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September 30, 2013

The Monday Morning Kickoff

A new week begins in the Scarlet Nation and that means it's time for The Monday Morning Kickoff to get you caught up on the latest news in the Rutgers sports world.

The inside scoop (Rutgers recruiting)
Rutgers' weekend ended on a sour note, as Weston (Fla.) Cypress Bay cornerback Deion Hallmon elected to de-commit from the Scarlet Knights one month after choosing Rutgers over Syracuse and West Virginia.

"I just want to take all my visits," said Hallmon, who pledged to Rutgers without having been to campus.

Hallmon was originally scheduled to take his official visit to Rutgers on Oct 26 for the team's home game against Houston. As of now, he says he doesn't have any trips scheduled and is intending to focus on his season.

However, BadgerBlitz.com, Rivals' Wisconsin affiliate, reported last week that he is considering an official to Madison on Oct 12, and Syracuse is also likely to be in the running for his next commitment.

Hallmon told Scarlet Nation yesterday that he's not sure if Rutgers will remain an option for him. Whichever program he chooses, he doesn't anticipate making an announcement for some time.

"I just want to focus on the season and will commit on signing day," he said.

Three other Florida prospects-Gaither's Amani Oruwariye, Largo's Cordell Hudson and Tajee Fullwood of Tampa Bay Tech (and a USF commit)-are options on Rutgers' radar to replace Hallmon. RU was likely to add another cornerback to the class of 2014 even if Hallmon had stayed committed.

Elsewhere in the Sunshine State, Weeki Wachee (Fla.) offensive tackle Marcus Applefield remains Rutgers' top remaining offensive line target, and the 6-foot-6, 270-pound prospect informed Scarlet Nation of the roadmap he devised for the end of his recruitment.

Applefield will embark on four official visits-Vanderbilt (Oct 19), Virginia (Nov 2), Purdue (Nov 9) and Rutgers (Dec 7)-with a decision coming shortly thereafter.

"I'm deciding December 13th," Applefield said. "It's just kind of what I felt. I'm just looking forward to getting it over with. I'm graduating early, so I'm just ready to get started."

Should Applefield choose the Scarlet Knights, he would join Jacksonville (Fla.) First Coast cornerback Kamren Lott, Katy (Tex.) tight end Logan Lister and Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) University School linebacker Brandon Russell in Piscataway as January enrollees.

As always, check back later in the day for Scarlet Nation's weekly Recruit Scoop, which will give you the rundown on how all of RU's commitments and recruiting targets fared on the gridiron last weekend.

A view from the gridiron (Rutgers football)
Rutgers was off this past weekend in what was the first of three byes that will take place this season. The bye week meant some extra time for starting tailback Paul James to recover from his 'lower leg' injury. James' 573 rushing yards and six touchdowns has helped this Rutgers offense average 36.3 points per game this season.

"The run game is the quarterback's best friend. When you got a guy rushing the ball for 100 yards or whatever, it forces the defense to bring extra guys down in the box and play a lot of one high coverages," said starting quarterback Gary Nova. "It gives you some shots down the field. With the guys we have at receiver, that's we want, to take advantage of those matchups."

James will miss the next two games for certain, but beyond that his availability is not yet known. In the meantime, Nova could have more weight on his shoulders when Rutgers faces SMU and Louisville on the road over the next couple of weeks.

"If it happens to go that way, I'll be ready," Nova said. "If coach Prince wants to throw it 50 times, I will be ready for that. If he wants me to throw it 25, I will be ready for that too. Whatever he wants me to do, I just have to execute."

Four games into the season, senior wide receiver Brandon Coleman leads Rutgers with 13 catches. But Coleman has been quiet after a catching nine passes in the season opener against Fresno State. He has just four receptions in the last three games and only caught one pass in the team's latest victory over Arkansas.

Coleman said he feels as good as he did last season and that there is no lingering effects of his offseason knee injury. He also added that the bye week helped.

"I think what this bye week was about and I am doing everything that the coaching staff and the medical staff have talked about," Coleman said. "We are all on the same page."

Head coach Kyle Flood will return to the podium this morning for a 10:30 a.m. press conference. Stay logged onto Scarlet Nations for live updates from the Hale Center.

The take from center court (Rutgers basketball)
The first practice of the Eddie Jordan era took place on Friday afternoon at the College Avenue Gym, the venue Jordan inhabited during his playing days at Rutgers.

"I liked their sustained effort. It was a long, physical practice," said Jordan, who declared he was most interested in his team displaying "effort, harmony, and competing with poise."

The squad was buoyed by the presence of transfers J.J. Moore and Kerwin Okoro, both declared eligible immediately by the NCAA.

Okoro's hardship waiver was originally denied before the NCAA reversed its course two weeks ago, while Moore found out his eligibility was granted on Thursday, one day before formal practices began.

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