Carroo Has Breakout Opener in Expanded Role

Sophomore Leonte Carroo saw the field as a freshman, did not record a catch and made his greatest impact on special teams. That changed in the 2013 opener when the former four-star recruit exploded for three touchdowns and 135 yards in a 52-51 loss to Fresno State.

The secret is out on Leonte Carroo.

The 6-foot-2 receiver that went without a catch as a true freshman exploded onto the scene Thursday night against Fresno State. With a five-catch, 135-yard night, Carroo reached the end zone three times in a stellar personal performance.

Carroo's breakout, however, came in a losing 52-51 effort.

"You know it was a great game by me but I'd rather have the win," Carroo said in the lockeroom at around 3 a.m. east coast time. "Any day of the week. I made a couple of mistakes out there too. The touchdowns were the touchdowns, but I'd rather win any day."

Carroo is not new to wide receiver, nor is he new to playing with high-school teammate Gary Nova at quarterback.

The two rekindled the childhood connection in Fresno, which is one of many positive signs Carroo saw in the loss.

"We have a lot of toughness," Carroo said. "Going on the road and playing a great team like Fresno State and going into overtime, they did a tremendous job. But we beat ourselves. We're going to come back from this. We're going to bounce back from this and we're going to come out stronger."

Carroo went down with cramps shortly after his third touchdown gave Rutgers the lead with 90 seconds to play. He saved a touchdown return with a tackle on the following kickoff and stayed down with bad cramps.

Quickly rehydrating, Carroo was back out for overtime and expects to have no issues moving forward.

"Emotionally, I'm a little hurt," Carroo said. "I definitely wanted to go out there and get a win. Physically, I started cramping up in the fourth quarter but I was going to stay in the game and do anything to help my team win this game. Right now I'm down, but there's always more room for improvement. Next time we practice, we're going to go out there and watch the film and get better."

Carroo is not the first Rutgers receiver to break out in his first significant action. Exclusively a special teams contributor last season, Carroo's primary receiver review ranks among the tops in Rutgers history.

Other Memorable Debuts

Mohamed Sanu – Sept. 7, 2009 vs. Cincinnati. A game Rutgers fans would rather forget, Sanu had an explosive second half in his first game since playing as a junior at South Brunswick High School. Sanu caught 10 passes for 101 yards and a two-point conversion from true freshman Tom Savage. He finished his freshman year with a bowl MVP trophy, eight total touchdowns and 985 yards from scrimmage.

Kenny Britt – Nov. 9, 2006 vs. Louisville. Britt sat out the first half of his true freshman season, but his second on-field game was the biggest win in school history. The future first round NFL draft pick caught two passes for 82 yards that night, including a 67-yarder to set up a Ray Rice touchdown.

Mark Harrison – Oct. 31, vs. Connecticut. This game will be remembered for its thrilling ending and honoring Jasper Howard, but it was also Harrison's coming out moment as a freshman. Harrison put Rutgers ahead 21-10 with a 20-yard touchdown in the corner of the Rentschler Field south end zone.

Tim Brown – Dec. 28, 2006 vs. Kansas State. Brown played 10 games for Rutgers as a freshman. His true breakout, however, came in a bowl game performance that likely still gives Ron Prince nightmares. Finishing with four catches, for 101 yards and two touchdowns, Brown foreshadowed the speed he would use as a senior to carry a young Rutgers offense in 2009.


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