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RFootball Spring Notebook
  • Posted on March 27, 2014 3:30:45 PM
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  • The Rutgers football team returns to the practice field for the start of spring drills Tuesday, March 25 in Piscataway. The Scarlet Knights will hold a total of 15 spring practice dates with the culmination of spring practice set for Saturday, April 26 with the annual Scarlet-White game at High Point Solutions Stadium. Rutgers will practice on the following dates this spring:

    March: 25, 27, 29
    April: 1, 3, 5, 8, 11, 12, 15, 17, 19, 22, 24, 26

    Rutgers is set to join the Big Ten on July 1, 2014. The move to the Big Ten presents the Scarlet Knights with the most anticipated football season in school history in 2014 as RU hosts Penn State, Michigan, Wisconsin and Indiana at High Point Solutions Stadium this fall.

    The Big Ten Conference is an association of world-class universities whose member institutions share a common mission of research, graduate, professional and undergraduate teaching and public service. Founded in 1896, the Big Ten has sustained a comprehensive set of shared practices and policies that enforce the priority of academics in student-athletes’ lives and emphasize the values of integrity, fairness and competitiveness. 

    ATLANTIC-10 CONFERENCE: (1976-1995) All sports except football
    BIG EAST: (1991-1995) Football-only member
    BIG EAST: (1995-2012)

    Rutgers returns 44 letterwinners and 16 starters for its first season in the Big Ten this fall. The Scarlet Knights welcome the return of nine starters on offense, including the entire offensive line, along with seven starters on defense and the team’s starting place-kicker.

    Rushing 2013 Total Total Returning % Returning
    Yards 1684 1652 98%
    TDs 17 17 100%
    Attempts 455 423 93%





    Passing 2013 Total Total Returning % Returning
    Yards 3063 2159 70%
    TDs 22 18 82%
    Completions 240 165 69%





    Receiving 2013 Total Total Returning % Returning
    Catches 240 172 72%
    TDs 22 18 82%
    Yards 3063 1992 65%





    Defense 2013 Total Total Returning % Returning
    Tackles 975 756 78%
    TFL 82 66 80%
    Sacks 32 23 72%
    INT 8 5 63%
    FF 13 10 77%






    Returns 2013 Total Total Returning % Returning
    KR Yards 1057 546 52%
    PR Yards 216 195 90%




    A total of 87 student-athletes are on the 2014 spring roster, including 55 players with at least three years of eligibility remaining. Here is the breakdown of players by eligibility:

    True freshmen: 6
    Redshirt freshmen: 19
    Sophomores: 30
    Juniors: 16
    Seniors: 16

    The Scarlet Knights return five players who earned All-America or all-conference honors a season ago. Leading the way is junior tight end Tyler Kroft, who garnered SI.com All-America honors (Honorable Mention) in 2013. Kroft ended the season with 43 receptions for 573 yards and four touchdowns. He is one of two players from a power conference who returns in 2014 with at least 500 yards receiving from a year ago.

    Rising sophomore middle linebacker Steve Longa returns after a strong rookie campaign “On the Banks.” The New Jersey native led the team with 123 tackles en route to Freshmen All-America honors by The Sporting News and Athlon Sports. He was the first RU middle linebacker since Gary Brackett in 2002 to record over 100 tackles in a season.

    Returning from 2013:
    Steve Longa – Sporting News Freshman All-America
    Athlon Sports Second Team Freshman All-America
    Tyler Kroft – SI.com Honorable Mention All-America

    2013 All-conference honorees:
    Tyler Kroft (TE) First Team
    Paul James (RB) First Team
    Betim Bujari (C) Second Team
    Janarion Grant (RS) Second Team

    Offensive Line Starters Returning
    Rutgers returns five starters on its offensive line in 2014. The five – LT Keith Lumpkin, LG Kaleb Johnson, C Betim Bujari, RG Chris Muller and RT Taj Alexander – combined for 99 starters over their careers. The five linemen have combined to play in 123 games.

    Senior Kaleb Johnson has the most game experience, appearing in 37 consecutive games since his true freshman year. He has started all 37 career games he has played in.

    Junior Tejay Johnson moves from safety to wide receiver this spring for the Scarlet Knights. Johnson has played in 25 games with three starts over the last two years at cornerback and safety. In 2013, Johnson finished the year with 35 tackles and three pass breakups.

    Rutgers has six true freshmen on its roster this spring as early enrollees: OL Marcus Applefield (Weeki Wachee, Fla.), TE Logan Lister (Katy, Texas), DB Kam Lott (Jacksonville, Fla.), WR Ntwademela Perry (Durban Westville, South Africa) (LB Brandon Russell (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) and DL Eric Wiafe (Egg Harbor Township, N.J.).

