Relaxed Huggins Ready to Run

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Rutgers freshman Savon Huggins was a much different runner in the win against Pittsburgh than he was the first month of the season. He spoke to about how he turned things around, building toward Saturday's game against Navy and which teammate helped clear his mind.

PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Savon Huggins darted through a seam in the left side of the line of scrimmage, ran through an arm tackle and was eight yards up field before he was hit. He then picked up three more yards.

It was an 11-yard run that took a few seconds late in the third quarter, but it was something that foreshadows what the Rutgers' true freshman running back is capable of doing.

It could wind up being the moment it all came together for the most famous recruit in coach Greg Schiano's Rutgers tenure.

"I was more relaxed," Huggins said while looking ahead to Saturday's homecoming contest against Navy. "I was playing my game. I didn't think. I just went out there and played. I was decisive with my cuts and I wasn't pitter-pattering in the hole. I made one cut and got up field."

The burst Huggins showed on the run was matched by the burst he let out after it.

It was his way of releasing a month's worth of frustration in which he went from training camp standout to two-fumble running back against Ohio, to a four-carry, five-yard running back in the Big East opener at Syracuse.

It even got to the point where the usually unflappable Huggins admitted the three-game stretch leading into the Pittsburgh win was like nothing he experienced in his career. Not in Pop Warner, and certainly not during a decorated career at St. Peter's Prep in Jersey City, N.J.

"It really shocked me a little bit," Huggins said. "It happens. I felt it was a test, and I'm still going through that test right now, and it's still a learning process."

Rutgers junior receiver Mohamed Sanu, who was instrumental in Huggins' recruitment because of the friendship they build, talked to him about getting past his difficulties.

"I could tell (he was struggling)," Sanu said. "I just told him, ‘Look, this is what you've been doing your whole life. You can't change what you've been doing your whole life because one time it didn't go the way you planned.' I told him he just had to keep fighting."

Huggins fought again early in the fourth quarter when his 3-yard touchdown run cemented the win. The three yards came after contact, may have established Huggins as Rutgers' goal line running back, and was followed by another outpouring of excitement by the usually reserved Huggins.

Huggins said it was mostly his teammates, with some input from his family, helping him get through a three-game stretch in which he carried 16 times for 15 yards and fumbled three times leading into the Pittsburgh game.

"Everybody around me stayed positive," Huggins said. "Before, I didn't know (how to handle it) because it never happened to me. It was like, ‘Wow, it's a shock.' Now, it's real. It makes you appreciate the ups and downs and not take anything for granted because as fast as it's there, it can be taken from you.

"It's what you do when no one is looking that builds your character."

Huggins finished the Pittsburgh game with a modest 42 yards on 10 carries, but the fan base got its first glimpses of how good Huggins can be.

"It was a learning experience," said Huggins, who has all four of Rutgers' rushing touchdowns. "Everything was going so fast, but everything is starting to slow down and I'm starting to be more comfortable in the scheme, I'm starting to be more patient, not to rush things and to run with a better pad level.

"Coaches were telling me I ran with a better pad level in the last game, and to continue to work on the little things that will help me in the long run."

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