football Edit

Rutgers RB Kyle Monangai making progress in training camp

Atop the Rutgers football team’s depth chart is Isaih Pacheco. Behind him, Aaron Young will also get some work.

Pacheco is a fourth-year junior who has started every game the last two years while Young is a third-year sophomore who has played in all 21 games so far with four starts in his career.

Next in line is up in the air with the likes of second-year freshman Kyle Monangai, freshman Al-Shadee Salaam, and second-year freshman Jamier Wright-Collins. Monangai played in five games a year ago on special teams while Wright-Collins was in at special teams in all nine contests.

“Aaron and ‘Pop’ will be the first two to go,” head coach Greg Schiano said after the Scarlet Knights’ second scrimmage over the weekend. “I think Kyle has had a really good camp. We’ll see. I think that’s one of the things we really have to study. You can’t get everybody carries. All of those guys will play whether it's at running back or special teams. ...It’s interesting. The young kid, Al-Shadee, he’s impressed.”


Rutgers RB Kyle Monangai
Rutgers RB Kyle Monangai (Richard Schnyderite -- The Knight Report)

Monangai showed something during Rutgers’ Scarlet-White spring game this past May running for 38 yards and a touchdown. Now he’s in a battle to potentially see some work.

After practice on Monday, the Don Bosco Prep product spoke with TKR and others.

“It's been a long camp, but it's been great work. Everybody's working hard. I've been working hard. It's getting to the end here, but it's been good,” Monangai said. “I think I've worked pretty well in camp. I took it one step at a time but it's not only me. We all feed off each in the room with AY, Pop, Jamier, and shorty that just came in. He's done well, too. If everybody is doing well it pumps each other up.

Last year at this time was so different as Rutgers was going to have a season, then it wasn’t, then it did. It finally was able to start preparing for a late start once school started, but it was nothing like training camp in 2021.

“Last summer, COVID was a completely messed up schedule. It wasn't really the full thing,” Monangai said. “This training camp was kind of our first official thing. And it kind of just got us to see what coach Schiano really wants in a training camp and you know. It was long and it was hard. It had to do a lot with mental toughness and physical toughness of course every day in practice, but it was really just about being focused on each day taking everything one step at a time.”

Listed at 5-foot-9, 200-pounds, Monangai said he is about 205 right now after coming on board in 2020 at about 193. He credited strength and conditioning coach Jay Butler and his staff for bulking up.

Monangai has also learned the offense more and things are slowing down for him.

“Since last year I've been getting in depth with the playbook and taking every bit of coaching tips I can and applying it to each practice. The other guys in the room, we all help each other to get the finer details,” Monangai said. “Second year doing it, now I'm starting to get acclimated to the college level. It's not high school anymore. Everything's a little faster, but I pick up on things more as you practice them. I'm more comfortable out there.”

The game feeling slowing for Monangai can stem from his role on special teams a year ago.

“Cach Scheier likes running backs a lot on special teams. Anywhere he puts me I kind of just go out there and do it. That's another whole aspect with the finer details,” Monangai said. “I take that just as seriously as I do my running back work. I was involved with kickoff last year and punt block. It was kind of a good way to get my first little taste of college football.”

Playing strong competition in high school in Bergen County also helped.

“Coming from playing in the Big North in high school and then coming to play big time football, it's a big job. But it was a good first taste to see what this level of football is like,” Monangai said. “I always say that Bosco and Big North football is the best football in Jersey you can find. It was a great experience. I'm happy to be here. I'm still Jersey being able to represent and be able to play in front of my high school community and stuff. They can come and watch my games.”

Pacheco played a big role as well for Monangai as a mentor. Monangai said they share a room right now and that Pacheco has shared loads of advice.

“As soon as I got here he kind of took me under his wing. We've come very close,” Monangai said. “We're roommates this training camp. We're even closer now. He's been a good person to lean on with advice. He's been doing it for four years. Any little advice whether it's with our daily routine or specific football stuff, or handling stuff outside of football is good. He's been a great friend and a good person to lean on.”

Rutgers kicks-off its season on Thurs. Sept. 2 at 6:30 p.m. against Temple, and Monangai is very much looking forward to it. He can’t wait to see the crowd and all the support.

“The season is (nine) days away. It's going to be fun. Come the season, all the fans will be back,” Monangai said. “I can't wait to actually see a packed house. The first game's going to be sold out. Last season being a COVID year, we played in front of family and some friends. It was good, but it's not the same experience of course. Seeing a packed house is going to be fun.”

Follow Chris Nalwasky on Twitter @ChrisNalwasky.


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