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August 5, 2013

The Monday Morning Kickoff





It's a busy time in Piscataway as the action is fast and furious on the football field as well as on the recruiting front. Now it's time again for The Monday Morning Kickoff to get you caught up on everything you need to know to start off a new week in the Scarlet Nation.

A view from the gridiron (Rutgers football)
Football is in full swing in Piscataway as the Scarlet Knights have three summer practices in the books. Yesterday, head coach Kyle Flood announced his season captains: Gary Nova, Brandon Coleman, Jamil and Jamal Merrell.

"The leader characteristics are just planted in me," Jamil Merrell said following yesterday's practice. "It is really no surprise. I just do what I do and try to give 110 percent every time. So for my teammates to feel as though I am the guy for the job, I thank them and feel blessed."

On a much less positive note, fifth-year senior offensive lineman Antwan Lowery left practice with an ankle issue.

"I would say just from experience it looks like one of those low-high ankle sprains and it's probably going to be a couple days," Flood said. "But we will know a little bit more [Monday]."

Fifth-year senior transfer Lewis Toler spent his first three Rutgers practices as a second-team cornerback, although that status could change in the very near future as he looks to be closing in on a starting spot.

"I see more in his work ethic than anything at this point. He really is a lunch pail Rutgers type of football player," Flood said of Toler. "He is our kind of guy. He comes out here every day and he works his tail off. He does an excellent job and certainly he is talented."

During yesterday's open practice wide receiver Leonte Carroo continued his excellent summer, making one catch after the other. Also staying true to form, wide receiver Carlton Agudosi continued to make plays. The redshirt freshman had the longest play from scrimmage on a deep pass in which he torched his defender.

"I think he has had an excellent offseason." Flood said of Agudosi. "His body type will create issues for defenders if he catches the ball as consistently as he has the first couple of practices."

Rutgers will take the field for practice No.4 today at 3:15 p.m. Stay logged onto Scarlet Nation for the best practice reports around as we continue to bring you the most comprehensive and informative coverage of Rutgers football.

The Inside Scoop (Rutgers recruiting)
The biggest recruiting news in the Scarlet Nation involved this weekend's unofficial visit from 4-star Manalapan wide receiver Saeed Blacknall, who was accompanied by both of his parents who got their first taste of the RU program.

After having Rutgers outside of his top five for a while, Blacknall is back thinking about the Scarlet Knights and gave Saturday's trip high marks.

"It was more for my parents, not for me. My dad and my mom had never really gotten the full tour of Rutgers, so they had a chance to go up and check everything out," Blacknall said. "They liked it. They love how they will be going into the Big Ten. They think it is a good situation."

The No.4 overall prospect in New Jersey per NJVarsity and the 109th nationally according to Rivals, Blacknall seems to have narrowed his choices down to Rutgers, Alabama and LSU, and is set on making a decision before his senior season.

He told Scarlet Nation yesterday he is looking to visit again this week to watch the team practice and spend some time with players.

South Brunswick class of 2015 standout Dontae Strickland said yesterday he is also looking to visit this week. Strickland added he would look to coordinate his visit with Blacknall's.

Rutgers also hosted two major New Jersey targets in the class of 2015 on Sunday. Barnegat offensive lineman Sam Madden and Union wide receiver Daiquan Kelly both hold RU offers and enjoyed their latest visit to Piscataway.

"I liked it a lot. It was a very high-tempo practice," Madden said. "I watched the offensive linemen up close and the main thing that stood out was how quick their feet were and how they moved. I also picked up a few pointers I think I can use myself."

Today, talented 2014 Gilman School (Md.) linebacker Melvin Keihn returns to Rutgers after visiting Piscataway in March. Keihn, who is looked at by the Rutgers staff as a possible "R" defensive end, visited Wake Forest over the weekend.

Virginia and Virginia Tech are also strong competitors for Keihn's commitment. Stick with the Round Table and Scarlet Nation for the latest developments on Keihn's visit.

Finally, Rutgers could be getting some good news this week from Miami (Fla.) Norland wide receiver Kendrick Edwards. Edwards, who has long had Rutgers as his favorite, is looking to decide this week.

"I'm going to make my decision this week," he told Scarlet Nation. "I don't know yet [what day] but it will be this week."

The Scarlet Knights lead Louisville and others for Edwards' services, and are the only program of his top five that he has seen in person.

"I'm looking for somewhere I can play early, with good academics and full of good guys," Edwards said.

Scarlet Nation will have the latest on Edwards' recruitment as the week plays out.

The take from center court (Rutgers basketball)
The final stretch of the JSBL begins tomorrow night at Wall High School when the playoffs get underway. The first three rounds are scheduled for Tuesday through Thursday of this week, with the championship set for next Monday night.

Scarlet Nation will post the full playoff slate when it is released later today.



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