PISCATAWAY, NJ - Coming off an outstanding season that included a berth in the Insight Bowl and an upper tier finish in the BIG EAST Conference standings, Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano and the Scarlet Knights’ football team eagerly await the start of Spring Practice 2006.
“People are going to say ‘what can you do next.’ Well, ‘what we can do next’ is practice well this spring in spring practice … that’s what we can do next,” Schiano said pointedly at his annual spring press conference. “We can (then) have a great summer of training, and (then) get ready for our opening game after training camp.
“We’ll take it step by step,” he added. “I think we have the maturity, even though we’re a young team.”
Schiano will welcome 44 returning letterwinners to the first practice session this Saturday. While the Scarlet Knights return some key starters, including All-America fullback Brian Leonard and All-BIG EAST performers like tight end Clark Harris and wide receiver/returner Willie Foster, there are a number of younger players who will look to establish themselves before the semester closes.
“I think we have a good mix. We’re a young football team, but we have some really experienced senior leadership,” Schiano added. “I say we’re young – when we enter training camp next year, 58 of our 85 scholarship players will have three or four years of eligibility left. That’s pretty substantial.”
Schiano is well aware that, with success, there are greater expectations.
I think that the expectation levels, if they don’t continue to rise, then we’re not doing the right things in building this program,” Schiano said. “And we’re not recruiting the right young men if they don’t want the expectation levels to rise.”
Rutgers football’s Spring Practice 2006 will culminate with the annual Scarlet-White Game on April 22, at 2 p.m. at Rutgers Stadium.