Monday Practice Report: Aiken Honored

PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Rutgers started its Labor Day off with a nice headline in the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week. Rutgers head coach Kyle Flood held his weekly press conference Monday afternoon, where he talked about Johnathan Aiken, the Howard game week and more.

Rutgers reached its goal of being 1-0 against Washington State, and now shifts its focus to Howard. After Howard lost its opener 41-0 to Akron, Rutgers has plenty of momentum at the start of game week.

The Headline -- Welcome to the Big Ten Johnathan Aiken. The senior was one of three starters at safety against Washington State, and is the first Defensive Player of the Week in the Big Ten.

Aiken received the honor thanks to two big plays in the decisive fourth quarter at CenturyLink Field. Aiken forced a fumble on a punt return to flip the field for Rutgers on its go-ahead drive. He followed it up with a fourth-down pass breakup to ice the game.

“It actually feels surreal,” Aiken said. “I don’t know. I’m excited about this. … My roommate Lorenzo Waters was the first to send me a picture. I was sleeping, actually.”

Aiken likely returns to a second-team role this week with a more traditional game plan against Howard. He started as a third safety ahead of linebacker Quentin Gause last week and finished with seven tackles.

Worth Noting -- Flood and his staff stayed up very late last night to take care of recruiting business. As the clock turned to midnight, the start of contact with 2016 prospects began. Flood said he stayed up until 2:30 contacting prospects, and much of his staff did the same.

“I ended up probably until 2:30 in the morning responding to messages and then I just tapped out,” Flood said. “I said, ‘I’m going to bed. You should too.’”

Quote of the Day -- “If you were building a football player, you would build Michael Burton. … A selfless football player, he’s a pleasure to coach and one of the best football players we have on our team.” – Coach Kyle Flood.

On the Other Side -- Howard got off to a rough start following a 41-0 loss to Akron. The Bison put up just 216 yards of total offense on 77 plays from scrimmage. Tailbacks Terrance Tusan and William Parker combined for 102 yards on 29 rushing attempts.

Now sit back and take in Flood’s press conference.

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