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September 16, 2013

The Monday Morning Kickoff

Rutgers moved to 2-1 on the season with a 28-10 win over Eastern Michigan on Saturday and there's plenty to talk about with a new week dawning in the scarlet nation. From football to hoops to recruiting, The Monday Morning Kickoff gets your new week going.

A view from the gridiron (Rutgers football)
Rutgers won its second game of the season Saturday with a 28-10 victory over Eastern Michigan but may have lost its starting quarterback in the process. Junior Gary Nova left the game after the first series following a pair of hits to the head. As of Sunday, Flood did not provide much insight as to whether or not Nova would be available next Saturday against Arkansas.

"These things can span a wide spectrum, from a day or two and be back to playing again or missing weeks," Flood said yesterday during his Sunday conference call. "I'm not exactly sure what part of the spectrum we're on, but I should have a better idea probably by tomorrow."

Senior Chas Dodd came in and took over for three-plus quarters at quarterback, finishing 4-for-9 for 45 yards. The passing game all but disappeared with Nova on the sidelines, although the RU offense was able to turn to sophomore running back Paul James.

The former walk-on carried 21 times for 192 yards and scored three touchdowns, two of which came on runs of more than 50 yards. James showed an extra burst on those runs and left EMU defenders yards behind as he crossed the goal line.

"It was really important. It was one of the main things I focused on, finishing runs," James said. "When I saw it happen in the game, I saw it set up, I said 'I'm definitely going to finish this.'"

The Rutgers defense played without senior linebacker Jamal Merrell on Saturday and Flood wouldn't divulge the specifics of his situation afterward. Flood also remained mum on the status of starting senior safety Jeremy Deering who left Saturday's game early in the first quarter. All Flood would reveal is that Deering had a 'leg injury.'

Flood did say that center Betim Bujari, who missed Saturday's game with an undisclosed injury, will be back at practice on Tuesday. Senior center Dallas Hendrikson filled in formidably in Bujari's absence.

"I think calls I did pretty good, just certain things physically I've got to get better at," Hendrikson said post game. "[I'll] come in tomorrow night and get better."

Later today, Flood will take to the podium for his weekly press conference at 10:30 a.m. Stay logged onto Scarlet Nation for live updates as they unfold right straight from the Hale Center.

The inside scoop (Rutgers recruiting)
A recruiting week that began on a disappointing note for Rutgers fans-Pope John XXIII four-star WR Noah Brown opted to commit to Ohio State over the Scarlet Knights on Monday-ended on higher notes, thanks in large part to the Friday night performance of 2014 running back commit Jonathan Hilliman.

Hilliman rushed for 201 yards and four touchdowns in St. Peter's Prep's 35-32 win over Elkton (Md.) Eastern Christian Academy at High Point Solutions Stadium Friday evening. Hilliman showed impressive burst and speed as well as sharp cutting ability on offense, while also serving as an explosive pass rusher at outside linebacker, recording several tackles and one sack.

"It was great. It was an unbelievable game. The line did a great job and kept pushing," Hilliman said.

On Saturday, Hilliman was part of a slew of recruits to attend Rutgers' 28-10 win over Eastern Michigan. Included among the visitors were 2014 commits Saquan Hampton of Nottingham, WR David Njoku of Cedar Grove and Ramapo DE Jimmy Hogan, as well as 2014 punter prospect D.J. Helkowski of Farquier (Va.), 2015 ATH offerees Dontae Strickland of South Brunswick and Daiquan Kelly of Union City, and 2015 defensive back offeree Jordan Adams of Reistertown (Md.) Franklin.

Overall, the recruits came away impressed with the visit, and Eric LeGrand's halftime jersey retirement ceremony left a major impression.

"Eric's speech was sweet," said Hampton. "He motivated me for the goals I wanted to achieve."

"I thought it was a special day with Eric LeGrand getting his number retired and it was a great win," Hilliman added.

Rutgers is slated to host a bevy of targets at next week's game against Arkansas, including 2014 Jacksonville (Fla.) First Coast cornerback commitment Kamren Lott.

"Next week is the open week for my high school season. Before I leave in January, this might be the only time I can get up to campus," Lott said. "Me and my dad, last time we went for camp, we didn't get to see what a game atmosphere was like, so we're just really looking forward to seeing how that is."

Fellow 2014 commits Logan Lister, Robert Martin and Jacob Kraut also are planning to attend as unofficial visitors. Some of the 2015 targets set to attend include St. Peter's Prep five-star cornerback Minkah Fitzpatrick, St. Joseph Regional (Montvale) offensive lineman Tommy Hatton, Timber Creek cornerback Kareem Ali and Barnegat offensive tackle Sam Madden.

Meanwhile, for a complete breakdown on how Rutgers' commits and current targets fared on the gridiron, check out this week's edition of the Scarlet Nation Recruit Scoop later today.

The take from center court (Rutgers basketball)
Rutgers received a welcome boost on Friday evening when the NCAA ruled Kerwin Okoro eligible for competition this season after originally denying his waiver.

The former Iowa State guard elected to transfer to Rutgers in order to be closer to family following the deaths of his father and brother last year.


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