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rutgers scouting report


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Tom Savage Named to Maxwell Award Watch ListRutgers QB Coming off Freshman All-America Campaign in 2009Posted on 8/9/2010 9:30:39 AM Font Size:  Print 

Tom Ciszek/NJSportsPhoto

PISCATAWAY, N.J. (August 9, 2010) – Rutgers sophomore quarterback Tom Savage (Springfield, Pa.) was named to the watch list for the 74th annual Maxwell Award today by the Maxwell Football Club. The Maxwell Award has been presented to the outstanding collegiate football player in America since 1937 and is named in honor of sportswriter Robert W. "Tiny" Maxwell.

Savage is also on the watch list for the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award.

The Pennsylvania native is coming off one of the best seasons ever by a true freshman quarterback. He appeared in 12 games with 11 starts in 2009 and finished the season with 2,211 passing yards and 14 touchdown passes. Savage also finished sixth in Rutgers single-season history with 2,211 passing yards.

Savage threw for the most yards by a true freshman in BIG EAST single-season history in 2009. He finished the season second nationally among all true freshman quarterbacks in passing yards and touchdowns.

Savage was named to the prestigious Football Writers Association of America Freshman All-America team last season. He joined an impressive list of quarterbacks who have been named the quarterback of the FWAA Freshman All-America squad. Some of the past FWAA Freshman All-America quarterbacks include Sam Bradford in 2007, Colt McCoy in 2006, Chad Henne in 2004 and Ben Roethlisberger in 2001.

Semifinalists for the Maxwell Award will be announced on November 8 and three finalists for the award will be announced November 22. The winner of the 2010 Maxwell Award will be announced as part of the Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards Show which will be held on December 9, 2010. The formal presentation of the award will be made at the Maxwell Football Club Awards Gala hosted by Harrah's Entertainment Atlantic City on March 4, 2011.

The watch list candidates have been chosen by the Maxwell Football Club's Selection Committee and the Maxwell Club reserves the right to make additions and subtractions to these lists as the 2010 season unfolds. All members of the Maxwell Football Club, NCAA Sports Information Directors, Head Coaches and selected national media are eligible to vote for these awards.

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Rutgers Football History Capsule

The Birthplace of Intercollegiate FootballFont Size:  Print   

When Rutgers defeated Princeton in the first intercollegiate football game ever played in 1869, the setting was quite different than it is today. The game was contested on a field along College Avenue in New Brunswick. There weren’t tens of thousands of cheering fans in a multi-million dollar stadium. There was no manicured grass field or electronic scoreboard. There was no elaborate athletic equipment or television cameras. But on that fall day in 1869, those students established a tradition of quality football programs, competitiveness and school spirit that continues at Rutgers, the birthplace of intercollegiate football.

1882 team 

On October 1, 1994, Rutgers celebrated that first team and all the teams that followed, as the 1994 squad played only its third game in the spectacular new Rutgers Stadium, hosting perennial national power Miami.

The game also continued 125 years of historical moments, outstanding athletes and memorable triumphs.

However, those historic moments were difficult to predict during the early years when intercollegiate football scheduling was inconsistent. For example, Rutgers won six of 10 games in 1882, but played only one game in 1885. Similarly, the Scarlet Knights went 8-6 in 1891, but two years later played only four games. By the early 1900’s, scheduling had become more consistent and football became more popular across the country.

George Foster Sanford 

The eight wins of 1891 weren’t matched until Rutgers went 8-1 in 1947 with one of the most successful teams of coach Harvey Harman in the Golden Era immediately following World War II. That team, quarterbacked by Frank Burns, who would later become Rutgers’ most successful coach, lost its opener to Columbia and then swept through eight straight opponents.

In 1913, coach George Foster Sanford began a tradition of success among Rutgers coaches in their inaugural year by leading his team to a 6-3 mark. He then flirted with two perfect seasons, improving the team to 7-1 in 1915 and 7-1-1 in 1917.

