Top 10: 2004 Countdown - Toward No.1

As households rapidly prepare the bubbly and sparkling wines (technically, it's not champagne unless it's bottled in a particular region of France, and hence the American moniker of sparkling wine) in anticipation for the festivities and upcoming celebrations of the oncoming of 2005, we will take a walk down memory lane and look back at what 2004 had to offer the Rutgers faithful.

Rutgers fans were treated to quite the roller-coaster ride in 2004. Both the football team and men's and women's basketball squads had their share of ups and downs, highs and lows, taking fans to inspiring heights all while, seemingly at the same time, painstakingly knocking them over the head with a reality check the size of a 2 by 4.

For the next several paragraphs and during the next few days, into the new year, we'll relive and rehash back to the sites, sounds and scripts of yesterday as we remember the best of Rutgers 2004 athletics.

In the first segment of this installment we counted down from the 10th through 6th most positive developments in Rutgers athletics.  In this segment, we continue with the countdown, towards number 1.


No. 5 - Anticipation to Kick-Off

The anticipation to Rutgers' season opener versus Michigan State was palpable.  Few had ever experienced the tingling sensation present with a packed Rutgers Stadium, filled to its brim and beyond, in front of a nationally televised audience ... and awaiting.

The sensations for the RU faithful were spine-tingling and literally beyond that which may be explained by words.

"Seldom has a game been met with as much anticipation as this Saturday's opener against Michigan State University."

Kevin MacConnell and Company got two major thumbs up for putting on one extraordinary show on the Rutgers College Campus in a university wide effort to increase student participation and enthusiasm at Rutgers athletic events.  Several hundred students were on hand for the first ever Pep Rally of the Greg Schiano era, held on September 3rd, the day before the match versus the Spartans.  A great time was had by all in attendance as food and drinks were available until one's tummy couldn't inhale no mo'.  Not to be outdone by the free giveaways, including a raffle for a free tuition, food, ice cream, drinks and ... get ready for this ... cotton candy, was the guest appearance of the Rutgers Football team and Head Coach Greg Schiano. 

The State of Rutgers was uniting, coming together in a bond unseen in New Jersey before. 


No. 4 - The Victory

Michigan State kicks off to Rutgers before a sold-out Rutgers Stadium crowd as the 2004 season gets underway.



A close-up view of the Rutgers offense preparing for the initial snap of the 2004 season against the Michigan State Spartans.


A new Rutgers Stadium attendance record is announced: 42,612.



The final score displayed as Rutgers would defeat Michigan State.




No. 3 - Garnering Recognition

Special recognition goes out to six Scarlet Knights earning a variety of national honors and acknowledgments, including All-American status, Freshman All-American honors, and All-Conference representation as members of the Rutgers 2004 football team. 

This marked the first time since 1994 that five Rutgers players were named to the All-Conference team.

Wide receiver Tres Moses (Delray Beach, FL) was the recipient of the Homer Hazel Trophy as the Scarlet Knights' MVP and was chosen as a 1st team All-Big East honoree.  Moses broke previous single-season receiving records set by All-America tight end Marco Battaglia in 1995, by surpassing the mark for receptions (81), and receiving yards (1,056) in 2004.  Moses also caught 81 catches, which were good for the second highest total in BIG EAST history, behind former Pittsburgh standout Larry Fitzgerald.

Also recognized as All-Big East honorees were Tight end Clark Harris (Manahawkin, NJ), running back Brian Leonard (Gouverneur, NY) and defensive end Ryan Neill (Wayne Hills, NJ).  Offensive lineman John Glass (Allentown, PA) was a second-team All-Big East honoree.

Rutgers Freshman Jeremy Ito was named as a Sporting News Freshman All-American.  Ito finished the season second nationally in scoring, among freshmen, and became the third Scarlet Knight to receive the distinguished award under Head Coach Greg Schiano (Al Peterson and Brian Leonard were each recipients in 2001 and 2003, respectively).

Fullback turned all-purpose back Brian Leonard was named to the 2004 Pro Football Weekly All-America First Team.  An All-Big East 1st team selection Leonard ranked first nationally among running backs in both catches (6.1/game) and receiving yards (51.8/game), and was joined by So. DeAngelo Williams (Memphis) and Fr. Adrian Peterson (Oklahoma) in a star-studded backfield.




Stay tuned as we continue our countdown. 

In the meantime, what are your Top 10 Rutgers athletics memories of 2004?  Feel free to visit our message boards and voice your opinion.

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