19 in 19: RB Savon Huggins

ScarletReport.com begins its "19 in 19" series to profile each of the incoming freshmen, and it begins with five-star running back Savon Huggins. The 6-foot, 200-pound Huggins was the most publicized and well-known recruit to sign with Rutgers during coach Greg Schiano's tenure. Huggins spoke to ScarletReport.com about expectations, the offense and much more.

In early March, Rutgers all-time leading rusher and NFL star running back Ray Rice gave his thoughts on St. Peter's Prep (Jersey City, N.J.) running back Savon Huggins' ability.

Rice tossed many compliments toward Huggins, including saying "he's got raw ability" and an "uncanny ability to make a play."

In less than three weeks, Huggins will enroll at Rutgers for the first summer session, and so will begin the career of the highest-profiled recruit in coach Greg Schiano's Rutgers tenure with expectations that promise to border on insane.

Not that Huggins pays much attention to those expectations.

"I don't even bother with them," the 6-foot, 200-pound Huggins said. "When you start thinking about that, that's when you start messing up. I'm just going out there to play and have fun. There's no shame …you're a freshman, everybody goes through (struggles), no matter how high of a prospect you are, you're going to do things you've never done before. That's what I'm doing.

"I'm starting all over again. I have to prove myself like every other freshman did, regardless of who I am."

Who Huggins is makes him known to even the most pedestrian Rutgers fan, and a beacon of hope for die-hards who believe Rutgers finally landed the type of in-state player who can pave the way for so many other of the state's top players to remain home.

He is a five-star recruit, Scout.com's No. 4 running back in the 2011 class, and a player who, literally, could have chosen any school in the nation.

In fact, he is so well known, Rice said he checked out Huggins' highlight tape, and former Rutgers quarterback Mike Teel said he got caught up in waiting for Huggins to decide.

"I heard about it," Huggins said of Rice's comments. "It's a blessing to be even in the same category as someone like that, who plays in the league and knows what it takes. It shows my hard work is paying off and all the work I put in all these years. It humbles me. I feel like I have more to offer. It's like, ‘all right, now I have people in the NFL saying this is what they like about me.'

"I'm going to keep working and working to get better so I can be better than he was, and I know that's what he wants from me."

Huggins ran for more than 1,900 yards and 35 touchdowns as a senior, was the state's Gatorade Player of the Year and also played in the Under Armour all-American game.

A big factor in his recruitment was Rutgers' decision to return to a pro-style offense, which was implemented during spring practice.

A busy track schedule kept Huggins from attending most of the practices, but he was still a regular on campus. He visited for a pair of practices, and was at the Hale Center to work out and meet with the coaching staff several times a week.

"It's good to sit there with the players and watch film, and see what they go through to get ready for practice because I'm going to be there," said Huggins, who explained what he learned watching practice. "Mental reps. I would go out there and talk to the running backs coach, talk to the players, and ask questions about this play and that play.

"That's all I could do. I (couldn't) go out there and play, but I could still learn. I (was) learning different plays, talking to the players about what to expect, what plays to run."

Huggins also saw a difference in the Scarlet Knights because of the offensive system being run.

"I see almost a new life in the team," he said. "Now, people can be themselves, and do what they want to do, and what they came to the school for in the first place. Now, everybody is like, ‘Ok, now we can go out there and ball.'

"Before it was like, ‘Ok, I have to listen to what (the offensive coordinator) tells me to do, but that's not what I did growing up, so I'm kind of uncomfortable.' Now, they're doing something they want to do, so it's that much better."

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