    Last year, five players were mid-year enrollees for the Scarlet Knights. DB Nadir Barnwell, LB Lester Liston and DB Delon Stephenson were the three mid-year enrollees from a year ago who earned playing time in 2013.

    Rutgers head football coach Kyle Flood announced the hiring of Ralph Friedgen as offensive coordinator and Bob Fraser as special teams coordinator/linebackers coach, along with the promotion of Joe Rossi to defensive coordinator this off-season. In addition, former Tampa Bay Buccaneers assistant Ben McDaniels was named wide receivers coach and veteran Big Ten recruiter Mitch Browning was hired as the offensive line coach.

    One of the nation’s most highly acclaimed offensive coaches, Friedgen has coordinated the offense for both a collegiate national champion (Georgia Tech in 1990) and a Super Bowl team (San Diego in 1994). He is known as an offensive tactician who utilizes multiple looks and features a balanced offense both through the air and on the ground.

    Prior to joining Flood’s staff at Rutgers, the Harrison, N.Y., native spent 10 years (2001-10) as head coach at the University of Maryland.

    Friedgen directed the Terps to unprecedented heights in his tenure, taking the program to seven bowl games, including a pair of New Year’s Day appearances, and a school record five bowl victories. Prior to Friedgen’s arrival, Maryland had just one bowl game appearance in the previous 15 seasons.

    The consensus national coach of the year in 2001, when he led Maryland to its first ACC title in 16 years, Friedgen ranks third in ACC history with five bowl wins and is one of eight coaches with seven or more bowl game appearances.

    Rossi directed one of the nation’s top special teams units over his first two seasons “On the Banks.” In 2013, Rutgers scored four special teams touchdowns, including two kickoff returns and a punt return touchdown. True freshman Janarion Grant earned All-AAC Second Team honors as a return specialist.

    Rossi served as interim defensive coordinator in the 2013 New Era Pinstripe Bowl against No. 25 Notre Dame.

    In all, the Scarlet Knights blocked four kicks in 2013, which tied for 10th nationally. In Rossi’s first year as special teams coordinator in 2012, RU blocked eight kicks, which ranked first in the nation.

    Fraser is set to begin his third tenure at Rutgers. He was on the coaching staff from 2006-11 in various capacities, including defensive coordinator in 2011. Fraser began his coaching career at Rutgers as a graduate assistant in 1987.

    Fraser was the assistant defensive coordinator the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2013. For the first time since 2005, the Buccaneers placed two players on the Associated Press All-Pro First Team in defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and outside linebacker Lavonte David.

    During his time at Rutgers, Fraser was instrumental in helping orchestrate some of the best defenses in school history. In 2011 as defensive coordinator, Rutgers ranked first in the Big East in four defensive categories: total defense, scoring defense, pass defense and pass efficiency defense. The defense also ranked in the top 20 nationally in total defense (14th), scoring defense (8th), pass defense (9th), pass efficiency defense (5th), sacks (15th) and tackles for loss (8th). In addition, linebacker Khaseem Greene was named an All-American and the first Big East Defensive Player of the Year in school history.

    During his time with the Buccaneers, McDaniels served as an offensive assistant for the previous two seasons. In 2013, he assisted with the development of rookie quarterback Mike Glennon. Glennon finished with the top passer rating (82.0) among rookies last year and was named to the Pro Football Writers of America All-Rookie team. Glennon set rookie franchise marks for passing yards and touchdowns.

    Browning has 34 years of coaching experience overall, including stops at six BCS programs and appearances in 11 bowl games (seven in 10 years at Minnesota).

    Browning was a finalist for the Frank Broyles Award in 2003, which is presented annually to the nation’s top assistant coach. In 2003, Browning was co-offensive coordinator at Minnesota as the Golden Gophers set a school and Big Ten record of 6,430 yards of total offense. Minnesota finished the 2003 campaign with 3,789 yards rushing (fourth-best total at the time in Big Ten history) and scored 503 points (sixth-best total at the time in Big Ten history).

    In 2005, Minnesota became first team in Big Ten history to post three consecutive 3,000-yard rushing seasons and the first team in NCAA history to have two 1,000-yard rushers in three consecutive seasons. The Golden Gophers led the Big Ten in rushing offense, total offense and scoring offense, placing second nationally in rushing offense and fifth in total offense. 

