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November 7, 2012Three conference victories now stand between Rutgers and its first ever-Big East championship. Upcoming games against Cincinnati, Pitt and Louisville will decide the fate of Rutgers' season and a certain sophomore wide receiver could play a part in how that fate unfolds.
Miles Shuler caught his first two passes against Kent State and showed he can be a dangerous offensive weapon, particularly on his second reception which was good for 31 yards.
"It felt really good. It was my first couple of catches," Shuler said. "The first couple catches are special but you just have to move forward. When I went back to the sideline, all the receivers came up and congratulated me. They started laughing and said 'finally.' It was really fun."
Now that Shuler has finally grabbed his first college reception, it could open the door and enable him to show exactly why he was such a highly-touted recruit coming out of Long Branch High School.
"Yeah, most definitely," Shuler agreed. "Once I caught my first couple of passes I feel like it could be a snowball effect and just get better and better."
The last year and a half was quite different for Shuler, who always had the football in his hands as a high school quarterback.
"It hurt a lot but it's like a learning situation; just sitting back watching Brandon Coleman play or Mark Harrison, Tim Wright," Shuler said. "Just sitting back and thinking 'okay when it's my turn, this is what I'm going to have to do and I'll learn from them.' I feel as though my career moves forward, I will capitalize on it."
Shuler's first two catches came on drag routes over the middle and were very reminiscent of the way Tim Brown used to gash opposing defenses. Shuler has drawn comparisons to Brown in the past and reminded that he has another similar element Brown brought to the table as a Scarlet Knight.
"I actually have seen Tim Brown go deep a lot also so that is another part of my game I want to bring out," Shuler said.
The final four games could indeed feature more of Shuler, especially with fellow wide receiver Quron Pratt having experienced his share of struggles over the last two games.
"Whatever the coaches go with, I'm down for. If there are more opportunities for me, I'll take them," Shuler said.
Shuler's first catch came 15 games into his college career, although last season he was used rather sparingly in seven game appearances. Looking back, a redshirt might have been more appropriate for his first season at Rutgers.
"I don't like to think about it a lot because it's over," Shuler said. "I can't dwell on the past but yeah I wish I would've redshirted definitely."
Shuler's confidence is likely to receive a boost after last week's performance, but through his entire RU career he's always been confident in his abilities.
"In the back of my head I was always thinking that I'm able to do these types of things. But we have a great receiving corps. Brandon Coleman, Tim Wright, they are all good. If they get the ball in their hands, it's okay because the team is still going to be good."