Football returned to Piscataway last week as the Scarlet Knights retook the field for start of spring practice. Meanwhile, the men's basketball team added and lost a player last week. For all the latest news including recruiting and more, here's our latest installment of The Monday Morning Kickoff.
A view from the gridiron (Rutgers Football)
Rutgers has completed three spring practices and the first with full pads came on Saturday. The practice included some live sessions and afterward head coach Kyle Flood commented on who caught his eye.
"I certainly saw some nice things from P.J. James. I saw some nice things from Desmon Peoples. I saw Ruhann [Peele] grab a couple footballs today. I think those guys are moving in the right direction. I think as we go through this process it's going to be important to get some of those younger players reps with the one's."
Class of 2013 Rutgers commits TJ Taylor, Eric Wiafe and Anthony Cioffi watched practice from the sidelines.
"It was awesome. I loved the contact; everyone was going 110%,"Cioffi said.
Saturday was also an unofficial visit day for some of the area's top juniors. One of those juniors, Pope John tight end Ryan Izzo, walked away with a Rutgers offer.
"Obviously with it being the state school, it's a big deal," Izzo said of Rutgers. "These offers coming in, it shows colleges are starting to take notice and my hard work is paying off."
Cedar Grove wide receiver David Njoku was another junior in attendance on Saturday. Not only does Njoku already hold a Rutgers offer, but he also has the Scarlet Knights among his favorites.
"Rutgers never fails to impress," Njoku said. "Coach Flood and I talked for a while. He's like a father to me, so that's important."
New offers also went out to a trio of sophomores from the garden state. St Joes (Montvale) offensive lineman Tommy Hatton, Glassboro wide receiver Juwan Johnson and Union City offensive lineman Steven Gonzalez all picked up Rutgers offers.
"I was surprised at first, didn't think I was going to get an offer," Gonzalez said. "I thought it was just going to be a regular visit like the last three times I went there. But once coach Flood asked to speak one-on-one, I kind of knew it would happen."
Later this morning, St. Peter's Prep junior running back Jonathan Hilliman will release his top ten and Scarlet Nation's Matt Hladik will have a complete breakdown of those ten finalists.
This week, Rutgers will also receive unofficial visits from four-star wide receiver Chris Godwin and double-digit oferree Juwann Winfree among others. Stay logged onto The Round Table for continual updates on those visits as well as the most comprehensive coverage of this week's Rutgers spring practices which are set for Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
The take from center court (Rutgers Basketball)
Rutgers picked up its third commit to the class of 2013 when junior college small forward Chris Griffin of Wabash Valley C.C. (Mount Carmel, Ill.) opted to become a Scarlet Knight.
Griffin committed while on an official visit to Rutgers last Monday and explained why.
"Just the passion that I saw the coaches and the players have about basketball. The relationships the coaches have with the players, that also had an impact on me. Academically, a degree from Rutgers, that's big time. All that made me realize this was the perfect place for me."
Another roster spot opened up last week as Malick Kone transferred out of the program after two years.
Kone appeared in 28 games this past season, making one start. He averaged 2.3 points and 2.0 rebounds in 10.4 minutes per game, including a career-high 17 point effort in a win over Boston University on Nov 20.
Kone is the first member of head coach Mike Rice's prized recruiting class of 2011 to leave the program.