Hendrikson Leads Rutgers' Early Enrollees

Rutgers welcomed five early enrollees to campus by officially announcing them Tuesday. The talented group is led by junior college center Dallas Hendrikson, who got into town last week. Before enrolling at Rutgers, he spoke to ScarletReport.com about his new school, his expectations and more.

Rarely does an offensive lineman energize a fan base in the recruiting success, but Dallas Hendrikson found that to be the case when he committed to Rutgers last month.

Even the modest Hendrikson, a 6-foot-1, 295-pounder from Iowa Western Community College, acknowledged the unexpectedness of his situation.

He was one of five players to begin their Rutgers career Tuesday, enrolling in classes and officially becoming a member of the Scarlet Knights.

"It seems like everyone is excited for me to be here and get me," Hendrikson said late last week. "It's nice to feel welcome."

Hendrikson was recruited to Rutgers to be the starting center, a position he will begin competing for immediately.

Also enrolling were defensive end Djwayn Mera and defensive tackle Kenneth Kirksey, both of whom spent post-graduate years at military academies, as well as punter Anthony DiPaula and cornerback Johnathan Aiken.

While each player should compete for playing time immediately, the spotlight is on Hendrikson because of Rutgers' offensive woes last season. Hendrikson is a cog in rebuilding the offensive line, and is a natural center.

He said he did not speak with new offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti or look at the playbook after signing his national letter of intent last month, but he isn't concerned about learning a new offense.

"It'll be tough at first, but the guys seem great here and I'll get used to it fast, I think," said Hendrikson, who prepped at St. Ansgar (Iowa) High. "It was tough (leaving home), but I have good support from everybody, so it'll be all right."

Although players didn't have to report until Monday, Hendrikson arrived in town last week after making the drive from Iowa with his parents.

"I went to the Hale Center and (had to) take care of a physical," Hendrikson said. "I've moved into the apartments and just have to get some school stuff figured out. That's about it."

Since committing to Rutgers on Dec. 14, Rutgers added a pair of high-profile commitments in four-star receiver Miles Shuler of Long Branch (N.J.) High and three-star quarterback Gary Nova of Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey, N.J.).

"Personally, I didn't follow the recruiting a whole lot, but I know my dad followed it quite a bit," Hendrikson said. "He told me they landed a pretty good quarterback."

As Hendrikson adapts to college in the northeast and tries to bond with his new teammates, he knows what he will do in the coming days, beyond going to classes.

"Probably lifting weights," he said. "It's a good way to meet guys and find out who people are. You can develop friendships pretty quickly."

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