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What Should Rutgers Football Fans Look for at Open Practice?

Rutgers Practice
Fans who are interested in getting a scouting report on the team, coach Flood doesn’t seem like the paranoid type.

“The install is still going on, so we’re just going to play football,” Flood said.

“I’m not going to get too concerned about that. I don’t know that structurally we’ve changed a lot from last year. We just need to do what we do and do it better. We’re going to play football the way we do. We’re not going to go out there to intentionally hide anything.”

So Rutgers fans, what should you be looking for??

1. Quarterback Play: There is still n intense battle going on between Hayden Rettig and Chris Laviano to earn the starting job.

Coach Flood has abstained from giving much insight into the competition, as training camp started with Laviano in the lead. Rettig has made big strides and looked sharper than he did in the spring. Will this be enough to close the gap?

“I said in the beginning 7-10 days,” Flood said of his timetable for making the final decision. “I’m going to try to stick to that if we can. Ultimately, I’ll make the final decision. And once I make it, it’s going to be final.”

Ultimately, the biggest stage for the quarterbacks before the final decision is made will be Monday’s scrimmage, but Friday’s first practice in full pads changed the dynamic despite the fact that passers can’t be hit.

“The quarterbacks aren’t live,” Flood said, “but I think it does because I think the pass rush is a little more ferocious. What’s going on in front of you is more active when you’re live and when you’re in full pads. I think that always helps them.

“Now the last part for them other than handling the situations will be moving the ball and playing drives. We really haven’t done that yet. We’ll get into that over the next couple of days.”

2. Intensity Level: The first week of camp ended with two of the more emotional practices in recent memory. Tempers flared after some exaggerated contact and then toned it down in full pads.

Rutgers limited two of its three offense-versus-defense periods of practice to thud (no tackling to the ground) so that transfer middle linebacker Kaiwan Lewis could participate. Lewis missed the first day of camp due to a paperwork issue and had to practice four times before he could put on full pads.

“We probably would have done a little more live work (Friday) if Kaiwan was in full pads, but I didn’t want him to miss another day of team periods,” Flood said. “Now everybody that we need will be out there in full pads when we want to. It gives us the flexibility to tackle, and you have to get a certain amount of tackling in in training camp if you think you’re going to do it well when you start the season.”

3. Who’s in, who’s out? You can be sure that the diehards will be taking attendance, especially since the latest official injury report released by Rutgers included limitations on star defensive tackle Darius Hamilton and halfbacks Robert Martin and Desmon Peoples.

Not to mention the months of speculation over cornerback Nadir Barnwell’s status.

It is Rutgers policy that all injury information must come from the head coach. Flood does not comment on injuries other than to release a weekly report.

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Big Ten Top 50 Football Players for 2015: No. 14, Leonte Carroo, Rutgers Receiver

Leonte Carroo, A first-year starter in 2014, has been ranked no. 14 on the Big Ten Top 50 list. He was named first-team All-Big Ten by nearly everyone – media, Phil Steele, ESPN.com – other than the league coaches, who picked Tony Lippett, Kenny Bell, Stefon Diggs and Devin Funchess as their first- and second-teamers. None of them are back.

So Carroo is on top.

He ranked second in the conference behind Lippett with 1,086 receiving yards, third behind Devin Smith and Lippett with 10 touchdowns and tied for seventh with 55 catches. He had six 100-yard receiving games, including five catches for exactly 100 yards against Ohio State.

The No. 5 player in New Jersey and the No. 206 prospect overall in the Class of 2012 according to the 247sports.com composite ratings, Carroo is exactly the kind of in-state player Rutgers must recruit to succeed.

A four-star recruit, he picked Rutgers over Cal, Penn State, Wisconsin and Boston College. He played at powerhouse Don Bosco Prep, which also sent former quarterback Gary Nova and star defensive lineman Darius Hamilton (No. 39 on this list) to Rutgers.

With another 1,000-yard season, Carroo will go down as the second-leading receiver in Rutgers history, behind only Kenny Britt. If he catches 76 passes, not unreasonable, he’ll reach the top five in Rutgers receptions. And the school record for receiving touchdowns will be his. He’s at 19 and record is 20.

But someone has to throw to Carroo.

Redshirt sophomore Chris Laviano has an edge on Hayden Rettig entering the preseason in the quarterback battle to replace Nova. Getting the ball to Carroo must be priority one for that winning QB.

Mel Kiper has Carroo as his No. 5 senior receiver draft prospect entering the season, and he has the size, hands and speed to make it in the NFL. First, he needs a quarterback to help him go down in the Rutgers record books.

