They’re Baaaaack: Rutgers Ready For The Next Level

By Richard Kent
Updated: August 12, 2007

Ray Rice

Ray Rice

CONNECTICUT — College football recruiting is getting fast and furious and no team in the country has made more waves than Rutgers. Yes, Rutgers. Coming off of two very good seasons, the Scarlet Knights are mixing it up with the likes of Tennessee, LSU, and Boston College and winning for the services of top players.

Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano is one of the top recruiters in the country. There’s little if any doubt about that. His top assistants are also great recruiters.

They just reeled in D.C. Jefferson from Florida. The 6-foot-6, 230-pound quarterback chose Rutgers over virtually all the top programs in the country. He knew he wanted to be a Scarklet Knight as soon as he stepped on the campus.

Located in New Brunswick, N.J., the Scarlet Knights play their football games in Piscataway. Despite having won the first college football game ever over former arch rival Princeton, Rutgers has had little history to distinguish itself in football.

In 1976, Rutgers went undefeated and beat Colgate on national television at Giants Stadium, but didn’t go to a bowl game. Last year, Rutgers throttled Kansas State in the Texas Bowl. This was a Kansas State team that had beaten Texas earlier in the season.

Rutgers is ranked 16th in the USA Today Preseason Coaches’ Top 25 Poll and many expect them to finish higher. Junior Ray Rice (1,794 yards, 20 TDs) is a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate at running back.

Junior Mike Teel (164 of 296, 2,135 yards, 12 TDs) has proven that he can win at quarterback. Sophomore Kenny Britt (29 catches, 440 yards, 2 TDs) is also one of the top receivers in the country.

Last year, Rutgers defeated Louisville on national television in the highest-rated ESPN game ever in the New York area. They fell to West Virginia narrowly in the last game of the season, but won the respect of virtually all college football fans in the country.

This year, Rutgers plays eight home games and has West Virginia at home. The Scarlet Knights have been picked third in the Big East behind the Mountaineers and Cardinals. They are ahead of the Bulls of South Florida, also a strong team.

Every Rutgers’ home game is sold out. That was unheard of years ago. The West Virginia ticket is one of the hottest tickets in the country. The game is expected to be on national television.

The Scarlet Knights will play very few games on Saturday afternoons. Fans may not like it, but the television people do. Right now, Rutgers is one of the hottest college football commodities on television. They’ll even play Army on national television on the road. There are also plans to expand Rutgers Stadium after the season ends.

Rutgers also has a long term contract with Notre Dame and there has been talk about playing Michigan and USC. All college football fans should watch out for the Scarlet Knights this season.

They will be playing in August, but they will almost certainly be playing in January as well. It is tough to believe, but it is true. Rutgers has become a real powerhouse in college football.