The 2014 role for JuCo offensive lineman Cal Ibanez will be determined by what he shows this summer. A 6-foot-5, 310-pound addition from Fullerton (Calif.) Junior College, Ibanez is set to arrive for summer classes and workouts this week.
Ibanez called his path to Rutgers the pursuit of a dream. And whether that role starts on the bench as a red-shirt or an instant impact lineman, head coach Kyle Flood can expect a commitment to winning from his newest addition.
"I'm not a big talker, but I try to lead by example," Ibanez said. "I'm a guy that's going to show up every day. I've never missed a practice in my life. Ever since I started playing football, I always show up. I always do what I need to do. If I can help the younger guys along the way, I'm happy.
"I'm not promising anything, but I'm going to come in and work hard. My goal is the same as our goal as a team. I'm going to come in and try to help them win a Big Ten Championship above all else."
Ibanez enrolled at Fullerton after not receiving heavy college interest out of Miami (Fla.) John Ferguson. He played two years at Fullerton, and helped lead the program to a championship appearance as a sophomore.
Rutgers identified Ibanez late in the process, and inked him after an early May official visit.
"It's been such a long process for me," Ibanez said. "I came out all the way to California to chase a dream of playing Division I football. I was just a kid from Miami that wanted the opportunity to do something with my life. I finally got to the point where I wanted to be. Rutgers was the place I wanted to be, and I can't wait."
Ibanez is eager to start classes at Rutgers, which began Tuesday in the first summer session.
With a 48-hour official visit as his only gauge, Ibanez remains unfamiliar with Rutgers. His aunt attended the school, and he has two siblings at school in nearby New York.
"I know that they're going in the Big Ten and I'm excited for that," Ibanez said. "I'm going to be back on the East Coast, and that's big. My family will get to come see me play. I'm excited to be closer to family and to play at Rutgers."
Summer conditioning is the next test for Ibanez, who has already dropped 10 pounds since committing to Rutgers.
"I was talking with [fullback] Michael Burton during my visit and I asked him about what conditioning will be like," Ibanez said. "I'm doing it every day. I'm hitting the weight room, and practicing with their conditioning schedule on top of what I normally do. Right now, I'm down to about 310, and I want to get to 300 pounds by the time the season starts. I'm right on track."
Ibanez has sights set on early playing time after conversations with the coaching staff.
"I'm super excited," he said. "I've been working since the end of the season to get my weight down. The coaches told me that I was going to come in and they were going to give me an opportunity to play, whether it be guard or tackle."