Robeson

Those two seasons, which featured All-American Paul Robeson, were among Rutgers’ best. The Scarlet Knights outscored opponents by an average of 44-3 in 1915 and 33-2 in 1917. Sanford, a member of Rutgers’ Hall of Fame, also helped to introduce Rutgers to the New York metropolitan area, playing games at the Polo Grounds against teams like Notre Dame, Nebraska, Louisiana State and West Virginia. A few year later, in 1924, two-time All-American end and fullback Homer Hazel helped coach John Wallace continue the tradition of first-year coaching success, as Rutgers posted a 7-1-1 mark.

Harman

Harvey Harman also had a successful first season, going 7-1 in 1938, the year Rutgers dedicated the original Rutgers Stadium. Rutgers won the dedication game, 20-18, over Princeton.

Harman, however, was replaced by former coach Harry Rockafeller during World War II. His tenure included an 8-1 season in 1947 when Rutgers, dominated by WWII veterans, registered a combined record of 27-7 from 1945-48.

1961 undefeated team. 

When John Stiegman coached Rutgers from 1956-59, he brought back the single-wing formation to the Scarlet Knight offense, and led Rutgers to an 8-1 mark in 1958.

The only loss of that season, 13-12 to the Quantico Marines, came when All-American tailback Billy Austin had to miss a game due to a broken hand.

Another first-year coach got off to an impressive start when John Bateman went 8-1 in 1960. That campaign was followed by Rutgers’ first undefeated season in 1961, when the team went 9-0, capping the season with a fourth-quarter, 25-point comeback win over Columbia. That team included All-American center Alex Kroll, and was ranked 15th nationally. In his 11 seasons, Bateman led Rutgers to 73 wins in 124 games.

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Howard Barbieri, Sr., C

On taking over the starting center role:

“I have watched a lot of film of the past couple of centers Darnell Stapleton and Ryan Blaszczyk. I have also met with Blaszczyk this summer and we watched film together. That helped me a lot. Taking snaps with Tom [savage] the entire summer got me a lot more comfortable for this season.â€

On your thoughts of entering your senior season:

“It seems like just yesterday I was walking into this locker room for the first time. Time really flew by. I would like to go out with the best record I can. As a senior leader, it is my responsibility to expect more from the younger guys. We need to perform the best that we can to be successful.â€

On the offensive line:

“There are some new guys in the mix but I think with the experience of the guys returning we will be just fine. We need to fix some things but Coach Flood will make sure those things are fixed for the start of the season.â€

On beginning preparations for the season:

“We have some starters coming back. We have some experience back. We are real excited to be back and get underway.â€

Steve Beauharnais, So., LB

On the start of training camp:

“It’s a good thing. We’re getting a lot of repetitions and we hope that becomes instinct. We’re developing our skills and hope it becomes a habit.â€

On the difference between his first training camp and now his second:

“At least I know what to expect since it’s the second time around for me. I know how to handle it, what the little secret tips are to make sure my body is right and that I’m mentally focused. We’re excited, we have a lot of energy and the chemistry is good among the team.â€

Art Forst, Jr., OL

On the start of training camp:

“It is good to get it started and be back here with everyone. We are all excited to play that first game. It is exciting to be back here playing football with the guys you have worked all offseason in the weight room training with.â€

On the offensive line:

“In the offseason I thought we did a good job at working and honing our fundamental techniques – how to move your body and how to stop your body. It is great to see these guys engaged and focused on the task and working on improving each day. I thought we have really improved as a unit from the spring.â€

On the bond you have as a team in the early stages of training camp:

“This team has a really good bond. It is a cohesive group of guys. Everyone is focused on what is best for the team and not themselves. We have become close early on.â€

Joe Lefeged, Sr., S

On helping the younger players adjust to their first training camp:

“At times it can be stressful, especially when you’re away from home for the first time. I know how they feel. I talk to some of them and just let them know to keep pushing through, keep fighting and continue to do what the program is asking you to do and you’ll be fine.â€

On aspects of his game that he has looked to improve this season:

“I guess reading my keys faster and improving my footwork. You can always get better at everything, tackling, footwork. I’m not perfect at anything so I can get better at all aspects of my game and just being a better leader, getting our whole team together. Communication is key on defense; just making sure everyone is on the same page.â€

