Rutgers invited the public (at least the first 450 in attendance) into the team's practice today, and #CHOPNation showed up in spades, spanning the length of the sideline. Because of the rain, practice was held in the bubble facility outside the stadium. Here's what OTB observed:
- Janarion Grant is a freak. It's hard to describe how quick and fast (they are different qualities) the sophomore from Florida is when you see him up close and personal. The challenge for the Knights this year is finding as many ways as possible to get him the damn ball. He was a major weapon in the return game last year, but he needs more touches, either as a receiver or out of the backfield. Rutgers has struggled to optimize its explosive playmakers in the past, including Jeremy Deering, Miles Shuler and Mason Robinson. Let's hope Grant's development avoids the roadblocks those guys encountered.
- The QBs need a LOT of work. Perhaps it's a function of trying to get five or six guys practice reps, or maybe it has to do with normal early-spring rust, but all of the QBs were inconsistent. They all showed flashes of potential, but they were interrupted by lousy decisions and bad throws. Walk-on Sophomore Devin Ray (Bernards High School) may have been the most pleasant surprise - he throws a very nice ball with a lot of pop. Blake Rankin appeared to be the most fluid and mobile, but he struggled with accuracy. Perhaps most notable was what I did NOT see: Gary Nova's 33 games of experience did not noticeably set him apart from the pack. And the fans I spoke with were decidedly and uniformly anti-Nova, whatever that's worth.
- The intensity was great. The first full pads, full contact practice did not disappoint. Guys on both sides of the ball were flying around the field, the environment was loud and exciting, and there were even a few minor scuffles between offense and defense (nothing serious, just some competitive fire).
- Other players who stood out: Soph. CB Anthony Cioffi; RS Soph WR Carlton Agudosi; both FB, Sam Bergen and Michael Burton; RS Soph. WR Ruhann Peele; and massive OL Keith Lumpkin.
- Update: Check out Tom Luicci's article on the helmet cams the QBs are wearing every snap of practice, which allow the coaches to see what they are looking at and how they go through progressions. I saw the lights on the helmets but didn't know what they were.
There were also a ton of recruits on site today for Rutgers third unofficial visitors weekend. Commits Mike Dare and Nakia Griffin were on hand for the action. Rutgers issued several offers, and early reviews from recruits were very positive. Some of the prospects visiting include:
Jersey Guys: Isaiah McLean, ATH (Newark); Darrian Harris, LB (Winslow Twp.); Nazir Williams, WR (Bridgeton); Nolan Borgerson, WR/DB (Westwood); Dwon Walker, S (St. Peter's Prep); Jimmy Wilson, OL (Middletown South); Tanner Cowley, LB (Manasquan); Benson Israel, OL (St. Joe's Montvale); Clay Kemp, DL (St. John Vianney Holmdel)
Loved Rutgers today❤️🏈, do I look good in red#CHOPNation pic.twitter.com/hrAJ4TClOg— Darrian B. Harris (@SWAT_team30) March 29, 2014
Love the atmosphere at Rutgers— Nazatron (@NazatronW) March 29, 2014
Great day at Rutgers. Thanks to all the staff for making each visit great. #CHOPNation— Tyler Davis (@Tyler_Davis9) March 29, 2014
Going to check out my dad's alma mater tomorrow . #RU— Jarrett Guarantano (@Guarantano18) March 28, 2014