The Rutgers summer program began Tuesday when players returned to campus for classes and workouts. Adding freshman Dre Boggs to the mix, Rutgers is officially back at it with one month left until Big Ten membership.
"It's always one of the more exciting weeks of the year -- a lot of energy," said head coach Kyle Flood. "Now, with the new rule changes, we're allowed to watch them in the weight room a little bit. I was down there for a couple minutes today. To see them moving around at the tempo they're moving with (strength and conditioning) coach (Jeremy) Cole, it was exciting for everybody to have them back."
The offseason program for Rutgers includes personalized workouts and lifting sessions handed out from Cole and the staff. The players hold their own 7-on-7 work and attend classes.
NCAA rules prevent the coaching staff from running any football activities until training camp, but changes allow for classroom time between the players and the coaching staff.
Rutgers has a new conference for which to game plan, and plans to take advantage of extra time.
"I know people look at training camp as the start of the season, but I think, now because of the structure, really the summer program is the start of the season because we will go for about nine weeks and then we will get about five or six days off and then we'll start training camp," Flood said. "For us, really this is the start of the season."
The summer schedule often includes player time with recruits – lineman Keith Lumpkin and cornerback Nadir Barnwell spent time with Union City (N.J.) safety Daiquan Kelly yesterday. It also serves as a time for team bonding outside of the stresses of full class schedules and the football season.
"They're balancing right now, most of them one course, and the lifting and running schedule that they're in," Flood said. "It's a little bit more downtime than they get during the semester. The summer is always a great opportunity for the team to bond. A lot of the players live together. Most of the players live off campus. I think it really is an important time of the year."
Flood discussed the offseason during a Big Ten tour event in Cherry Hill, N.J. The next stop comes in three weeks in Hoboken, N.J., before a July 1 fireworks celebration at High Point Solutions Stadium.
"When you get the opportunity to come down into South Jersey, Cherry Hill, Philadelphia area, we've had so many players over the years from this area that have helped us be a championship program," Flood said. "It really serves two purposes. It's one way for us to come out and give the fans information about what's going on right now in our programs. It also gives us an opportunity to say thank you."