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Scarlet Knights Football Ranks 12th Nationally in NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate (APR)

Rutgers Football
Rutgers ranked tied for 12th nationally with a multi-year Academic Progress Rate (APR) score of 980, according to figures released by the NCAA on Wednesday.

One year after ranking 10th nationally with an identical four-year APR rate of 980, Rutgers joined Big Ten members Wisconsin (998), Northwestern (992), Michigan (990) and Nebraska (985) as well as Duke (992), Stanford (987), Clemson (984), Vanderbilt (983) and Boston College (980) as the only Power 5 conference schools to score 980 or better.

Last Wednesday, the Rutgers football team was among the NCAA Division I programs applauded by the NCAA for posting an APR score in the top 10 percent of all teams nationally.

The Rutgers football program has earned that national recognition in eight consecutive years, which marks the longest continuous streak for any top-level state university in the country.

Every NCAA Division I institution calculates an APR for each athletics team each academic year. The APR provides a real-time look at a team’s academic success each semester or quarter by tracking the academic progress of each student-athlete. The APR includes eligibility, retention, and graduation in the calculation and provides a clear picture of the academic culture in each sport.

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NFL Draft 2015: Rutgers Football Stars Mock Draft

ray rice rutgers

Rutgers football had more players selected in the NFL Draft in 2013 than it did in the entire 1990s. Same thing goes for the 1970s. And it’s a tie with seven picks apiece in 2013 and the 1980s.

Since 2001, however, Rutgers has had 25 players drafted, with 21 of those coming from 2007-13.

Now, imagine if only those 25 players – and not some of the stars from decades past like Harry Swayne or Bill Pickel – made up the entire contents of one NFL Draft class. No other schools allowed.

Gannett New Jersey did just that and below is our Rutgers-only mock NFL Draft based on the following guidelines:

A) Players are drafted based on their college resumes, ignoring their later production in the NFL.

B) Allowance is made for current NFL Draft trends such as valuing quarterbacks, pass-rushers, wide receivers and defensive backs, and de-valuing running backs and linebackers.

C) This draft class is deep at some positions and shallow at others.

The first pick is on the clock…

1. RB Ray Rice (2008, Rd. 2, No. 55): After rewriting the Rutgers record book in just three years, Rice proved he wasn’t too small and didn’t have too many miles on his legs as a three-time Pro Bowler for the Baltimore Ravens. He remains a free agent looking for a second chance after legal trouble.

2. OT Anthony Davis (2010, Rd. 1, No. 11): The highest draft pick in school history allowed 6.5 quarterback sacks and eight pressures on 699 pass plays in his three-year college career. Davis made 64 straight starts at right tackle for the San Francisco 49ers to open his career.

3. WR Kenny Britt (2009, Rd. 1, No. 30): In just three seasons, Britt became the Big East’s all-time leader with 3,043 receiving yards. Sixth among active NFL receivers with a career 15.7 yards per catch, Britt looks revitalized with the St. Louis Rams after a messy split from the Tennessee Titans.

4. DB Devin McCourty (2010, Rd. 1, No. 27): Excellent cover skills and special teams value as a returner and a kick blocker helped McCourty shoot up draft boards as a redshirt senior. He is one of only three players in NFL history to be named All-Pro as a cornerback and a safety.

5. WR Mohamed Sanu (2012, Rd. 3, No. 83): Nothing got past Sanu in 2011, when he made a Big East-record 115 catches, many of which were in traffic over the middle. A unique athlete who can run and pass, Sanu took a big step toward being a No. 2 wide receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals last season.

6. QB Mike Teel (2009, Rd. 6, No. 178): The four-year starter shed the game-manager label and used a strong arm and even better mental makeup to sling the ball during a career-ending eight-game winning streak that quieted early-season boo birds. He never played in a NFL regular-season game.

7. LB Khaseem Greene (2013, Rd. 4, No. 117): The two-time Big East Defensive Player of the Year thrived in a defense where he could use his ex-safety skill set to chase down the ball and often strip it loose. Greene has gotten off to a slow start with the Chicago Bears as he was inactive for five games last year.

8. CB Logan Ryan (2013, Rd. 3, No. 83): A student of future New England Patriots teammates McCourty and Darrelle Revis, Ryan does not shy away in the run game but is at his best making plays on the ball by being physical with receivers. He has seven interceptions and 13 starts in his first 32 career games.

9. QB Mike McMahon (2001, Rd. 5, No. 149): Rutgers went 9-35 in McMahon’s four seasons but he still earned invites to two senior all-star games and the NFL Combine. He played 29 games for the Detroit Lions and Philadelphia Eagles before finishing his career in the United and Canadian football leagues.