On the senior class taking on the leadership role:

“This is our season, this is our last year and we want to make it a special year. You only get one shot at the 2010 season and we’re taking all the steps necessary to make sure it’s a successful one.â€

On the influence past leaders have had on him as he now becomes a team leader:

“I watched Devin McCourty, Courtney Greene, Ron Girualt and Jason McCourty in the defensive backfield. One thing that they did was they watched film and their off-field preparation, the way they took care of their bodies, and how they prepared for practice is something that I’ve learned and try to copy a little bit. Especially Devin last year, the way he went about leading the defense and the team. I think we have similar personalities where I can use some of the things he did last year that was successful for him.

Charlie Noonan, Sr., DT

On your impressions of camp so far:

“The start of camp has been good. We have taken a great approach to it. We just want to work hard and get our job done. We want to be the best we can be. We all work together and pride ourselves at being a hard working group.â€

On your thoughts heading into the season:

“I can’t wait. I know it is my last year. I just love this program. I love the atmosphere. I am going to miss it when it is over. We have a great group of guys. I am going to miss hanging out with these guys. It is great to bond with your teammates and put your best on the line against an opponent each week.â€

On the changes from when you first arrived here to now:

“It is a lot different. I have a lot more responsibilities now. I try to help out the younger guys. I have been through it and I understand it. I have been through coach’s program and I know what coach wants and what he expects. I try and help the younger guys see it that way.â€

On your first impressions of the newcomers:

“They are all eager to work and all study really hard. They have been studying all summer and have been in the weight room and the film room preparing for the season. I am impressed with what I have seen.â€

Mohamed Sanu, So., WR

On his comfort level coming into training camp with one year under his belt:

“It raises my confidence; I’m just embracing it all while I’m going out there playing ball. I know more about the game and the wide receiver position.â€

On the benefit of having played both offense and defense:

“It benefits me because I’ve been on both sides of the ball and I know what the defender is thinking and what the receiver is thinking. It will help me get open and separate from the defensive backs to make plays.â€

On the offseason workouts with his teammates: 

“I’m looking forward to it a lot and it will benefit the whole team because everyone has been working together to make sure that we are all on the same page. We’ve been working out a lot over the summer so we’re making sure our chemistry is right where it needs to be. You have more time [in the offseason] than you do during the regular season and you can fine tune all the little things you don’t get the chance to during the season and that benefits you a lot.â€

Tom Savage, So., QB

On the importance of connecting with his new teammates in the offseason:

“It’s real important because you have to go out there and establish a connection with all younger guys and the receivers so the offseason really helped us out. It’s huge because we have a bunch of young guys stepping at some key positions out there so it’s good to see what they can do in camp. It’s football all day long so it’s fun and it’s what everyone dreams for.â€

On the difference between his first training camp and now his second:

“It’s more relaxing I guess but I think you just have to go out there and be a leader. That’s something I needed to work on from last camp. It’s fun though because you know what’s going on. Last camp you’re all nervous, you miss your family and now I know it’s just strictly football and everyone is ready for business.â€

Scott Vallone, So., DT

On building on the experience you got last year as a starter:

“Getting used to the speed of the game and the whole experience on the field was invaluable. It is very different from any practice. I want to take that experience and build off of it and make things more of an instinct on the field.â€

On your work in the offseason:

“Coach Butler and his staff do a great job in the weight room and conditioning to make us a better player in the offseason. In spring ball, I got used to Coach Melvin and his techniques. That was a great learning experience for me and will help me this season.â€

On the defensive line:

“We have a lot of experience. There are a lot of guys back that have played games for us.  There are eight guys that were in the rotation last year back this season. It is big for us to show our strengths to help this team.â€

On your thoughts for the upcoming season:

“We want to take it one game at a time and improve throughout the year. We don’t want to regress in any sense. We want to get better and build off our experiences in games that we have played before. If we made a mistake in the past, we want to make sure we don’t make that same mistake twice.â€

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Desmond Stapleton signs an autograph at Sunday's FanFest.

