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Senior day, and the class of '05

This Saturday's home finale is Senior Day, and that means the last ever game at Rutgers Stadium for the following seniors:

Billy Anderson (walk-on)
Blair Bines
Ryan Blaszczyk
Pat Brown (walk-on)
Tim Brown
Jack Corcoran
Andrew DePaola (walk-on)
Ryan D'Imperio
Kevin Haslam
George Johnson
Zaire Kitchen
Jabu Lovelace
Devin McCourty (whoops, left him off at first)
Damaso Munoz
Dom Natale

There's also the matter of fourth year juniors who may not be invited back for another season on scholarship (note: I've given up guessing on walk-ons like Dumont and Barbieri because I have no idea whether they're on ship or not). Kordell Young will certainly attempt another comeback, and Teddy Dellaganna, Shamar Graves, Julian Hayes, Charlie Noonan, and probably Sorie Bayoh, Edmond Laryea, and Hoagie Morales will return for another season.

Bayoh has played a little, although he'll probably be passed on the depth chart by several underclassmen next year. As to Laryea and Morales, it's hard to say because Rutgers used the fullback so little as is this year, and Corcoran gets most of those snaps. Have to think that one of not both will return though. That leaves offensive linemen Marlon Romulus and Mo Lange as the most likely bets not to return for a fifth year. Either could be a second-string guard though, so who knows. Please be aware that this is 100% speculation, and it's very difficult to get accurate information about the second and third strings on the depth chart.

Anyway, I'd like to single out Blaze, Haslam, Lovelace, DMC, and Munoz (technically Natale too, but he was a transfer in) as the last remaining members of the 2005 recruiting class. What's so notable about this group (including Ray Rice, Tiquan Underwood, Jason McCourty, Glenroy Lee, Kevin Malast, Pete Tverdov, Darnell Stapleton, and Gary Watts who are no longer on the team) is that they were the last Rutgers football class to place their trust in the program when it was just a promise, more than a decade removed from their last winning record. For these remaining fifth year seniors, all they've known at Rutgers has been winning, which is quite a remarkable accomplishment.

It's just one of those flukey things that the '05 class turned out to have so many big contributors. In fact, at the time it was considered a disaster and a major setback for the program. '05 was believed to be one of the best years for New Jersey talent in some time. Greg Schiano and staff had high hopes coming off their promising '03 campaign, and set their sites on keeping some of the state's top talent at home. A disasterous 4-7 season led to a class that was universally panned, but turned out fantastic in retrospect.

On Saturday, the five remaining '05 signees deserve their own special round of applause. Everyone should also take a moment and thank their lucky stars that the likes of Rice, Stapleton, and Tverdov and others believed in Rutgers football when it was not very easy to see or imagine daylight. They showed remarkable courage, and their determination paid off in the end.