10. OL Zeremy Zuttah (2008, Rd. 3, No. 83): The four-year starter between tackle and guard did not give up a sack in his final two seasons at Rutgers. He spent six years with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before reinventing himself as a 16-game starter at center for the Baltimore Ravens last season.

11. TE L.J. Smith (2003, Rd. 2, No. 61): The only true offensive playmaker on the first two teams of the Greg Schiano coaching era used his basketball body as a blocker and a pass-catcher. He played seven NFL seasons and caught a touchdown pass in Super Bowl XXXIX for the Philadelphia Eagles.

12. RB Brian Leonard (2007, Rd. 2, No. 52): The NFL doesn’t value fullbacks but, before he was Rice’s lead-blocker, Leonard was one of the most productive halfbacks in school history. His pass-catching ability allowed him to hang in the NFL as a hybrid back for eight seasons with four different teams.

13. CB Jason McCourty (2009, Rd. 6, No. 203): One of the best value picks ever to come out of Rutgers, McCourty didn’t have the chance to redshirt and blossom late like his twin brother. But he has started 63 of the last 64 games for the Tennessee Titans and is a borderline Pro Bowler.

14. CB Nate Jones (2003, Rd. 7, No. 205): The 2002 Co-Big East Special Teams Player of the Year was regarded as one of the top kick returners in the country but he played eight NFL seasons based on his ability as a sub package cornerback.

15. S Courtney Greene (2009, Rd. 7, No. 245): A tackling machine who made a then-school-record 51 consecutive starts at either strong or free safety for Rutgers, Greene played just three seasons for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

16. WR Tiquan Underwood (2009, Rd. 7, No. 253): Playing opposite Britt for most of his career, Underwood made big plays down the seam and had sure hands. He had back-to-back seasons with 24 or more catches and more than 400 yards for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2012 and 2013.

17. S Duron Harmon (2013, Rd. 3, No. 91): A stunning third-round pick on draft day, Harmon always was one of the smartest players on the field at Rutgers. His late-game end zone interception in the 2015 AFC Divisional Playoffs sealed a win on the road to a Super Bowl title for the New England Patriots.

18. LB Steve Beauharnais (2013, Rd. 7, No. 235): A mean streak runs through Beauharnais, who was stuffing the run and calling shots in the middle of the Rutgers defense as a true freshman. He played in three games last season for the Washington Redskins.

19. DE Raheem Orr (2004, Rd. 7, No. 210): The NFL places a premium on pass-rushers but Orr is the only one drafted from Rutgers in the 2000s. He led all Big East defensive linemen with 82 tackles, including 19.5 for loss and 8.5 for sacks, as a senior, but only played two career NFL games, both for the Giants.

20. CB Marcus Cooper (2013, Rd. 7, No. 252): Though he didn’t even start in Rutgers secondary as a senior and was waived by the San Francisco 49ers, Cooper had a brilliant rookie year for the Kansas City Chiefs before cooling off last season.

21. TE Clark Harris (2007, Rd. 7, No. 243): A three-time All-Big East performer and one of the best pass-catching tight ends in school history, Harris has spent eight years in the NFL thus far because of his ability to long snap.

22. TE D.C. Jefferson (2013, Rd. 7, No. 219): Just like Schiano once did when Jefferson was a prized quarterback recruit, the NFL fell for Jefferson’s physical tools, but the 6-foot-6 tight end lasted just one season with the Arizona Cardinals.

23. RB Jawan Jamison (2013, Rd. 7, No. 228): Forced to forego his final two years of eligibility for family reasons, the 1,000-yard rusher spent time with the Washington Redskins and Pittsburgh Steelers but never played in a game.

24. RB Ryan D’Imperio (2010, Rd. 7, No. 237): A four-year starter at middle linebacker, D’Imperio converted to fullback and made two catches in 12 games for the 2011 Minnesota Vikings. He retired from the Giants practice squad in 2013.

25. OL Cameron Stephenson (2007, Rd. 5, No. 156): Not until his senior year did Stephenson make the permanent move to offensive line. He was seen as a possible sleeper but never played in a NFL game while spending time on five different rosters.

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Analysis of Trey Sneed, Rutgers Football Commit

Trey_Sneed

Rutgers was able to further improve one of their strongest position groups when Fleming Island (Orange Park, Fla.) running back Trey Sneed committed in April. But let’s take a look at his strengths and weaknesses and find out what his addition means to the Scarlet Knights.

