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August 14, 2012
The quintet of offensive linemen within the 2012 Rutgers recruiting class--all rated 3-stars or higher--marked a significant Signing Day haul for then newly-christened head coach Kyle Flood.
Tackles Ryan Brodie, J.J. Denman and Chris Muller, guard Derrick Nelson and center Brandon Arcidiacono captured the imaginations of the scarlet nation, who envisioned the group as the building blocks for the Pro Style offense in the years to come.
But once all five of them arrived on campus, fantasy fell by the wayside, replaced by the harsh reality that achieving at the next level would be harder than anything they had experienced in high school.
"The first workout," Brodie said with a laugh about his 'Welcome to College Moment'. "I worked out hard at home but when I got here it was like a whole different type of workout. It's non-stop. Everything was intense."
In addition to Jeremy Cole's rapid-fire workouts, the five frosh have had to go up against a deep group of defensive linemen, many of whom are veterans with plenty of game experience.
"It's something that none of us have ever experienced before," Denman said. "We're going up against people who have been here for five years, have been in a Division I weight program and know all types of D-line technique. It's tough to depend on us, because we're all so new."
Though he was the lowest-rated of the five, Derrick Nelson has been the best performer of the group thus far, an accomplishment he attributes to his early enrollment in late May.
"It actually did help because I came here out of shape," Nelson said. "I got here early and then when these guys came in, I had a little edge on them."
Arcidiacono, one of three Pennsylvanians along with Muller and Denman, said he has relied on offensive line coach Damian Wroblewski and graduate assistant Darnell Stapleton to provide guidance as he acclimates himself to the Division I level.
"He's been amazing, he's been a huge help," Arcidiacono said of Wroblewski. "Coach Stapleton helps out a lot too. We work with him a lot more because he works with the younger guys but both of them are great coaches. I could go to them for anything."
With one week of training camp in the books, Muller is glad to finally be a full-fledged member of the team.
"First week of camp was great--just learning all the stuff, being able to share a bond with all the players. It's just been a great experience," he said.
With some of the hardest adjustments out of the way, Brodie says he and his classmates are taking a simple but direct approach to the next phase of the summer.
"We're just taking it one day at a time and focusing on getting better with every rep."
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