Tom Ciszek/NJSportsPhoto

PISCATAWAY, N.J. (August 7, 2010) – The Rutgers football team reported to the opening of preseason camp Thursday afternoon at the Hale Center. The Scarlet Knights held their first official practice of the 2010 season Friday afternoon on the grass practice fields adjacent to the Hale Center.

Both veterans and rookies went through check-in Thursday, including moving into dorm rooms on campus for the duration of preseason camp.

The players went through check-ins with the training room, equipment room and the athletic communications staff as just part of their day. Some of the team members also met a horde of media members, including a host of print and internet reporters, in addition to several television outlets.

The Scarlet Knights held their first team meeting of the year Thursday as well before hitting the practice field Friday.

The weekend culminated on Sunday afternoon with the annual FanFest held at Rutgers Stadium.

Rutgers opens the 2010 season Thursday, Sept. 2 vs. Norfolk State. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. from Rutgers Stadium. The Scarlet Knights are one of only four teams nationally to win four consecutive bowl games the previous four seasons.

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FOOTBALL HOME > SCARLETKNIGHTS.COM MAIN PAGE Rutgers Selected Fifth in Preseason Media PollPosted on 8/3/2010 7:45:34 AM Font Size:  Print 

NEWPORT, R.I. – The BIG EAST conference office released the 2010 preseason media poll and Rutgers was selected to finish fifth. After receiving 22 of a possible 24 first-place votes, Pittsburgh is the overwhelming favorite to win the 2010 BIG EAST championship in the conference’s annual preseason media poll.

The Panthers had 190 points in the preseason voting of media representatives from each of the eight BIG EAST markets. In addition to the 22 first-place votes, Pittsburgh had two second-place votes, making the Panthers the heaviest favorite in the preseason balloting since Louisville had 190 points in the 2005 poll.

Cincinnati and West Virginia tied for second in the preseason poll with both teams finishing with142 points. Cincinnati (12-1, 7-0 BIG EAST in 2009) has won the last two BIG EAST titles and brings an 18-game regular-season winning streak into 2010. West Virginia (9-4, 5-2 BIG EAST) has finished no lower than second in the BIG EAST standings in every year since 2002. B

A tight finish at the top of the preseason poll has Connecticut in fourth place – the highest preseason projection for the Huskies since they joined the BIG EAST.

Rutgerswas fifth in the preseason poll with 99 points as the Scarlet Knights aim for their sixth straight winning season and fifth consecutive bowl victory. Head coach Greg Schiano led Rutgers to a 9-4 record in 2010 (3-4 BIG EAST) behind a true freshman at quarterback in Tom Savage and another rookie as a big-play threat in wideout Mohamed Sanu.

USFhad 79 points to take sixth in the preseason poll. New head coach Skip Holtz inherits a team with 13 returning starters, including dual-threat quarterback B.J. Daniels.

Syracusewas seventh in the preseason poll with 41 points. The Orange (4-8, 1-6 BIG EAST) and head coach Doug Marrone bring back 16 starters from last year’s team, including nine from a defense that was the BIG EAST’s stingiest against the run in 2009. Defense also is the focus at Louisville, which was eighth in the preseason poll with 40 points. First-year head coach Charlie Strong won two BCS National Championships as Florida’s defensive coordinator and will turn to veteran linebacker Brandon Heath to lead the Cardinals (4-8, 1-6 BIG EAST) in 2010.

2010 BIG EAST FOOTBALL PRESEASON MEDIA POLL

Rank        Team                                  Pts.

1.            Pittsburgh (22)                  190

2.            Cincinnati                          142

                West Virginia (1)              142

4.            Connecticut (1)                131

5.            Rutgers                              99

6.            USF                                    79

7.            Syracuse                            41

8.            Louisville                          40

First Place Votes in Parentheses

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Despite three knee surgeries, Rutgers running back Kordell Young determined to play

Published: Monday, August 09, 2010, 7:30 AM

Tom Luicci/The Star-Ledger

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Saed Hindash/The Star-Ledger'I love football, and I feel like there’s still some play left in me,' says Kordell Young.

