It may be travel day for Rutgers football and its season opener against Washington, but the staff still made a pair of Egg Harbor Township (N.J.) Cedar Creek commits feel like priorities.
Rutgers remains in constant contact with the state's top 2017 receiver and center, including a conversation Thursday morning between Owen Bowles and Rutgers offensive line coach AJ Blazek.
“I've been talking to coaches all the time and I love that,” Bowles said after a scrimmage against Cherry Hill (N.J.) West. “I just talked to coach Blaz this morning before school. I love what they're doing. I love the direction of the program. … Me and coach Blaz are like family. It's always big hugs whenever I see him. He's a great dude. He's one of the bigger reasons why I chose Rutgers. I felt at home every time I talked to him and every time I went up there. He made me feel like Rutgers is home, and that's what I wanted in a school.”
Bowles projects as a center for Rutgers and this summer was his first true taste of the position. Primarily a defensive tackle and right tackle for Cedar Creek, he worked half of today's scrimmage at center.
“It's a little awkward,” Bowles said. “It's a big transition. I didn't think it would be that hard but I like it. I think I can excel at it really well. … I'll play either [way]. I just want to get on the field and play early. They told me they were going to try me out and wherever I do best is where they want me.”
Receiver Bo Melton did not play for precautionary reasons, but looks forward to his season-opener next week. He remains one of Rutgers' most ardent supporters.
“It's been surprising and it's been fun,” Melton said on the 2017 class. “To see other guys stay in New Jersey is always a great thing to see. After the four commits like Jonathan Taylor, Everett Wormley, Johnathan Lewis and Jon Lovett. They all committed after I did and I was happy for them and that was their decision. They made the decision to stay home and make … the Scarlet Knights a better football team, which is very good. Everybody is actually surprised and I can't wait.”
Melton is comfortable in a spread offense already. He looks forward to a dynamic role in the Rutgers version of a spread next season.
“Rutgers with coach Drew Mehringer and [running backs coach Zak] Kuhr, they run a similar offense as they did at James Madison,” Melton said. “I'm put in positions in slot where I can make open plays. It fits very well. Once you have a great quarterback and they have a great offense that everybody can connect to, it's easier when you come in.”
Both look forward to the official start of the “Ash Era” Saturday on the Pac-12 Network.
“I just want to see a different mindset going forward,” Bowles said. “Last year they seemed kind of flat when they got down. They would accept it when they got down, it seemed like, so I'm excited to see how the new regime changes that aspect.”