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Rutgers lands eight players on Phil Steele’s preseason All-American or All-Big Ten list

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Eight Scarlet Knights received preseason honors with the fall season right around the corner.

NCAA Football: Illinois at Rutgers Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Eight members of Rutgers have been named to preseason Phil Steele All-American or All-Big Ten teams.

Aron Cruickshank led honors a season ago for Rutgers when he was named the Big Ten’s Rodgers-Dwight Return Specialist of the Year. He leads the Scarlet Knights once again with some prestigious preseason awards — and it began with being named a Walter Camp preseason All-American.

Now, Cruickshank has another honor to add to the list. He has been named a preseason Phil Steele First Team All-American as a kick returner. He has been named preseason First Team All-Big Ten for the same position. Cruickshank averaged 26.8 return yards per game a season ago and finished with two returns for touchdowns.

Joining Cruickshank on the list is seven other Scarlet Knights.

Linebacker Olakunle Fatukasi has been named preseason First Team All-Big Ten. A leader of the defense a season ago, Fatukasi totaled 101 tackles in 2020 for an average of 11.2 per game. He finished with double-digit tackles six times last season. He was voted First Team All-Big Ten by the media for the season he was able to put up.

Earning preseason Second Team All-Big Ten honors is punter Adam Korsak, long snapper Billy Taylor, and defensive lineman Mike Tverdov.

Korsak has solidified himself as one of the top punters in the nation. In 2020, Korsak had a net of 42.27 yards per punt. This was the second best in the Big Ten and eighth best in the nation. Taylor took over the long-snapper position for the Scarlet Knights as a true freshman and has started 45 straight games. Tverdov has been another leader for the defense. In 2020, he finished with 10.5 tackles-for-loss and this was highlighted by a three-sack performance against Maryland.

Making an appearance on the Third Team All-Big Ten list is wide receiver Bo Melton and linebacker Julius Turner.

Melton decided to return to the Scarlet Knights for another season and this was huge news for the offense. He finished with nine total touchdowns a season ago, including three multiple-score games. Melton has turned into a legitimate No. 1 option within the offense and is extremely important heading into 2021. Turner is another member of what should be a strong defense. He was an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection by the coaches and media a year ago.

Rounding out the eight selections is running back Isaih Pacheco, who earned a preseason Fourth Team All-Big Ten nod. Pacheco finished with 515 yards and three scores o the ground in 2020.

Greg Schiano led Rutgers to three Big Ten victories in 2020. This matched their high since joining the conference. They also saw 14 players recognized in All-Big Ten voting, the most since joining the conference. In 2021, the Scarlet Knights have a chance to see more players honored for what they are able to accomplish on the field.