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Kordell Young could have easily packed away his football gear for good a while ago and everyone would have understood. Maybe not after the first knee surgery, because running backs routinely undergo at least one.

Probably not after the second knee operation, either.

But after the third? And after missing 23 of Rutgers’ 52 games his first four years, whether it was because he was waiting for surgery, recovering from it or rehabbing?

That’s when most people would have said enough is enough.

Not Young.

“I love football,†the 5-9, 190-pound tailback said, “and I feel like there’s still some play left in me. Right now I feel good. I’ve always been able to come back from the surgeries and I’ve been able to sprint and do all the things I was able to do before I got hurt. So I’m going to play as long as I can. I want to do this. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t keep coming back for more.â€

When Rutgers resumes preseason practice today — the school held its annual media day and then a fanfest Sunday — Young will be limited.

Nothing new there. It’s the story of his college career.

Even when he is ready to take on a larger workload, the fifth-year senior could find himself fitted into a strict role as the Knights’ third-down back in passing situations. Unless something changes dramatically, his days as a workhorse running back are over.

“I feel I’m more than a third-down back,†Young said. “But I know with the injuries that’s my starting point now. Maybe I can build off that if I prove I can handle more.â€

Young arrived in 2006 with the potential to be Ray Rice’s successor after rushing for 1,898 yards and averaging 12.5 yards per carry as a senior at West Deptford High, spurning Virginia late for Rutgers.

Then the knee injuries and surgeries hit. The first cut short his sophomore year after three games in 2007. He missed the first four games in 2008 because he was still recovering from that. Then he needed a second knee surgery after getting hurt in the Papajohns.com Bowl that year.

His 2009 season ended with a knee injury on Nov. 12 against South Florida that required yet another surgery.

That explains how one of the best running backs in state history has managed just 778 yards and eight touchdowns in four seasons. The 2008 Syracuse game, when he rushed for 143 yards on 29 carries for his only career 100-yard game, was the only glimpse Rutgers fans have had into how good Young could have been if he’d stayed healthy.

“That’s something I have to live with,†Young said. “I have to figure out why God put me in this position. But I won’t have any regrets. I won’t look back and say ‘I could have been this, I could have done that.’

“Because it is what it is. You’ve got to live with the circumstances you have. As long as I do the best I can with what I’ve been given, I can leave Rutgers satisfied. You can’t control injuries. You just have to deal with them.â€

Tom Luicci: tluicci@starledger.com

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Despite position depth, Brandon Bing looks to prove himself at cornerback

Published: Saturday, August 07, 2010, 11:00 AM

Tom Luicci/The Star-Ledger

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Frank H. Conlon/For The Star-LedgerBrandon Bing is determined not to let talented underclassmen push him out of the lineup.

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There were two ways Brandon Bing could have gone following his disappointing junior season last fall. The easy way would have been to sulk about losing his starting job at cornerback after just two games, blaming circumstances — and almost everyone else.

Or he could have used his abrupt demotion as motivation.

Bing chose the latter, which may explain why he was working with the starting secondary when Rutgers opened preseason practice yesterday — and why he is confident he will remain there, despite the looming presence of talented redshirt freshman Logan Ryan.

“I’d be a liar to say that (losing the starting job) didn’t drive me to work hard during the offseason,†Bing said. “Last year everybody was saying ‘the time is now, this is your time’ and this and that but it’s totally different now.

“But yes, that definitely drove me outside the things I already wanted to prepare and work on.â€

It started immediately after the St. Petersburg Bowl, too.

When Bing returned home for the Christmas holiday in previous years, he tried to forget about football. Not last Christmas.

“I took all of my individual (tapes) home with me during the Christmas break, and took a notepad and just wrote down everything I needed to do to improve,†the 5-11, 180-pounder from Wyncote, Pa., said. “And then I worked on that with some guys back home.

