The Rutgers Football: Best and Worst of the Decade article was already posted .... so it’s time for the all-decade teams. These spots were selected by a panel of just one, not the entire OTB staff, so of course there’s bias no matter how much I tried to strip out. Much of these thoughts have already been covered, so let’s keep it simple ...
QB: Gary Nova (unanimous)
Though he drove you crazy early in his career, Nova at his best was among the best in the history of the Rutgers Football program. With his entire career this decade, there was no question. 2nd all-time at RU in passing yards, 2nd in completions, 1st in touchdowns.
RB: Jawan Jamison, Paul James
Jamison was the best at his best of anyone, scampering for over 1,000 yards as a redshirt sophomore, the last RU player to top the 1K plateau in a single season. Then if his value wasn’t evident enough, the offense went to hell in a handbasket in 2012 after he was injured. Jawan’s 1,972 career rush yards is 15th in school history, his 13 rush TDs are 17th.
James when he was healthy was a true gamebreaker, first-team all AAC in 2013. Unfortunately the injuries piled up and he never really got to prove it in the NFL like Gus Edwards, Robert Martin, or Jonathan Hilliman. Paul (1,810 career rush yards, 19 TD) got the nod from me over Martin (9th all-time 2,274 yards, 18 TD) because when healthy James was the undisputed lead back. Martin shared carries his entire career with Paul, Josh Hicks, Edwards, and even Justin Goodwin.
Michael Burton is the odd man out, though would get plenty of snaps.
WR: Leonte Carroo (unanimous), Mohamed Sanu
Leonte Carroo’s 29 career TD (1st in program history) speaks for itself on just 122 receptions (12th) even if his pro career is less than Sanu, Coleman, or even Tim Wright. Carroo had FIVE games in his career where he scored three touchdowns. And he did it mostly against Big Ten competition.
I originally had Coleman over Sanu since Brandon (20 TD, 2nd all-time) played three years in the decade to just two for Mohamed, but Sanu had more catches in one season (115 in 2011) than Coleman did for his career (94).
TE: Tyler Kroft
Kroft was as reliable a tight end as one could ask for. His 70 career catches for 901 yards and 5 TD look pedestrian, but he was playing alongside more talented WRs than say Jerome Washington. His NFL production dwarfed that of D.C. Jefferson.
OT: Keith Lumpkin, Tariq Cole
Yea, both guys primarily played left tackle, but getting six years (Lumpkin ‘13-’15, Cole ‘16-’18) combined from two players to protect the QB’s blind side is underrated. For all the quarterbacks that have been in and out the door in Scarlet recently, the amazing thing is how few times the door revolved under center due to injuries. They weren’t perfect, but the only other three year starter at tackle was Kamaal Seymour for all his limitations.
OG: Kaleb Johnson, Chris Muller
Johnson started at three different positions over four years overall, but was surely best at left guard when the team could run behind him seemingly every time they needed a few yards. Muller was a four year starter also and barely gets the nod over the steady Dorian Miller. Plenty of debate is welcomed here, perhaps you prefer Jonah Jackson at this spot?
OC: Jonah Jackson
Derrick Nelson and Betim Bujari is probably a toss-up, so I gave the nod to Jonah Jackson even though he played more guard. Bujari also played guard after returning from injury. Nelson did play center after a scary injury of his own that some worried was Eric LeGrand 2.0. Jackson started at OSU as a graduate transfer, I doubt anyone else at any offensive line position at RU this decade could have.
Two-deep: Chas Dodd (QB), Michael Burton (FB), Robert Martin (RB), Brandon Coleman (WR), Andre Patton (WR), D.C. Jefferson (TE), Betim Bujari (OL), Dorian Miller (OL), Derrick Nelson (OL), Kamaal Seymour (OL), Antwan Lowery (OL)
Honorable mention for single season performance: Gus Edwards (2017), Jawuan Harris (2016), R.J. Dill (2012), Art Forst (2011), Mark Harrison (2010)
DE: Kemoko Turay (unanimous), Kevin Wilkins
Turay is an obvious choice even though he’s not even in the top 10 for career sacks on the banks. 2nd round NFL draft picks don’t grow on trees and his sack production was astronomical compared to the rest of the Big Ten era defensive linemen. Wilkins played more end than tackle out of necessity and was effective wherever you played him. He had 13 tackles in a single game against Indiana as a defensive lineman?!?!?
