football Edit

Rutgers football captains to provide key leadership heading into the summer


In what came as a surprise, the Rutgers football team voted and announced four captains prior to the start of the start of the Scarlet-White Spring Game last Saturday.

Offensive lineman Zach Venesky, running back Raheem Blackshear, and linebackers Tyshon Fogg and Tyreek Maddox-Williams were all voted by their teammates and won by a landslide.

“I think we have outstanding leadership. We changed what we did with the captains and voted at the end of spring so our leadership is set for the summer,” Rutgers coach Chris Ash said. “We have four great captains who are going to provide great leadership for this group.”

Normally, the Scarlet Knights voted for the captains at some point during training camp. But if you recall last year, several players got into trouble and were suspended for off the field issues in July before fall camp.

Ash didn’t specifically say it, but he hopes the set captains and set leadership will help prevent any of that over the next several months.

“I wanted the leadership of the team to be set for the summer. A lot of times when we vote for captains in the fall, there are some new players in the room who have not necessarily been around and truly know who are the leaders. Sometimes their vote becomes a popularity vote and it can sway who actually becomes a captain. I wanted the guys who have been here the whole offseason and all spring to impact who the captains were and it is more about having leadership set for offseason workouts,” Ash said.

“We have not done that. I have done that in the past at other places, but I thought for our team right now, our needs, it was something that we needed to do differently and that is why we did it.”

Fogg, Maddox-Williams, and Blackshear are all juniors eligibility wise and Venesky is the lone senior.

This upcoming season, Blackshear, who led the team in both rushing the receiving a year ago, is expected to be the team’s top play-maker with the ball in his hands. Right now, Fogg is set to start at middle linebacker, Maddox-Williams is manning the strongside spot on the second level of the defense, and Venesky is the man at left guard.

"It's special to get this honor," said Fogg. "I just remember going up through the program. I used to come up here early before team meetings and practice my speech talking in front of everybody. It is just a dream come true and it means a lot that those guys voted me in."

"Man it feels amazing," Venesky stated. "It is just a surreal feeling and I feel like anyone that comes in as a freshman has that dream of being the captains some day. Being voted by all of my teammates is an honor and shows they have a lot of trust in me and look up to me. Every day I have to be the best version I can be."

Quarterback Artur Sitkowski, who could get a 'C' on his jersey at some point in his career, is the heavy favorite to start opening day against UMass on Aug. 30. He was asked by TKR about the captains.

“Those guys are great,” Sitkowski said with a huge smile. “Starting off with Venesky, he’s a great guy, a great guy to be around, and he’s a vocal. Raheem is a great player and he’s played a lot of football and Tyreek and Fogg are great guys who have given everything to the program. I’m happy for them. I can’t wait follow them and have them lead us.”

One of Sitkowski’s wide receivers he will throw to is rising junior Bo Melton, and he could be any more happier than how the vote shook out.

“I voted for every single one of them,” Melton told TKR. “Fogg is my boy. Everybody know that. I’ve always loved his mentality. All of them are my boys. I don’t know that to say. I love all of the captains. Everybody in the room was elated when they were announced as the captains. Coach Ash said there was a big separation between them and everyone else. I’m excited for them and look forward to see how they will lead the team.”

Follow Chris Nalwasky on Twitter @ChrisWasky.