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September 24, 2013It seemed as though it would be only a matter of time before Rutgers redshirt sophomore tight end Tyler Kroft emerged with a breakout game. It looked as though that might have come in game no.3 against Eastern Michigan when he caught the third and fourth passes of the game from quarterback Gary Nova.
But Nova went to the sidelines after that and with him seemed to go the RU passing attack.
Fast forward to one week week later against Arkansas and Kroft was still an early target for Nova. Kroft caught the first pass of the game, which resulted in a 33-yard gain.
"I think Kroft is getting better every week. We knew that he was a good matchup on the inside linebackers and we tried to exploit that early, which we did," Nova said. "We dialed it up early in the game and he ran great routes and did everything."
Nova continued to look Kroft's way as the two hooked up six times for a total of 133 yards. It was the first time a Rutgers tight end eclipsed the century mark in receiving yards since Clark Harris did it in the 2006 Texas Bowl.
"It's kind of surreal. I am still taking it all in. I am kind of blown away by all this," Kroft said.
Kroft also added a 15-yard touchdown reception late in the second quarter, which put put Rutgers on the board for the first time.
"We were practicing that play a lot this week because we knew if we ran a double move we could get them to bite on it, so it kind of just fell into place," Kroft said.
Kroft came to Rutgers as a true freshman in need of some time in the weight room. When he arrived at Rutgers in the summer of 2011, he looked more like a wide receiver than a tight end.
Since that time, Kroft has added around 32 pounds and truly looks the part of a college tight end.
"Tyler has built himself into a tight end that can play in the run game and that was the only thing he needed to do to get the opportunity to catch these types of passes," head coach Kyle Flood said. "I don't say this as a joke, this is just the reality of it; the tight ends that don't prove themselves in the run game become slow receivers. That's really all they are. And Tyler has done a great job over the last two years of getting better and better in the run game, and a tight end who, like him, who can run and catch the way he does; if he can run block proficiently, he's a huge weapon for us because he catches the ball like a receiver."
Kroft arrived at Rutgers in June of 2011, but his big arrival on the field may have come this past weekend. He ended a seven year drought in which Rutgers did not have one its tight ends go over the 100-yard receiving mark.
Now, there looks to be a bright future in store for Kroft as he finally had his breakout performance against Arkansas.
"I was hoping it was going to be this game," Kroft said. "I have been trying to become a bigger part of this passing offense."