“I was so focused on getting better. I knew I wanted to start so I didn’t want to just enjoy my break and now get thrown right back to it. I made film the next day when we got back (from the bowl game). I made a 10-minute tape, all my one-on-ones and stuff like that, and watched it.â€

Bing said he then tried to apply what he learned with a couple of friends from home who are also college defensive backs: Rashad Campbell of Cornell and his brother, Ibraheim, who plays for Northwestern.

“They’re two very good friends of mine, and we just went out and competed, did some push-up contests and nothing really outside of sports,†Bing said. “Everything’s a competition, and it’s something I’ve been doing (with them) since I was 7.â€

Rutgers coach Greg Schiano has already noticed the difference in Bing.

“I think he’s just improved with his confidence, so he plays a little more relaxed,†Schiano said. “Early in his career he panicked more, and now he’s got more confidence because he’s played better. It’s the old Catch-22.â€

Bing’s battle with Ryan will be one of the most closely-watched position competitions leading up to the opener, since the starter will essentially be taking the place of first-round draft pick Devin McCourty opposite David Rowe.

“Me, Brandon, David — all the corners are very close. We all push for each other,†said Ryan, who clearly represents the future at the position for the Knights. “We’re trying to be the best secondary we can be. There’s a chance we can all play together nickel and dime so we don’t look at it as an awkward situation. We look at it as something we can boost each other with.â€

But for Bing, there’s a sense of urgency. This is his final season.

“My biggest concern is with my consistency,†he said. “If you ask Coach Schiano, he’ll say the same thing. If I keep that going, there’s no way I shouldn’t be playing.â€

Notes: Schiano said the handful of players with travel issues who didn’t report Thursday — he declined to name names — all arrived with the exception of walk-on defensive lineman Joe Falato of Lodi. “He will be here as soon as something gets cleared up. It’s a personal thing,†Schiano said.

Back-up QB Steve Shimko did not throw and was limited because of a shoulder injury, meaning more reps for true freshman Chas Dodd. ...Starting TB Joe Martinek appeared to suffer some sort of leg muscle strain during practice. “I don’t know,†Schiano said when asked what the injury was. “He tweaked something. We’ll see.â€

Tom Luicci: tluicci@starledger.com

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I must be a glutton for punishment by posting on this thread, but I couldn't help myself in this particular case. Some people here will understand.  ;)

August, 26, 2010 Aug 262:15PM

By Brian Bennett

David Rowe mans hot corner for Rutgers

Just about wherever Devin McCourty went last year, David Rowe made sure to follow.

Rowe wanted to soak up all the knowledge he could from Rutgers' star cornerback and future first-round NFL draft pick.

ncf_a_rowed_200.jpg

AP Photo/Mike Groll

David Rowe has the size and athletic ability to match up with larger receivers.

"He taught me all the little things," Rowe said. "Not big things like scheme, but just how to win those one-on-one battles and how receivers want to leverage you. It was all about the mentality of football."

Rowe also was McCourty's roommate the night before games and would lean on the veteran to help calm his nerves, especially before Rowe made his first career start against Florida International.

"He said all the right things to calm me down," Rowe said. "He'd say, 'Just go out there and have fun. Love what you're doing.'"

Flash forward to this season, and now it is Rowe who's the experienced Scarlet Knights cornerback. He's the one ready to give advice to younger players -- and Rutgers hopes, to play as well as McCourty did.

The junior recently was named as the team's best draft-eligible pro prospect by Mel Kiper. At 6-foot and 196 pounds, he's got excellent size for a corner and showed good coverage skills last season after moving into that starting role early. He had been a nickelback before that.

"That was a big step for me going, from nickel to outside, basically on an island," he said. "Each game throughout the year, I got better and more comfortable."

Rowe said he felt like he belonged when he grabbed his first career interception against Texas Southern and returned it 56 yards for a touchdown. He also had a pick against UConn.

The Rutgers secondary is young but talented, with redshirt freshman Logan Ryan battling Brandon Bing for the starting job at the other corner spot. Promising youngsters such as Darrell Givens, Brandon Jones and Lorenzo Waters make sure the defensive backfield is in good hands for the future.

"I think the secondary can expect a lot of big things this year," Rowe said. "We know the defense and what the offense wants to do to us. I think we can play with a lot of teams in the country."

