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January 27, 2014

The Monday Morning Kickoff

A new week begins following an eventful Sunday in the Scarlet Nation. That means it's time again for The Monday Morning Kickoff to get you caught up on all the latest Rutgers news.

The inside scoop (Rutgers recruiting)
This past weekend marked Rutgers' largest official visitor turnout of the recruiting cycle, and led to two fresh commitments: Warren Hills (Mich.) De La Salle quarterback Giovanni Rescigno and Dinwiddie (Va.) long snapper Alan Lucy.

The 6-foot-4, 210-pound Rescigno finally fills the quarterback void in Rutgers' class that was left when fellow Michigan native Tyler Wiegers de-committed in November. Rescigno, who also drew interest from Eastern Michigan and Michigan State, wasted no time in snatching up the offer.

"I spent whole weekend and enjoyed every second of it with the players and the coaches," Resicgno said. "When they offered me, I committed on the spot. Coach Flood was excited. All the coaches were excited.

"They are all really close and everyone cares for each other. They're a really close family. They work hard for each other and that's what I wanted to be a part of."

Like Rescigno, Lucy also learned of his offer during a meeting with head coach Kyle Flood at the conclusion of his official visit. He waited a few hours after leaving campus before making his decision.

"I really loved how it felt like a big family," Lucy said. "Hanging out with my host (kicker) Kyle Federico, I got to meet most the team and they all are always around each other.

"I love how close the team is and just in the few days I bonded with them really well. Coming from a state championship team and being one of the leaders I know what it feels like when a team has good leadership and I could really feel that at Rutgers."

Rescigno and Lucy's commitments were followed on Sunday evening by Avon (Ct.) Old Farms cornerback Andre Boggs re-affirming his pledge to RU following an official visit to Wisconsin.

Boggs first declared he was looking to visit elsewhere a couple of weeks ago, which he followed up by scheduling and taking the trip to Wisconsin. It looked like he might join the double-digit pool of de-commitments but he put those fears to rest last night.

"Rutgers university class of 2018 #Chop," Boggs tweeted.

The 6-foot, 175-pound Boggs, who picked up offers from Syracuse, Wisconsin, Penn State and others following his commitment to Rutgers in the fall, gives the Scarlet Knights much-needed depth in the secondary, and joins early enrollee Kam Lott, Nottingham product Saquan Hampton and Florida native Isaiah Wharton, who committed last week, as cornerbacks in the 2014 class.

But the day ended on a less positive note when Manalapan wide receiver Saeed Blacknall, the final remaining 4-star in Rutgers' 2014 class, officially flipped his commitment to Penn State University after a week of speculation about what Blacknall's ultimate decision would be.

Blacknall had been committed to Rutgers since June, but began to receive strong interest from Penn State in the wake of James Franklin's hiring as head coach of the Nittany Lions two weeks ago.

Several targets remain as Rutgers will welcome new visitors on Friday for another official visit weekend. Stay logged onto Scarlet Nation for the latest on all those visitors and more.

A view from the Gridiron (Rutgers football)
Last week, Rutgers welcomed five new players as a group of true freshmen began classes last Tuesday. Offensive tackle Marcus Applefield, cornerback Kamren Lott, defensive tackle Eric Wiafe, tight end Logan Lister and linebacker Brandon Russell will all take the field when spring practice commences on March 25th.

Later today, Scarlet Nation will be on hand in Piscataway to conduct one-on-one interviews with each of the five early enrollees.

The team still remains without an offensive and defensive coordinator. Scarlet Nation learned that top candidate Robb Smith is looking elsewhere and not favoring a return to Piscataway. The same applies to Brian Angelichio, who was rumored to be in the running for the vacant offensive coordinator spot. Angelichio was a fellow assistant of Smith's with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last season.

Rutgers interim defensive coordinator Joe Rossi continues to gain more favor and could conceivably wind up acquiring the job on a full-time basis. There are still a couple other names on the radar and be sure to check Scarlet Nation's premium message board 'The Round Table' for all the latest updates.

Lastly, Rutgers All-American tight end Tyler Kroft and linebacker Steve Longa were honored at Saturday night's men's hoops game for their accomplishments on the field last season. Kroft led Rutgers with 43 catches and Longa led the team with 123 tackles.

The take from center court (Rutgers basketball)
Rutgers dropped a home affair on Saturday night when a now 16-4 UConn squad handed the Scarlet Knights a 82-71 loss behind strong play from guard Shabazz Napier, who dropped 20 of his 26 points in the second half.

"This is one of those nights where we had to almost play a perfect game," said RU head coach Eddie Jordan. "They're a good team with a great player, and when a great player opens the floor up like that and a great player does his thing, it's very frustrating and the frustration got to us a little bit. We didn't keep our poise, the same story that, when the skirmish of the game, when it's a five, six point swing and you get stops, you have to take over the game somehow and we haven't learned how to do that."

Rutgers fans came out in full force as The RAC was sold out.

"It was a tough environment out there tonight," said UConn head coach Kevin Ollie. "It was the "blackout night." I told the guys we had our "blue-out night" and it wasn't successful, so let's try to spoil someone else's night. I think we did that, but I was so proud of the toughness that we showed. Sometimes I say we have to play tougher, but tonight we did that. It was a great win in a hostile environment."

The loss dropped Rutgers to 8-12 on the season and 2-5 in AAC play. Rutgers will be back at it on Wednesday night with a road contest against Temple set for 7 p.m. Earlier this season, Rutgers defeated Temple 71-66 at The RAC. Temple is currently 5-13 and have lost eight straight, its worst losing streak in 37 years.


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