Mid-Season Superlatives

Though it seems the games just started, Rutgers is halfway through the regular season. With the Scarlet Knights' 4-2 record going into a bye weekend, ScarletReport.com hands out mid-season superlatives including the team's MVP, freshman of the year and play of the year.

Team MVP -- QB Gary NovaRutgers lived and died bye Nova's production through the first half of the season but role on the roster is more irreplaceable than Nova's. Rutgers almost had to learn that the hard way against Arkansas after his concussion. Nova's four-interception game in the loss to Louisville was a driving force, but the same can be said about huge late-game showings against Fresno State, Arkansas and SMU. The mistakes will still be there in the second half, but if he can avoid a downward spiral, then Rutgers has a legitimate shot at a 10-2 finish. Nova's 57 percent completion clip is slightly ahead of expectations to go along with 14 touchdowns, eight interceptions and 1,373 yards. Honorable Mentions: MLB Steve Longa, RB Paul James.

Offensive Player of the Year -- RB Paul James -- Even though he missed two games and will miss Houston, James had a handful of breakout statistical games and led the nation in rushing through the first four weeks. James has 573 yards and six touchdowns already to his name in 2013 and, should he return against Temple as expected, is on pace to crush Jawan Jamison's numbers from last season.Honorable Mentions: Nova, WR Leonte Carroo, TE Tyler Kroft.

Defensive Player of the Year -- MLB Steve Longa – The talented red-shirt freshman is the closest thing on the 2013 roster to what Khaseem Greene did as a senior. Longa quickly emerged as a defensive general and tackle machine. His 61 tackles lead the program by a large margin, and his value in pass rush has him first in TFLs (six) and second in sacks (three). Honorable Mention: DE Marcus Thompson.

Most Improved Player -- TE Tyler Kroft – Coming to Rutgers as essentially a slow receiver, Kroft put himself to work in the weight room and in the film room, emerging as a 240-pound playmaker. Kroft had to add weight and improve blocking technique before getting the chance for real on-field action. The transformation took shape in the first half of 2013, where the red-shirt sophomore now has 268 yards and three touchdowns. He is second on the team in catches and receiving touchdowns and third in yardage. Statistically, Kroft ranks seventh in the nation at his position. Honorable Mentions: LT Keith Lumpkin, James, Carroo, DE Djwany Mera, OLB Quentin Gause.

True Freshman of the Year -- CB Nadir Barnwell – A tough call with so many impact players through six games, but the consistency from Barnwell at a young position stands out. Barnwell brings the most current value of any true freshman after two huge losses at his position during the bye week. Barnwell experienced lows against Louisville, including a late benching for classmate Anthony Cioffi, but is a good tackler and one of the better members of a struggling defensive secondary. Honorable Mentions: RB Justin Goodwin, KR Janarion Grant.

Comeback Player of the Year -- DE David Milewski – What Milewski is doing as a fourth-year player is nothing short of inspiring after three torn ACLs. Instead of going the medical retirement route, Milewski remained vigilant and is now arguably the most productive defensive lineman on the roster. Milewski not only brings on-field production with 17 tackles a sack and two fumble recovers, but he is a locker room leader.

Best Position Change -- Steve Longa to MLB – Longa spent high school and his red-shirt year as an outside linebacker and the transition to learning the plays was tough during spring practice. Spending time in the Hale Center with his coaching staff and on the phone with Steve Beauharnais of the New England Patriots, Longa caught on by the summer and transformed into the most valuable piece of the Rutgers defense. Honorable Mentions: Mera to DE, Tejay Johnson to safety.

Commit Rutgers could use this season -- CB Kam Lott – Really any cornerback will do here. Rutgers is down Ian Thomas and Lew Toler, running short on bodies at the position. Rutgers gets a burst of talent in the defensive secondary going into the Big Ten with the additions of Lott, Lamont Simmons, Saquan Hampton and four-star safety Kiy Hester.

Play of the Year -- Justin Goodwin's 17-yard winner in 3OT – The SMU game never needed to get that far, but Goodwin ended the drama with a stellar 17-yard touchdown run to win the game. Goodwin shook two defenders in the backfield before bringing the run outside and spinning off a third would-be tackler for the score. Rutgers had plenty of big plays in its first six games, but this one literally won a conference game. Honorable Mentions: Carroo scores from 33 yards out on 4th and long against Arkansas, Cioffi sacks and strips Teddy Bridgewater, Grant's first career touch goes for 100 yards against Fresno state.

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