And if any of the younger players need advice or a word of reassurance, Rowe is happy to pay back the favor.

http://espn.go.com/blog/bigeast/post/_/id/11535/david-rowe-mans-hot-corner-for-rutgers

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Your Rutgers football comments: Could Martinek and Thomas be a backfield tandem worthy of a nickname?

Published: Friday, August 27, 2010, 2:09 PM    Updated: Friday, August 27, 2010, 2:42 PM

NJ.com Staff

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John O'Boyle/The Star-LedgerTrue freshman Jordan Thomas is now No. 2 on the depth chart at RB. He was a sprinter in high school.

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As the Star-Ledger's Dave Hutchinson is quick to point out in his article about the fourth-year senior pounder (Joe Martinek) and the true freshman speedster (Jordan Thomas), this pair hasn't played a down together yet. But suddenly, they're 1-2 on the depth chart, and also suddenly Thomas created some welcome excitement last weekend into the search for a No. 2 back by having a breakout scrimmage. Maybe this duo could be the backfield tandem fans have been looking for since Leonard-Rice.

NJ.com Rutgers fans seem interested in discussing whether the emergence of a speedy RB might turn Joe Martinek into a fullback. That's part of the following exchange,

From NJ.com Rutgers fan njruknight:

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Rutgers' Antonio Lowery looking forward to Florida trip in regular season

Published: Thursday, August 26, 2010, 7:00 AM

Tom Luicci/The Star-Ledger

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Robert Sciarrino/The Star-LedgerAntonio Lowery's mother has never seen her son play a college football game in person.

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NOTEBOOK

Antonio Lowery knows the golden rule of football: Never look beyond the next game. But there are times when a player does have to plan ahead.

Rutgers’ second game of the season, at Florida International on Sept. 11, is one of those times.

That game will be in Miami, Lowery’s hometown. It will mark the first time his mother will get to see him play college football.

“It’s going to be exciting for me,†he said. “The only reason I’m even thinking about it now — I know our focus is supposed to be on Norfolk State (next Thursday’s opener) — is because I need to get tickets. I might need 50, maybe more.â€

Lowery, Rutgers’ starting weakside linebacker, has only returned to his home state of Florida twice for a game in his college career. The first time, at South Florida in Tampa in 2008, Lowery was a reserve and special teams player.

The second time was last year’s St. Petersburg Bowl. The 6-2, 225-pounder was sidelined then by a groin injury, after starting eight games.

“My grandma came to the bowl game, but I was hurt,†said Lowery, Rutgers’ leading returning tackler with 55. “My mom has never seen me play a game in person. I can’t tell you how much me and my little brother (Antwan, Rutgers’ backup right guard) are looking forward to playing in Miami.â€

Lowery, who loves to cook and calls banana pudding “my go-to dish,†said he has already told his mom and grandmother to have the good South Florida cuisine ready.

“I’ve already put in a request for conch — lots of conch,†he said.

Kordell Young, who is set as the team’s third-down back, was not at practice for a second straight day Wednesday, but head coach Greg Schiano said it was not related to the fifth-year senior’s recovery from his third knee operation.

“He’s got some issues he’s got to take care of at home,†said Schiano, who added he expected Young back when the team starts game-week preparation on Saturday.

Center Howard Barbieri said he is over the problems he had with errant shotgun snaps last week.

“I got it corrected,†he said. “I was getting a little frustrated because I know I can do it. For a couple of days there I couldn’t. So it was frustrating.

“I think it was just a mental thing. I was thinking about it too much.â€

Barbieri, a fifth-year senior who has played guard and tackle before moving into the starting lineup at center for the first time this season, said he was aware that Jets’ center Nick Mangold recently signed a $55 million contract — a sign centers are finally getting their financial due.

“Good timing on my part, moving to center,†he said.

No changes on the injury front, although Schiano seemed encouraged that freshman tailback Casey Turner (groin) might return soon. The players have today and Friday off before returning to practice Saturday.

Tom Luicci: tluicci@starledger.com

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