PROVIDENCE, R.I. (Dec. 11, 2013) – Four members of the Rutgers football team earned All-American Athletic Conference honors in an announcement by the league office Wednesday. Running back Paul James (Glassboro, N.J.) and tight end Tyler Kroft (Downingtown, Pa.) each earned first-team status, while center Betim Bujari (Secaucus, N.J.) and kick returner Janarion Grant (Trilby, Fla.) made the second team.
It is the first career all-conference honor for each.
James is the first Rutgers running back to earn first team all-conference since Ray Rice in 2007. The sophomore broke through with 833 yards rushing in eight games this season, scoring nine touchdowns. He totaled four games with at least 100 yards on the ground and led the nation in yardage through the first three weeks before suffering an injury. Collecting three multiple-touchdown games, his average of 5.7 yards per carry ranks him second in school history for a player with at least 100 attempts.
Kroft was the only Scarlet Knight to record a reception in all 12 regular season games. The sophomore leads the team with 40 catches on the season to go with 530 yards, scoring four times. He registered career-highs with 133 yards and six receptions in the win over Arkansas to earn John Mackey National Tight End of the Week. Kroft is the first Rutgers tight end to earn first team all-conference since Clark Harris in 2006.
Bujari, a preseason candidate for the Rimington Trophy, picked up second team after playing in eight games this season. The team averaged 146.8 yards per game rushing in contests he played in. A mobile player, the junior was responsible for the clearing block downfield to help the Scarlet Knights score a 50-yard touchdown on a screen pass at SMU.
Grant burst on the scene by taking a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown on his first collegiate touch at Fresno State. He also ran back a punt 58 yards to the end zone against Arkansas to spark the comeback, also bringing one back to the opponent 33-yard line to setup the go-ahead score. He led the conference in the regular season with an average of 9.2 yards per punt return. Grant is the first Rutgers true freshman to earn all-conference in Tosh Riddick in 1998.
Rutgers finishes the 2013 season with its eighth bowl appearance in the last nine years at the New Era Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium. Kickoff between Rutgers and Notre Dame is set for Saturday, December 28 at noon.
Rutgers fans are strongly encouraged to purchase tickets through Rutgers for the best seating options available for the game. Tickets for the New Era Pinstripe Bowl are available online (http://RutgersBowl.com), by phone (1-866-445-GORU) and in-person at the Rutgers Ticket Office during normal business hours (Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.).
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