Big Ten Bound: Receivers & Tight Ends

Rutgers football ended 2013 with the disappointment of a bowl loss at Yankee Stadium and a losing record, but has every reason to be excited for 2014. Arguably the national champion of conference realignment, the Scarlet Knights are set to join the Big Ten, and is here to look ahead position by position.

Today looks in-depth at the receivers and tight ends. Rutgers lost some seasoned faces in both groups, but the biggest play-makers will be back to lead the Scarlet Knights into the Big Ten. Injuries and quarterback inconsistency prevented receivers from reaching their full potential in 2013.

In 2013

What Went Right -- Leonte Carroo certainly went right. To folks not familiar with Rutgers, Carroo was one of the biggest surprises of the year. From a special teamer in 2012, Carroo exploded against Fresno State and did not look back. He caught three game winners in the fourth quarter or overtime – all on the same play.

All-Conference sophomore Tyler Kroft was not far behind. Kroft stepped up his blocking, which got him a starting job, and took full advantage of an offensive game plan centered around first downs at the tight end position. He led Rutgers in catches (43) and yards (473).

The receiver class of 2012 shined bright this season, with red-shirt freshman Ruhann Peele catching as many passes as Carroo (28) and adding 248 yards and a touchdown. Peele did this while splitting practice time and game reps at cornerback.

Quron Pratt was the perfect example of a senior playing his best football. The 2013 team MVP finished third on the roster with 516 yards and was the best blocker of the position group.

As a group, drops were down and receivers did a better job of getting open.

What Went Wrong -- Coleman's pre-spring injury changed everything for Rutgers. Instead of a walking mis-match and deep threat, the Scarlet Knights had a slower Coleman that struggled with catches in tight windows and in the red zone.

With Coleman not at 100 percent, Rutgers eventually found Kroft as its top weapon and relied on Carroo for some late-game heroics. Rutgers went through spurts where Carroo became a non-factor and his late-season injury did not help the passing game. Rutgers needed more consistency in blocking from its receivers, which missed out on big gains in the screen game.

With Carroo injured and a change to Chas Dodd at quarterback, Rutgers threw for three touchdowns, five picks and 207 yards per game.

Heading to the Big Ten

Reason for Excitement -- Carroo and Kroft are back as the two biggest weapons for Rutgers, and young guns like Andre Patton, Nick Arcidiacono and Carlton Agudosi now have legitimate experience. Rutgers also has Saeed Blacknall expected to sign with the Scarlet Knights.

Grant made a major impact on special teams as a true freshman, and it is logical to expect a similar step forward to the one made by Carroo in his second year. Grant's type of speed cannot be coached, and can be a significant weapon in the Big Ten.

Cause for Concern -- Receivers and tight ends rely on a quarterback that can run the offense, and quarterback remains the primary question mark for spring practice and the 2014 season. The tight end position is looking up with Kroft's eligibility and strong recruiting in the last two classes. Receiver has plenty of depth, but is missing a consistent impact option. Carroo needs to become a more consistent target with Coleman gone.

The best Rutgers offenses have had a top receiver with consistency – Coleman, Tim Brown, Kenny Britt and Mohamed Sanu.

New Year's Resolution -- Offensive coordinator Ron Prince is not afraid of creativity, but Rutgers did very little with its receivers in terms of thinking outside of the box. Speed is a proven weakness against traditional Big Ten defenses, so Rutgers should use its Florida athletes like Grant in more creative ways – jet sweeps and reverses a few times a game does not hurt anybody and keeps defenses honest.

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