Notes: Deering, Abreu and Thomas

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Rutgers is getting contributions from a number of young players, and one of them is freshman receiver Jeremy Deering. He has seven catches in the last two games, and he talks about gaining a comfort level with his position switch. Also, linebacker Manny Abreu talks about his high confidence level, and running back Jordan Thomas speaks about his blocking skills.

By Brian Dohn PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Jeremy Deering approximated he took 26 snaps while playing receiver as a senior at Tampa's Leto High.

Until the season opener against Norfolk State, Deering said those were the only snaps at receiver he took in his career.

So, it is no wonder it took Deering, a running back and quarterback in high school, time to adjust to the position. He enters Saturday's game against Army as Rutgers' fourth-leading receiver, coming off a three-catch, 102-yard performance in the win against Connecticut and with his confidence swelling. In the last two games, Deering has seven receptions.

"I was not getting open because I didn't play receiver and I didn't know what I was doing," Deering said. "Once I started getting the hang of it, the more I learned, the more I got open."

Deeering's eight catches in five games may not seem like much, but it would have ranked him fifth overall and third among receivers (behind Tim Brown and Mohamed Sanu) at the conclusion of last season.

Deering said the quick adjustment comes from work with receivers coach P.J. Fleck.

"(Fleck) showed me how to do things and I get open," Deering said. "I watch a good amount film. I really didn't know what to expect, but it's a lot more than I watched in high school."

And what is the toughest part about the transition to receiver?

"Route-running …and blocking is different, too," Deering said. "In the open field, you have to go get them. It's a little harder."

Manny being Manny

One of the nice surprises of the first half of the season is the contributions of starting strong-side linebacker Manny Abreu, who made a career-high 10 tackles last week. He is fifth on the team with 29 tackles, and second with 3 ½ tackles for loss.

The strong performances has pushed Abreu's confidence to an unprecedented level.

"This is as high as it's been," he said. "All the things the coaches have been talking to me about, and in talking to other players and seeing what I can relate to, it's finally clicking and I can understand where they're coming from and what they're saying …and see that it's true if you do this and do that, you will have success."

And Abreu's on-field success is driving him more.

"It makes me work a lot harder,' Abreu said. "I'm not worried that I have to do this, I have to do that. I know what I'm supposed to do."

No doubting Thomas

In dissecting the issues of the running game, Rutgers coach Greg Schiano said not all the blame falls on the offensive line because the running backs are sometimes missing holes.

One of those backs, freshman Jordan Thomas, said he spends plenty of time in the film room watching his runs to better understand where he can help the Scarlet Knights improve in the running game.

"In general, I'm nitpicky with what I do," Thomas said. "I think I do a good job of working on the details in a game. I'm a freshman. Mistakes are going to happen. I just have to work on them and go back in practice and do it."

Thomas acknowledged his talks to his family often, and credits them with one of the reasons he hasn't lost confidence in what is a mentally grinding few months with his transition to college and also playing as a true freshman.

Among the many changes in his game is with his blocking. For the first time in his life, he has to do it a lot.

"It's a certain type of attitude," Thomas said. "I don't think anyone likes blocking, but it's something you have to do during the game, so you have to perfect it. You have to keep your elbows in and hands out."

More Thomas One thing overlooked by many last week was Thomas' first career fumble, which the Scarlet Knights recovered.

Making sure it doesn't happen again was a focal point throughout the week of practice.

"High and tight," Thomas said about holding the football. "Squeeze it."

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