Maybe Justin Francis deserves more in his two years in the decade?
DT: Sebastian Joseph-Day, Scott Vallone
Joseph got playing time even with so many experienced veterans on the line with him and turned himself into a 6th round NFL draft selection after winning a Homer Hazel Award as team MVP. Vallone’s teammates got more run in the NFL, but he was the best player on the line during his days on the banks. It’s possible for the college level he was the best linemen overall on either side of the ball during the 2010s at RU. Scott was a 1st team Freshman All-American and finished as a First-team All-Big East player.
Joseph is one of just 24 Knights to play in 50 career games while Vallone is the program’s all-time leader with 53.
LB: Steve Longa (unanimous), Khaseem Greene (unanimous), Deonte Roberts
Longa (8th all time with 342 tackles) and Greene (4th all time with 387) are locks and possibly the top two defensive players of the entire decade. Roberts (2nd all time with 204 assisted tackles) was a three-year starter at middle linebacker so I gave it to him since I think he was a better player than Trevor Morris (9th all time with 335 tackles) or Steve Beauharnis who had more tackles.
The two-deep could get real heated as I didn’t find a place for Tyshon Fogg, Tyreek Maddox-Williams, or Jamal Merrell if you support one of them as being even a first-teamer. Let the comments flow!
CB: Logan Ryan (unanimous), Blessuan Austin
Even before their NFL draft results, these were the only two true shutdown corners in the program over the last 10 years. Austin (6th round draft choice) battled injury in four years starting including two as captain so I could see an argument for someone else in this spot. Ryan (3rd round draft choice) was awesome and deservedly a high draft choice. Ryan won the most player of the game awards during the 2012 championship season when he was named First Team all Big East following a Second Team nod in 2011.
S: Saquan Hampton, Duron Harmon
Both players saved their best for last and were drafted higher than most prognosticators expected. Hampton (6th round pick) was one of the best DBs in the Big Ten the last half of his senior year and started parts of four years, the only RU player to intercept two passes in a Big Ten game. Harmon (50 career games played) was the definition of a ball hawk and we even have seen it on Sundays, a two-time First Team All-Big East selection. Duron was as shocked as anyone when the Patriots selected him in the 3rd round, but he has made a lot of big plays en route to three Super Bowl rings.
That said, I could see an argument that at their best you might prefer a tandem of Kiy Hester and Lorenzo Waters. Let us know.
Two-deep: Darius Hamilton (DT), Jon Bateky (DT), Julian Pinnix-Odrick (DE), Jamil Merrell (DE), Trevor Morris (LB), Quentin Gause (LB), Steve Beauharnis (LB), Marcus Cooper (CB), Anthony Cioffi (CB), Kiy Hester (S), Lorenzo Waters (S)
Honorable mention for single season performance: Willington Previlon (2019), Marcus Thompson (2013), Jonathan Freeny (2010), Alex Silvestro (2010), Justin Francis (2011), Joe Lefeged (2010).
PK: Kyle Federico
Reliable kicking has eluded the Scarlet Knights much of the 2010s, hence why Federico was the only scholarship kicker brought in during the entire decade. When he was hurt, it hamstrung RU big time. Kyle is 3rd all-time in field goals (46), 4th in FG percentage, and 5th in career points on the banks. His 52 yarder against USF in 2012 was a huge play.
P: Adam Korsak
This was the most challenging spot as Rutgers had some solid punters this decade thankfully. Korsak got it over Ryan Anderson and Nick Marsh because he played two years, not just one. And he won a lot more Ray Guy weekly awards. The 40.1 net punting average he achieved in 2018 was a school record until he shattered it in 2019 at 41.5.
KR/PR: Janarion Grant (unanimous)
I’m just looking around for who came in second. Grant had eight career return TDs, an NCAA record at the time.
Honorable mention for single season performance: Ryan Anderson (2017), the 2010 punt returners who combined for 3 TD, Jeremy Deering (2011), Justin Davidovicz (2018)
Who in the two-deep should have been a starter? Who got snubbed entirely? Did I really tick you off by omitting Damon Hayes and Avery Young? How about Raheem Blackshear?
Let us know in the comments below.
Rutgers Football player of the Decade, who you got?
This poll is closed
Khaseem Greene ...