Projected collegiate position: Running back

Standing 5-10, 195 pounds, Sneed displays adequate size for the running back position at this point in his development. He is squatty enough to hide behind offensive linemen, yet thick enough to keep his feet on contact. He already displays adequate bulk that will only improve as he physically develops and entrenches himself in a collegiate strength and conditioning program.

And although he played wildcat quarterback the majority of the 2014 season, it’s his vision, foot quickness, and ability to finish off the run that make him special.

Strengths

Sneed, a three-star recruit according to the 247Sports composite, sees the game very well and plays with good lateral quickness and anticipation. He has that jump cut, stop and start ability that is fun for fans to watch and a nightmare for defenders to prepare for.

He also excels at setting up his blocks, hiding behind bigger offensive linemen, then popping out on the other side, where he’s off to the races. His ability to get on top of the second level in a flash forces defenders to react quickly and, at times, guess wrong.

Sneed is a skilled inside runner, who doesn’t appear to gear down much in and out of his cuts. His seamless ability to stick his foot in the ground and change direction, makes him a threat each and every down.

In addition to being able to make defenders miss, he also flashes the knack to put his head down and pick up a first down as he gets good forward lean and plays behind his pads. He also shows the leg-drive and lower body strength to run through flailing arm tackles.

Areas for improvement

Sneed is really quick, instinctive and can run well, but doesn’t appear to have the top-end speed to consistently break off long touchdown scores along the perimeter. He must work on his ability to turn the corner when bouncing runs to the outside, which will allow for bigger runs against the interior size and outside speed of his collegiate counterparts.

He must also continue to add functional mass to his frame for the rigors of Big Ten football, as he can get bounced around a bit.

And missing in his junior film, due to the position he played, were examples of his hands out the backfield, which could play a role in his success as a Scarlet Knight.

Synopsis

Sneed will likely redshirt due to Rutgers’ depth at running back, but he’s unique enough that he could provide a change-of-pace in a limited role, once he arrives. He runs with good balance, pad level and is tough to lay a clean hit on due to his shiftiness, short area explosion and ability in the open-field.

The health of his position group could also play a part in the decision to play him right away or not. Physically, he appears ready to go, but the staff will have to weigh the pros and cons of having him burn his redshirt against the contribution they expect he’ll make.

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Scarlet Knights Play 2nd Intra-Squad Scrimmage of Spring Camp

Rutgers Scrimmage

Rutgers’ 2nd intrasquad scrimmage is in the books, and it was the defense that stole the show.

Kemoko Turay registered three sacks and the defense kept the offense out of the end zone for the first eight series as the Rutgers coaching staff divided the repetitions between quarterbacks Chris Laviano, Hayden Rettig and Giovanni Rescigno.

Laviano drew the opening first-team drive, but split the repetitions with Rettig for most of the scrimmage under sunny 73-degree conditions at High Point Solutions Stadium.

Scrimmage Stats

Passing: Chris Laviano (16-23-0-169); Hayden Rettig (10-18-0-133); Giovanni Rescigno (2-4-0-16);

Rushing: Robert Martin (11-41); Josh Hicks (11-74); Justin Goodwin (8-31); Giovanni Rescigno (1-12); Sam Bergen (1-0);

Receiving: John Tsimis (7-82); Carlton Agudosi (7-96); Charles Scarff (4-56); Vance Matthews (3-30); Robert Martin (1-9), Ruhann Peele (2-16); Nick Arcidiacono (1-7); Andre Patton (2-12); Matt Flanagan (1-10);

TDs: John Tsimis (5-yard pass from Rettig); Charles Scarff (4-yard pass from Laviano); Ruhann Peele (7-yard pass from Rettig); Darnell Davis (fumble recovery in end zone off Isaiah Johnson forced fumble); Vance Matthews (17-yard pass from Rettig); Robert Martin (2-run);

Notable: Kemoko Turay recorded 3 sacks … Kiy Hester recorded 1 sack … Eric Wiafe recorded 1 sack … Kyle Federico made field goals from 31-, 20-, and 27-yards, but missed from 52, 43, 49, 27 and 47 in addition to missing a PAT.

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National DE Recruit Khalid Kareem ‘Pleasantly Surprised’ by Rutgers Trip

Khalid_Kareem
Two weeks ago, junior Khalid Kareem and his family planned an Ivy League trip to Harvard and Yale, and figured they stop by Rutgers while in the area.

However, their conversations with Rutgers director of recruiting E.J. Barthel leading up to their visit, made Rutgers more of a sight to see than an afterthought.

