Developing from Speedy Kid into Skilled Receiver, Senior Iosivas Emerges as Key Weapon for PU Football
HAWAIIAN PUNCH: Andrei Iosivas displays his form as a multi-event star for the Princeton University track team, left, and as a standout wide receiver for the Tiger football squad. Senior Iosivas, a 6’3, 200-pound native of Honolulu, Hawaii, is looking to get his final college campaign on the gridiron off to a good start as the Tigers play at Stetson on September 17 in their season opener. (Track photo provided courtesy of Princeton Athletics, football photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
Joining the Princeton University football team in 2018, wide receiver Andrei Iosivas soaked up lessons from such veteran stars as Jesper Horsted and Stephen Carlson.
“When I was a freshmen, those were the guys I looked up to a lot,” said Iosivas, a 6’3, 200-pound native of Honolulu, Hawaii.
Following in their footsteps, Iosivas has emerged as a go-to receiver for the Tigers. After playing on the junior varsity on 2018 as a freshman, Iosivas moved up to the varsity the next year and made 18 receptions for 263 yards and four touchdowns. Iosivas took a gap year when the 2020 season was canceled due to COVID concerns. Last fall, Iosivas produced a breakout season, making 41 catches for 703 yards and five touchdowns, earning second-team All-Ivy League honors as the Tigers went 9-1 overall and 6-1 Ivy, tying Dartmouth for the league title.
With Princeton opening its 2022 season by playing at Stetson on September 17, Iosivas has assumed a leadership role similar to what he experienced with Horsted and Carlson.
“Those guys have made me want to be who I am today,” said Iosivas, who is one of seven team captains for the Tigers this fall along with Carson Bobo, Henry Byrd, Dylan Classi, Matthew Jester, Uche Ndukwe, and Michael Ruttlen Jr.
“Now that I see me where they were, it is nice to see how some of the younger guys look at me and what I do. They ask me questions and it is nice to see that I am in that role. Me and Dylan are in that role; we always try to help out the younger guys.”
A key step in his development came when Iosivas spent much of his year away from Princeton concentrating on honing the fine points of playing wide receiver.
“I was always the tall, skinny fast kid; once I watched more films, I really tried to put it into drills, like cone drills and stuff like that,” said Iosivas, who also competes at track.
“When I took my gap year, I did a lot of individual work; I think that really upped my game. Sometimes going from football to track is hard for me. The gap year really helped me become the football player that I am now.”
Princeton head coach Bob Surace credits Iosivas with making the most of his time at home.
“For 99 percent of the guys, COVID stunk and it stunk for him too,” said Surace. “But for his game, it was actually something where he has a JUGS machine at home and was able to do some things during that time training-wise. All of the Zooms that our coaches were doing during that time really helped him. He transformed from a guy who was really athletic and hardworking to a guy whose routes were at a high level.”
Like his role model Horsted, an All-Ivy baseball player, Iosivas has made quite an impact in his other sport. Performing in multi-events for the Tigers, Iosvias was a 2022 NCAA All-American in the heptathlon at the NCAA Indoor Championships and is a three-time Ivy champion in the heptathlon (2019, 2020, 2022). He has also excelled in the decathlon for Princeton.
“I get faster and faster every year; I have been blessed to come to a place that has allowed me to do both,” said Iosivas. “They do complement each other, especially the event that I do. It is a lot of sprinting and powerful movements. Being more athletic never hurts. If I find time to do football things, I will. Usually during track, it is just track and during football, it is just football.”
As the Tiger football squad have gone through preseason camp this summer, the players have been putting in their time on the field.
“It is always just work; even after you win a championship or don’t get a championship, it is always next man up,” said Iosivas. “When you are coming back, you still have to fight for your starting spot. No one’s spot is solidified ever. If you are not working, you are not going to get it. That is how we come in every year, regardless of the outcome of the last year.”
That approach has helped Iosivas become a star on both the gridiron and the track.
“I just kept working, I saw what I wanted and I felt if I worked, I could attain it,” said Iosivas. “If I didn’t, then I could say I put all I had into football or any sport that I did and I would have to be OK with the outcome.”
Heading into the fall, that work has garnered Iosivas a lot of attention as he was tabbed for Hero Sports and Phil Steele Preseason
All-American honors and has been named to the
2023 Reese’s Senior Bowl
“I get a little excited when I see that kind of stuff but I ground myself back,” said Iosivas, who is hoping to have a shot at playing in the NFL. “If I don’t do what I have to do today, that stuff won’t come in the future. So I always try to keep grounded and stay in the present.”
As the Tigers head south to face Stetson (2-0) in the season opener this Saturday, they will need to stay in the present to build on last year’s success.
“We have a lot of good players,” said Iosivas. “Everyone has to do their job, big players have to make big plays.”
Based on how far Iosivas has come since arriving at Princeton, he figures to make a lot of big plays this fall.