First you talked running backs, then intimidators, now another Wednesday Poll question, what was the most lethal aerial connection in Rutgers football history?
On this “Water your flowers” Day or “My bucket’s got a hole day” depending on your preference, Rutgers hopes that the seeds planted in John McNulty’s new passing game may one day grow young talent into players that grace this list. Art Sitkowski and Bo Melton have the program buzzing, but plenty of other freshmen and sophomores with plenty of time to reach their potential, too.
So who comes to mind as some candidates who were the best at connecting when it mattered on the field for the Scarlet Knights?
Gary Nova and Leonte Carroo. How many times did defenses have to explain this after coming back to the sideline? The stats are almost mind boggling as Carroo shattered the old career touchdown record with 29 of his own including nine on just 28 catches as a true sophomore. What is most impressive are the 4th down conversions that include one against Fresno State (though they would ultimately lose), Arkansas, and Temple. And of course the first play of 2014 that set the tone for a successful season. Carroo finished 2014 with 55-1086-10 in the first year in the Big Ten.
Chas Dodd to Mohamed Sanu. If you throw it, he will catch it. “He” as in Mohamed Sanu caught so many balls, he set a Big East record with 115 receptions in 2011 with Dodd. Toss in the 1206 yards plus 7 TDs and Sanu was drafted in the third round.
Tom Savage to Tim Brown. They weren’t initially on this list but Brown went nuts for 20.9 yards per catch in 2009. 55 catches, 1150 yards, plus nine touchdowns is incredible production from a guy who was about 5’5”. Savage probably wishes he had Brown in Houston ... and of course, there’s this, the most improbable play I ever saw (other than Brantley who we will get to.) That deserves some of this and a spot in the poll.
Mike Teel and pretty much everyone. After Ryan Hart graduated, Teel got the green light. Late in 2008, it felt at times the offense was on automatic pilot. After starting the season 1-5, the Rutgers passing attack broke out as eight players hauled in a dozen receptions. Underwood could not replicate his stats from the previous year, but he, Kenny Britt and Tim Brown complemented each other so well as a trio. Add tight ends Kevin Brock and Shamar Graves combining for a line of 42-527-5 and you have an attack that can beat teams with all kinds of personnel.
Ryan Hart and Tres Moses. For those at the Insight Bowl, at times it felt both teams were going to ... throw the ball that deep. Moses broke Marco Battaglia’s single season receiving yardage mark and became the first Scarlet Knight to eclipse 1,000 in a single campaign. Hart was occasionally maddening, but he had the resiliency that was key to the team’s first bowl berth in almost 30 years (2nd ever).
Mike McMahon and LJ Smith. Even before the soup and balls from Donovan McNabb, and with due respect to Errol Johnson who had a solid career, when the team was trailing LJ was the go to guy. On teams that weren’t that good, LJ probably said something like this (in a manlier way) when breaking the huddle. Both players had some level of NFL success which sets them apart from any other duo on the list.
The other side of the ball, well, let’s forget that for a second. Ray Lucas and Marco Battaglia were a potent duo offensively. After impressive numbers as a junior for Marco (58-779-4) he absolutely crushed it the following year with 69-894-10. The ten touchdowns set a school receiving record that would not be equalled for almost two decades, even more amazing that Battaglia was the prototype for what would become the modern Tight End. He was just slightly ahead of his time at the Pro level after being a consensus 1st team All-American at the collegiate level.
Bryan Fortay and James Guarantano/Chris Brantley. In the most dramatic win possibly in Rutgers football history, Brantley was on fire. Guarantano set the all-time receptions record while Brantley ended up in the NFL. Fortay became the backup who came in for Lucas when the team needed to throw, but was well suited to the bombs away style that is now the norm.
Scott Erney to Eric Young. Erney was pretty good at throwing downfield to a multitude of receivers, but Young was his favorite target in ‘87 and ‘88. In ‘86, Young was second on the team in receptions and in yards so the two players had a pretty solid run together. Of course they diverged dramatically after college with Eric Sr. taking his talents to Major League Baseball and Erney leading the Barcelona Dragons to the World Bowl final.
Eddie McMichael to Tim Odell. Dave Dorn was reliable near the endzone, (stop them near the goal line!) but Odell really came on in 1980, upping his receptions from 34 to 49 and yards from 466 to 718. The 1979 and 1980 teams were 8-3 and 7-4 respectively, surely bowl teams had the number of postseason games equalled the modern day quantity.
Bert Kosup to Mark Twitty. With due respect to Erney, his team’s didn’t win like Bert did. The team magical during the 1976 campaign and always managed to pull out close games. Twitty had more touchdowns (7) in 1975, but had more receptions (29) during the undefeated season. Twitty was an honorable mention All-American and there are no “What Ifs” because the Scarlet Knights were perfect.
Frank to Bucky Hatchett. “Flingin’ Frank” connected with William “Bucky” Hatchett for seven touchdowns through the air in 1947 as the team went 8-1. After dropping the opener to ranked Columbia, the team would not lose another game. It’s not exactly true about the 1940s, but Frank Burns was important enough as a quarterback (before his illustrious coaching career), to be drafted 19th overall (8th pick of the second round) in the 1949 NFL draft, the third highest draft choice in program history behind Alex Kroll (13th 1962 - AFL) and Anthony Davis (11th 2010).
So now it’s your turn.
Best aerial combo in Rutgers Football history?
This poll is closed
Dodd to Sanu
Teel to Britt/Underwood/Brown/Graves etc.
Hart to Moses
Big Mac to Chunky Soup
Ray to Marco
Fortay to Guarantano/Brantley
Erney to Young
Eddie to Odell
Kosup to Twitty
Flingin’ Frank to Bucky
Savage to Brown