football Edit

The Monday Morning Kickoff

Rutgers O-linemen work out at practice last week
Rutgers O-linemen work out at practice last week ()

A view from the gridiron (Rutgers football)

Football has returned to Piscataway as the Scarlet Knights hit the practice field last week for the first time under head coach Chris Ash, who also introduced his new team slogan, 'The Hunt.'

“The Hunt is really the theme of the team right now. We are basically chasing the other teams in the Big Ten,” Ash said. “We really can’t make any secret about that. We are chasing and he have to go hunting every day. That’s the theme of the team right now whether it’s in the weight room, out in the indoor with our special workouts or in practice. Hunt work is extra work for the players too. We are limited with the number of hours we can be around our players. If they want to reach their goals and close the gap between us and the other teams in the Big Ten, they need to hunt, get extra hunt work in on their own.

Meanwhile, the quarterback competition is underway as Hayden Rettig and Chris Laviano are once again dueling it out for the right to run the Rutgers offense. The new power spread offense also means more running from the quarterback position, which has also thrust redshirt sophomore Gio Rescigno right into the thick of the race.

On Saturday, offensive coordinator Drew Mehringer talked about how the quarterbacks have taken to the task of more running.

“I think they really like the idea. If you think about it in terms of a basketball player, if you don’t want the ball in your hands all the time then I don’t know if you can play quarterback for us. It is a quarterback-driven offense. If you want the ball in your hand every single time and make a play, this is the place to play for you. I think from that standpoint, our guys have really, really gravitated toward that.”

On the offensive line, there was a notable position change as Tariq Cole has moved over to left tackle and has assumed the starting role through the first week of camp.

“Tariq has stepped in there and been playing the left tackle for us. He’s looked good, but he’s got no game experience,” Mehringer said.

There is also a search to replace the significant role Leonte Carroo played at the wide receiver position.

“I think we have to continue to develop some depth [at wide receiver]. Obviously when you look at the percentage of touches from last year, they all went to Leonte,” Mehringer said.

On the recruiting front, Rutgers welcomed a host of visitors to campus on Saturday to check out a spring practice.

“I loved the practice, got to spend a lot of time with coach Ash, and I also had lunch with coach Mehringer,” said Don Bosco quarterback Tommy Devito, who holds a Rutgers offer. “The practice is structured similar to Bosco's.”

Rutgers also landed a commit from a very talented in-state junior prospect yesterday as Toms River North athlete Bryce Watts opted to become a Scarlet Knight.

“I was sitting eating with my family and I thought about it. I said it’s time to commit. My family was all on board," Watts said. "So my dad said go ahead. He likes Rutgers so he told me to do it.”

That commitment followed an earlier one by Virginia native Kobe Marfo, who joined the 2016 class last Thursday after spending last fall at Reedley Community College in Reedley, Calif.

“Rutgers said I could come in and compete right away for a job and they see me as a starter. They like how I get in and out of my breaks and they like my length and my ball skills,” Marfo said.

Keep it locked on Scarlet Nation for all the latest Rutgers recruiting and team news as it unfolds.

Kobe Marfo
Kobe Marfo

The take from center court (Rutgers Basketball)

Rutgers introduced Steve Pikiell last week as its new basketball coach as he takes over for Eddie Jordan, who led RU to just a 7-25 record last season.

“I've been 25 years running up and down the New Jersey Turnpike in the recruiting process,” Pikiell said. “I've always looked at this job. I grew up in Connecticut, lived the process at UConn. My first year at UConn, Coach [Jim] Calhoun's first recruiting class, people used to ask, ‘Was UConn in Alaska?’ They knew of Yukon, Alaska, more than they knew the University of Connecticut. I looked at this job from afar. I watched the recruiting process. I saw the coaches that they've had in the past. I've reached out to most of them. I'm excited about the alums and about the former coaches who talked about this great university. I knew early on, when I met Pat, that this was a job that I really wanted to embrace and go after.”

Pikiell wasted no time getting started on recruiting as he landed his first commit over the weekend when shooting guard Matt Bullock of Roselle Catholic announced he would become a Scarlet Knight.

Bullock will be part of the 2016 incoming class and here is a look at his highlight tape.