By the time the Kareems left campus Wednesday, Rutgers — which extended an offer during the visit — had become a legitimate contender for the 6-4, 250-pound defensive end from Harrison (Farmington, Mich.), holding upwards of 40 offers.

“We actually didn’t know what to expect from Rutgers because they were new to the Big Ten and we didn’t even know what they were gonna do in the Big Ten. So we didn’t know what to expect going in,” said Ken Kareem, father of Khalid. “We were impressed with the academic side. We had looked at their roster a little bit, just to see who they had, who were seniors, who’s coming back, who’s leaving, that kind of thing. You know, who were the freshmen, what ends did they have.

“They only had one guy who was a true defensive end on their roster, so you know, that was kind of intriguing to us. So we just decided let’s go over and take a look and see what they got. And when we got over there, we were pleasantly surprised about the staff, the historic nature of the program, the facilities, the fact that they’re going through renovations coming up here soon, their raising some money to make the facilities even more attractive to recruits. There were a number of things that had us really, like I said, pleasantly surprised about our trip to Rutgers. I’d say they are a real contender, now.”

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Nick Arcidiacono: Not Your Average TE for Rutgers Football

Nick Arcidiacono
Nick Arcidiacono isn’t set on being the next Rutgers starting tight end. At least not as the position usually is defined.

Don’t get him wrong. Arcidiacono wants a starting role and understands he is the logical choice to succeed NFL-bound tight end Tyler Kroft after spending last season as the primary backup.

But the rising junior could wind up in something more like a hybrid position because of his experience.

“I think where it helps him is our ability to use him in some different spots,” Rutgers coach Kyle Flood said.

“He is a guy who lines up on the line, he lines up flexed out, he can line up in the backfield. It’s hard to be a versatile player before you’ve got a little experience and some knowledge of the game, so I think he’ll give us the opportunity to be very flexible with him as we move forward.”

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LB L.J. Liston Dismissed from Rutgers Football Program

A one-time favorite in the race to be the next Rutgers starting middle linebacker, L.J. Liston won’t even be part of the competition when it begins in spring camp. Liston was dismissed from the program Friday as announced by head coach Kyle Flood.

“L.J. is no longer a member of the Rutgers football program,” Flood said in a statement. “He’s currently exploring other options for his career as a student-athlete. We wish him well.”

The rising junior, who came out of Flint, Mich. by way of prep school, made 31 tackles in 22 games over his first two seasons at Rutgers but made it known during bowl prep that he had his eye on replacing the departed Kevin Snyder in the starting lineup.

“At this point in my life, I’m very focused on what I have to do,” Liston said. ” A lot of things have changed in my life.”

That did not stop Rutgers from adding immediately eligible one-year graduate transfer Kaiwan Lewis from South Carolina and junior college transfer Isaiah Johnson, both of whom are middle linebackers.

Liston’s sophomore season started with missing two training camp practices because he could not pass the preseason conditioning test and included a one-game suspension for failing to meet study hall requirements. He made his first career start against Tulane and a homecoming in the Quick Lane Bowl.

Liston left school on Saturday because he is expecting to become a father but he hopes to finish the spring semester at Rutgers before transferring closer to home, according to a NJ Advance Media report.

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Former Rutgers fullback Michael Burton…Thug.

Former Rutgers fullback Michael Burton was on the field for the NFL Scouting Combine last weekend, so he obviously couldn’t hear NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock’s commentary. But it didn’t take long for Burton to learn that Mayock called him a thug “in a good way.”

Mayock made the comment after Burton ran his first 40-yard dash in 4.8 seconds. Mayock said Burton’s speed is not a concern because the fullback’s blocking abilities are his main asset. Mayock also praised Burton’s skills as a receiver.

Burton, who clocked in at 4.74 seconds in his second 40-yard dash, enjoyed the unusual compliment from Mayock.

“That was cool,” Burton said. “He’s definitely a guy who does a great job in what he does, not only being an NFL analyst, but just his football IQ. I know he calls Notre Dame games, he calls college football games, so he has a very high IQ of football. So hearing a guy talk highly of you like that was definitely good. I’m just going to continue to keep working and hopefully just continue that.”

After his on-field tests, Burton was supposed to fly home from Indianapolis. His flight got canceled, so he went out to dinner with his trainers from Parabolic Performance & Rehabilitation.

And would you believe it, Burton’s group just happened to go to the same restaurant as Mayock.

“I was able to introduce myself and talk to him for a little bit, which was an awesome experience,” said Burton, who is preparing for Rutgers’ pro day next Wednesday. “So I’m actually kind of glad my flight was canceled because I really enjoyed talking to him and meeting him. That was definitely an awesome experience.”