downs also supervised the student-athlete education enhancement program and ran the film exchange. Downs came to Penn for his first season as an offensive assistant and took over running backs in 2000.
Downs was a three-year starter at Central State University and was a member of its 1995 NAIA Division I National Championship team. He played cornerback, free safety, both linebacker positions and also saw time on the special teams unit. In 1997, Downs had a tryout as a strong safety for the Philadelphia Eagles.
Downs and his wife, Dusty, reside in Berlin, N.J., with their daughter, Kyla, and son, Steven Michael, Jr.
THE DOWNS FILE
First Year at Penn 1999