    • Rutgers is the only school in the nation to post a shutout in each of the last eight seasons.
    • Rutgers is 47-5 since 2000 when holding opponents to less than 300 yards of total offense. 
    • The Scarlet Knights are 36-9 since 2006 when rushing for 150 yards or more in a game.
    • Since 2000, the Scarlet Knights are 48-18 when going over the 150-yard mark on the ground.
    • Since 2000, Rutgers is 47-14 when holding the opponent below 100 yards rushing in a game.
    • Since 2000, Rutgers is 23-3 when limiting the opponent to less than 50 yards rushing in a game.
    • Nine true freshmen earned playing time in 2013, with cornerback Nadir Barnwell becoming the first to make a start versus Arkansas. A total of three true freshmen started at cornerback in 2013 for Rutgers (Barnwell, Anthony Cioffi, Delon Stephenson).
    • Rutgers was the only school in the nation to have two true freshmen cornerbacks start in the same game in 2013.
    • Seventeen different players have made their first career start in 2013, with three starting all 13 games (Longa, Lumpkin, Mera).
    • Eight of the top 16 crowds in stadium history have happened since the beginning of the 2012 season.

    One staple of the Rutgers defense over the last decade has been its ability to stop the run. The Scarlet Knights finished fourth nationally in rushing defense allowing 100.8 yards per game last season.

    NCAA Rushing Defense Leaders
    School: Yards Per Game
    1. Louisville: 80.7
    2. Michigan State: 86.6
    3. Stanford: 89.7
    4. Rutgers: 100.8
    5. Wisconsin: 102.5

    In 2012, Rutgers ranked sixth nationally in rushing defense (97.2 yards per game). The Scarlet Knights have also finished in the top 20 in rushing defense in 2009 (15th, 103.2 yards per game) and in 2006 (17th, 101.0 yards per game).

    Kyle Flood is the first coach in 144 years of football at Rutgers to guide the Scarlet Knights to two consecutive bowls in his first two years as head coach. Flood and Greg Schiano are the only coaches in RU history to guide the Scarlet Knights to multiple bowl appearances.

    Head coach Kyle Flood recorded 15 victories in his first two seasons as head coach at Rutgers. The 15 wins rank Flood second in school history for wins by a head coach in his first two seasons.

    Flood’s nine victories in 2012 were the most by a first-year head coach in school history. He is the only coach in RU history to lead a team to a bowl and conference championship in their first season.

    Most Wins in First Two Years at Rutgers
    John F. Bateman (1960-61): 17
    Kyle Flood (2012-13): 15
    Harvey J. Harmon (1938-39): 14

    Rising junior WR Leonte Carroo did something that no other player has done in 144 years of Rutgers football - catch three touchdown passes in his first career game at wide receiver last season at Fresno State. Carroo played in all 13 games in 2012, but was used on special teams.

    Carroo caught five passes for 135 yards and three scores against Fresno State in the 2013 opener. The three touchdown passes are tied for third in RU single-game history and he is just the fourth player in school history to catch at least three receiving touchdowns in a game.

    Carroo tied for third in RU single-season history with nine receiving touchdowns in 2013. He missed the final three games of the season due to injury.      

    RU Single-Season Receiving Touchdown Leaders
    Player (Year): Touchdowns
    1. Brandon Coleman (2012): 10
    1. Marco Battaglia (1995): 10
    3. Leonte Carroo (2013): 9
    3. Mark Harrison (2010): 9
    3. Tim Brown (2009): 9
    3. Bob Simms (1958): 9
    7. Kenny Britt (2007): 8
    7. Reggie Funderburk (1994): 8

    Rising junior running back Paul James led the American Athletic Conference in 2013 with 88.1 rushing yards per game. James missed four games with a lower leg injury suffered September 21 in the Arkansas win. He returned to the starting lineup November 16 against Cincinnati. James led Rutgers with 19 carries for 78 yards (4.1 yards per carry) against the Bearcats.

    The first-year starter averaged 5.7 yards per carry and was just one of 10 players in the country with four runs of 50 yards or longer last season. James also finished second in the conference with nine rushing touchdowns in 2013.

    Paul James is averaging 5.6 yards per carry in his career; the second-best yards per carry average of any player in school history with at least 100 rushing attempts.

    RU Career Yards Per Attempt Leaders
    Player   Att.-Yards-Yards Per Attempt
    1. Steve Simms (1959-61): 205-1,240-6.0
    2. Paul James (2012-present): 161-903-5.6
    3. Ray Rice (2005-07): 910-4,926-5.4
    4. Terrell Willis (1993-95): 588-3,114-5.3
    5. Bruce Presley (1992-95): 552-2,792-5.1


    • Paul James found the end zone three times in the Eastern Michigan victory, giving him six touchdowns in two games. Rutgers had six rushing touchdowns for the 2012 season. 

    • James was the first Scarlet Knight since Ray Rice in 2007 to score at least three touchdowns in two consecutive games. Rice had three touchdowns against Louisville and four touchdowns in final collegiate game against Ball State.

