It’s early in the season for giving out awards, but I don’t see how the pick could be anyone else. Whenever Rutgers has needed a play this year late in games the Rutgers offense has turned to one man, Kyle Monangai. Monangai has been the most important player during Rutgers best season in a decade. Looking back through Rutgers season it is impossible to tell where the Scarlet Knights would be without the lightly recruited and highly underrated running back out of Don Bosco. Lets take a look back through the season and see just how important Monangai has been to this teams success.
Rutgers vs Temple: (28 carries, 165 yards, 1 TD) This game had all the hallmarks of last years closely matched game against the Temple Owls. The Scarlet Knights had built a lead early but stalled on offense for the third quarter and allowed an inferior Temple team to hang around for a possible upset. After a Temple touchdown in the 4th quarter the mood was extremely uneasy in SHI stadium. Fans were asking, “Can the Scarlet Knights put a drive together to take back momentum and win a game they had no business losing?” Enter Kyle Monangai. On a got to have it drive Rutgers handed the ball to Monangai six straight times for 57 yards and one-yard touchdown run. The stadium went crazy, and the Scarlet Knights seized momentum back to win the game with 23 unanswered points.
Rutgers vs Virginia Tech: (16 carries, 143 yards, 3 TDs) This was another game where Rutgers started out strong. The Knights jumped out to a 21-3 lead and looked to be cruising to a win over the Hokies. However, Rutgers offense went cold in the third quarter, and Virginia Tech scored the first two touchdowns out of the second half to make it 21-16. Again the crowd in the stadium got very uneasy. Enter Rutgers Sandman, Kyle Monangai. On the next drive, in which Rutgers absolutely had to come away with points, Monangai took a 3rd down handoff 55 yards to the endzone. The momentum completely flipped and Rutgers was able to retake a two touchdown lead. Then, for good measure, on Rutgers next drive he took five straight handoff’s 46 yards for his third touchdown of the game. This completely eliminated any chance of a Virginia Tech comeback.
Rutgers vs Michigan State: (24 carries, 148 yards, 1 touchdown)This past weekends game was another masterclass in the 4th quarter for Rutgers and Monangai. As I'm sure everyone remembers, Michigan state was throttling Rutgers for the first three quarters. Then Michigan State fumbled the punt in the endzone and made the mistake of giving Kyle Monangai a chance in the 4th quarter. After a three and out Rutgers got the ball back desperately needing points to make it a one score game. The Scarlet Knights decided to bring in their closer. On the first drive in the fourth quarter Monangai carried the ball four times for thirty-five yards. He was bouncing off tacklers and delivering punishment to any Michigan State defender in his path. Then on the next play following Rutgers insane kickoff recovery Monangai took a handoff 21 yards for the go ahead score. The lucky fans who stayed in the rain did not see the last of Monangai’s fourth quarter magic yet. On the final drive Rutgers received the ball with just over seven minutes left on the clock. Rutgers handed the ball to Kyle nine straight times, and he was able to get tough yards and convert four straight first downs to ice away Michigan State. It was a truly impressive performance.
In case late-game heroics aren’t impressive enough, here are some statistical highlights to how great Kyle Monangai has been this year.
- Monangai is leading the Big Ten in rushing so far with 635 yards. He is ahead of names like Braelon Allen, Blake Corum, Roman Hemby, and Nicholas Singleton.
- Monangai is tied for second with Braelon Allen in the Big Ten with seven touchdowns.
- Kyle is third in the big ten in average rush yards per game at 90.7 yards per game.
- Kyle is first in rushing attempts at 120 showing just how heavily Rutgers has leaned on him.
Kyle is the MVP of the offense in my eyes and I don’t think Rutgers is able to pull out all of the wins that they accrued this season. Not bad for a running back overshadowed on his own high school team with one power five offer. Rutgers fans should thank their lucky stars the Greg Schiano took a chance and hit the lottery with Kyle Monangai.