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March 18, 2013

The Monday Morning Kickoff





Football is on the verge of returning to Piscataway with the start of spring practice a mere week away. The hoops season is now all wrapped up while some RU wrestlers still have a chance to earn All-American honors at the NCAA championships. The Monday Morning Kickoff gets you caught up on all that and more as a new week dawns in the scarlet nation.

A view from the gridiron (Rutgers Football)
Rutgers' annual pro day took place last week, which featured a record-number of participants. One of the players who helped himself the most was defensive back Marcus Cooper, who clocked a 4.43 forty and a 39.5 inch vertical jump.

Running back Jawan Jamison was looking for a bit of redemption following a mediocre performance at the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine.

"I feel like [my 40 at the combine] was good, but my agent said I needed to improve on it," said Jamison, who clocked a 4.6. "So I ran it again. I think I ran maybe the first 10 [yards] better, faster and I'm sure I was more explosive in the first 10 yards."

There was also a lot of former players in attendance including Mike Teel, Anthony Davis, Courtney Greene, Jamaal Westerman, Kevin Haslam, Mohammed Sanu and Ray Rice, who offered the participants some advice.

"Honestly you have to believe that every scout that is here is here to look at you like it's your pro day," Rice said. "This is one of the few times when I would say to be selfish and think about yourself before worrying about the guy next to you. When you get into the NFL you become part of a team again. So shake hands, be brothers at the end of the day but you need to be focused on what you need to do because it's really an audition for a very high paying job."

Moving on to recruiting, Rutgers picked up commitment No.5 in the class of 2014 when Mount Olive offensive lineman Zack Heeman offered up his pledge a day after his Thursday visit to campus.

"That visit really put it over the top for me," Heeman said. "It let me know Rutgers is the place I want to be. I think that's the place that can help me reach my potential and get to the next level."

Spring practice will kick off a week from tomorrow and with spring break this week, there aren't expected to be unofficial visitors as there had been over the past few weeks. However, Rutgers will welcome a big visitor at the end of the month (March 30th) in Nassau C.C. offensive tackle Chad Mavety, who is among the top offensive lineman recruits in the country.

Stay logged onto Scarlet Nation for the latest developments as recruiting in the class of 2014 continues to build momentum. Also look for the return of out Ask the Staff segment later this morning.

The take from center court (Rutgers Basketball)
Another season is in the books as Rutgers failed to break the .500 mark for the seventh straight season. The Scarlet Knights finished with a record of 15-16 following a 69-61 loss to Notre Dame in the Big East tournament.

"We just didn't play two halves, didn't have any passion or energy or intensity the first half.," head coach Mike Rice said after the game. "Coaching staff's had to do cartwheels and cheering and yelling and screaming to get these guys, and when they did respond, that was the Rutgers that we had seen through the last month. It just took too long, Notre Dame's too good of a team."

There was some speculation that Rutgers would continue its season in CBI tournament but the university decided against that, bringing an end to Rice's third season at Rutgers. In that span, Rutgers has compiled on overall record of 44-51 with Rice at the helm.

The Scarlet Knights lose two seniors in Austin Johnson (5.7 ppg, 2.2 rbg) and Dane Miller (6.5 ppg, 4.6 rpg).

The staff will now turn its full attention toward recruiting as Wabash Valley (Ill.) Juco wing Chris Griffin will make an officially visit to RU this coming weekend while Oak Hill Academy forward Lennard Freeman is also scheduled to be on campus soon.

Life on the mat (Rutgers Wrestling)
Rutgers ended its team portion of the season, finishing with a record of 16-4 but the season will go on for a host of Scarlet Knights. Rutgers will be represented by seven of its grapplers at the NCAA championships, which will begin this Thursday in Philadelphia. Here's a look at those representatives and their first-round opponents.

133 pounds: Vincent Dellefave (RU) vs. No. 12 Jordan Conaway (PSU)
141 pounds: Trevor Melde (RU) vs. Dean Pavlou (CHATT)
157 pounds: Scott Winston (RU) vs. Andy McCulley (WYO)
165 pounds: Nick Visicaro (RU) vs. No. 3 Peter Yates (VATECH)
174 pounds: Greg Zannetti (RU) vs. No. 8 Nick Heflin (OSU)
184 pounds: Dan Rinaldi (RU) vs. Cody Magrum (OSU)
HWT: Billy Smith (RU) vs. Ernest James (EDIN)



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