No more clambake for Rutgers. RU is now in the B1G, and that means they'll be heading to Chicago for the first time as a conference member. The 43rd annual 2014 Big Ten Media Days will be held at the Hilton Chicago and will feature 20 returning all-conference players and will also mark the first official appearances of Maryland and Rutgers as new members of the Big Ten. Representing Rutgers will be junior DL Darius Hamilton, senior FB Michael Burton, and senior S Lorenzo Waters.
Hamilton, a former consensus five-star recruit, is one of seven non-seniors to attend the event. As my esteemed colleague Andy Egan points out, the list of non-seniors puts the stud lineman in good company: RB Melvin Gordon (WISC), WR Stefon Diggs (UMd), sophomore (!) QB Mitch Leidner (Minn), QB Connor Cook (MSU), DE Shilique Calhoun (MSU), and QB Nate Sudfeld (IU). Hamilton finished the 2013 season on a tear, notching four sacks and 5.5 tackles for loss in the final four games. He has emerged as a leader of not only the defense but the entire team, evident by his representation at Big Ten Media Days as a junior.
Burton, a Morris County native, is a two-year starter at the fullback position who's value is undeniable. After Rutgers' rushing game was at full strength in the 2012 season, production noticeably dipped once Burton went down with an injury following the Arkansas game. In 2013, he helped pave the way for breakout star RB Paul James, and he'll look to continue his success in final year wearing Scarlet.
Rounding out the player representatives is senior safety Lorenzo Waters. Waters made 11 starts at strong safety in 2013 and finished third on the team in tackles (62). He led the team with 12 tackles during the Pinstripe Bowl, including a tackle for loss. Waters brings a wealth of experience to Rutgers' defensive backfield, as he also started all 13 games of the 2012 season. With many of last year's freshmen returning with game experience as well, Waters will look to lead a Rutgers' secondary looking to improve from the previous season.
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The event will likely be televised on ESPNU and BTN. The always interesting Jim Delaney and Tournament of Roses president Rich Chinen will speak at the luncheon, along with all 14 Big Ten head coaches. Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah, one of the top returning backs in the nation, will speak on behalf of the players.
If you're looking to attend, you can purchase tickets for $110 per seat, or $1100 to reserve a table for 10 people. You can purchase these tickets by contacting Josh Munk at the Big Ten office at 847-696-1010, ext. 105, or firstname.lastname@example.org to purchase tickets. The Saturday before will be the Big Ten 10K race hosted by BTN, so you can actually make a nice mini-vacation out of it if listening to head coach propaganda is your thing. There's also an autograph session with the coaches and players before the luncheon on the 29th.