Notebook: Flood Readies for Signing Day

PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Rutgers head coach Kyle Flood is in the home stretch with just two days until National Signing Day. Focused on finishing the 2013 recruiting class, Flood spoke with the media today about his five early enrolled freshmen and everything else leading up to Signing Day.

PISCATAWAY, N.J. – The final 48 hours leading up to National Signing Day remain the focus for Rutgers coach Kyle Flood, but the search for an offensive coordinator is ongoing.

Following the departure of Dave Brock to Delaware, Flood is in week three of his search for an offensive coordinator, which is nearing an end.

"I'm going to speak to a couple more people this week and I'm hoping to have it wrapped up soon," Flood said. "I don't think it will be before Wednesday, but I think soon after that we'll have a coordinator in place."

NCAA Rule Changes

Come Aug. 1, the NCAA rule changes in recruiting go into effect, which allows coaches to have dramatically increased contact with high school prospects. Coaches, including graduate assistants, will be able to make unlimited phone calls and text messages during contact periods.

"I don't know if that's a positive for us or for the players to be honest with you, to start the calls as early as we're going to start them next year" Flood said. "But the rules are the rules. We certainly have to maximize what we do within them."

Parts of the rule changes, however, make recruiting easier on all sides, Flood said.

"[The text messaging] won't be as much of a change," Flood said. "… I think that's a rule where we've caught up a little bit to the times."

Quarterback Chris Laviano

Out of Holy Trinity (Hicksville, N.Y.), Laviano is the first quarterback to enroll early since Steve Shimko in 2009. Laviano was a top 2013 target of former coach Greg Schiano and became one even more so when Flood took over last year.

"I really believe for a quarterback, it's a tremendous advantage," Flood said. "I think through the course of your career, to gain that extra spring practice is invaluable to have that spring practice before you get to your first training camp. The tempo in spring is a much better teaching environment from the fall, where you practice and then you have a day off where you have meetings."

With four quarterbacks ahead of him and Nova only a junior, Flood does not expect Laviano to make an immediate push, but has hopes of legitimate competition at the quarterback position this spring.

"I would like to see them all compete," Flood said. "I think that's one of the great things about spring. We absolutely have starters, but as I've said to every player on the team – at the end of spring, if there is somebody who is better served to help us win football games than you are, they will start."

Running back Dontea Ayres

Ayres is a serious contender to play right away as a true freshman. With Jawan Jamsion headed to the NFL Combine and Savon Huggins penciled in as the starter, Ayres has hopes to contribute early.

"If Savon is there as a starter, there's not a lot of proven commodities behind him," Flood said. "Dontea has a unique opportunity at that position."

Ayres did not play as a senior because of a torn meniscus, but will be 100 percent for spring practice.

Linebacker Lester Liston

Liston will learn multiple positions in the spring, but projects best as a middle linebacker. Jamal Merrell is the incumbent at strongside linebacker and Kevin Snyder will start at either middle or weak.

Because of Snyder's flexibility, Flood said the final spot depends on which linebacker steps up best at either middle or on the outside.

"We have some flexibility there because Kevin Snyder can play the WILL; Kevin Snyder can play the MIKE," Flood said. "So we really have to find out who's going to be the next best player and then plug that guy into one of those two spots."

Liston is expected to compete for immediate time, alongside Quenton Gause, Steve Longa and Quanzell Lambert.

"His (Liston's) highlight tape was one of the more impressive things I've seen this year and he's a physical guy," Flood said. "He should be able to do more than just play linebacker for us."

Cornerback Nadir Barnwell

The next in a long line of Piscataway to Rutgers players, Barnwell will be limited in the spring because of shoulder surgery.

"I don't think he's going to be contact in the spring, but I think he'll be running around," Flood said. "He'll have a helmet on. He'll be able to do certain drills, other drills he won't be able to do this spring. But he's another guy that's going to have an opportunity in the secondary, but we won't know enough about him in the spring because he won't be full go."

Barnwell, who won MVP honors at the Semper-Fi all-star game prior to his surgery, said he is happy to leave quarterback behind and focus on playing defense."

Cornerback Delon Stephenson

Rutgers is down its top three cornerbacks from 2012 and is in desperate need of depth at the position. The brother of sophomore defensive tackle Daryl Stephenson, expect Delon Stephenson to throw his name in the hat instantly.

"Delon Stephenson is going to have an immediate opportunity, and he's a little bit older obviously going to prep school for a year," Flood said. "He's a guy who comes in here as a do-everything guy in high school, played corner at the prep school, and now is going to have an opportunity to come in and compete immediately. Not only are we going to have to find who our corners are going to be with all three of our top corners moving on, but we're going to need to find who comes in nickel and who comes in dime."

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