    • James was the first player to have four rushes of at least 50 yards in a season in the 2000s. The last RU player with at least two rushes of 50 yards or more was Rice in 2006 with two.

    • James’ four rushes of 50 yards or more are more than the previous three seasons combined. RU had one rushing play of 50 yards or longer in 2012, 2011 and 2010.

    • Since 2000, Rutgers has had multiple 50-yard runs in a season four times: 2013 (4), 2009 (2), 2006 (2) and 2005 (2).

    • James ran for the most yards by a player coming off the bench in school history with his 182-yard performance at Fresno State in the 2013 opener.

    • James finished with 22 rushing attempts for 182 yards against the Bulldogs. It was the fourth-highest single-game rushing total by a player in school history in the opening game of the season.

    • James was the fourth player in Rutgers history to post multiple games of 180 yards or more in the same season. He joins Ray Rice (2007, 2006), Terrell Willis (1993) and “JJ” Jennings (1973) in the record books.

    Gary Nova started the 2013 season with 348 yards passing and five touchdown passes at Fresno State (August 29). He set a school record for passing yardage and touchdown passes in a season-opener with his performance against the Bulldogs.

    The 348 yards passing rank No. 14 in Rutgers’ single-game history and Nova became only the second player in school history to have at least two five-touchdown games. Only Mike Teel (seven vs. Louisville, six vs. Pittsburgh) in 2008 has also had two games of at least five touchdown passes. Nova also threw five TD passes in the win at Arkansas in 2012.

    Nova ranks fifth in school history with 6,407 career passing yards and 502 completions and third with 51 touchdowns. He is the fifth quarterback in RU history to reach the 6,000-yard passing plateau.

    Rutgers Career Touchdown Pass Leaders
    Player: Touchdown Passes
    1. Mike Teel (2005-08): 59
    2. Ryan Hart (2002-05): 52
    3. Gary Nova (2011-present): 51 
    4. Ray Lucas (1992-95): 43
    5. Mike McMahon (1997-00): 41
    Scott Erney (1986-89): 41

    Rutgers Career Passing Yards Leaders
    Player: Yards
    1. Mike Teel (2005-08): 9,383
    2. Ryan Hart (2002-05): 8,482
    3. Scott Erney (1986-89): 7,188
    4. Mike McMahon (1997-00): 6,608
    5. Gary Nova (2011-present): 6,407
    6. Ray Lucas (1992-95): 5,896
    7. Chas Dodd (2010-2013): 3,923

    Rutgers Career Completions Leaders
    Player: Completions
    1. Ryan Hart (2002-05): 735
    2. Mike Teel (2005-08): 661
    3. Scott Erney (1986-89): 614
    4. Ray Lucas (1992-95): 514
    5. Gary Nova (2011-present): 502
    6. Mike McMahon (1997-2000): 482
    7. Eric Hochberg (1982-85): 337
    8. Chas Dodd (2010-2013): 326

    Rutgers Single-Season Touchdown Pass Leaders
    Player: Touchdown Passes
    1. Mike Teel (2008): 25
    2. Gary Nova (2012): 22
    3. Mike Teel (2007): 20
    4. Ryan Hart (2005): 18
    4. Mike McMahon (2000): 18
    4. Gary Nova (2013): 18

    Redshirt freshman Steve Longa led all freshmen nationally with 9.5 tackles per game in 2013. The New Jersey product had three games with 12-plus tackles in 2013.

    In all, Longa has 123 tackles on the year, first among all freshmen nationally. Longa ranked 28th nationally in tackles per game.

    100 Tackles from the Man in the Middle
    Steve Longa had a team-best 123 tackles in 2013. It marked the fourth straight season a Rutgers player has totaled over 100 tackles in a season and the most by a middle linebacker since Gary Brackett finished with 130 stops in 2002.

    Longa was the first Rutgers freshman to record 100 tackles in a season since defensive back Courtney Greene in 2005. Greene totaled a team-high 116 stops in 2005.

    The Big Ten will have 12 bowls as part of its lineup in 2014. The 12-game bowl affiliation is the largest in conference history.

    Rose Bowl Game (Pasadena, Fla.)
    Orange Bowl (Miami, Fla.)
    Capital One Bowl (Orlando, Fla.)
    TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl (Jacksonville, Fla.)
    Holiday Bowl (San Diego, Calif.)
    Outback Bowl (Tampa, Fla.)
    New Era Pinstripe Bowl (Bronx, N.Y.)
    Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl (Fort Worth, Texas)
    Heart of Dallas Bowl presented by PlainsCapital Bank (Dallas, Texas)
    Fight Hunger Bowl (Santa Clara, Calif.)
    Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl (Nashville, Tenn.)
    *New bowl game in Detroit (Detroit, Mich.)

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