RUTGERS REWIND – W/E August 13, 2005
Summer camp opened on Sunday. The first news out of camp was the absence of RS Sr WLB Brad Cunningham (knee), So CB Anthony Miller (personal), RS Fr DE Mike Ziarnowski (medical), RS Fr DT Joe Salinardi (quit), and Fr DT Jonathan Pierre-Etienne (hip). Many do not expect Miller to return. Others wonder why he hasn't been dismissed for failing to report for camp. Also, freshmen WR Chris McClover, on campus for summer workouts, returned to Florida, while freshman Darren Salinardi did not report, apparently having failed to qualify for a second consecutive year. Sr CB Leslie Collins, injured in a car accident after the Temple game last year, rejoined the team for summer camp.
Matei interviewed highly touted WR Vidal Hazelton (6-4 and 200) from Staten Island, who will be attending Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia this year. Hazleton shined the Elite College Combine in Randolph, NJ and drew the attention of the nation's elite programs. Despite the high profile, Rutgers is still on Hazelton's radar.
The pre-summer camp depth chart was published in the Star Ledger. Observations of the depth chart included:
- Jr TB Justise Hairston is listed ahead of RS Sr TB Pittman. Does this mean Justise is hitting the right holes?
- So Corey Hyman is listed as the backup LT. RS So Dan Mazan is listed as the backup LG instead of at center. And RS Fr Mike Gilmartin, who missed the Spring Game with a knee injury, is listed as the backup RG.
- JUCO Jr Darnell Stapleton is listed as the starting center before his first official practice with the team. Color me skeptical.
- The LB roster bears no resemblance to the Spring Game roster. RS Fr Chenry Lewis moved from WLB to SLB. Jr Quintero Frierson moved from SLB back to WLB. WTF?
- Sr CB Corey Barnes is listed ahead of former starting CB Jr Derrick Roberson. Miller is not listed on the depth chart. It would appear that he has been written off.
Practice started on Tuesday and Rutgers.Scout.com was there with photos on Monday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. The big story was the four-way competition for the starting center job between walk-on RS Jr Joe Giacobbe, JUCO Jr Darnell Stapleton, RS Jr William Vogt, and true Fr Dave McClain. The center positional is universally agreed to be the biggest concern of summer camp.
Dan Welch continued his three-part summer camp preview with a look at Depth Chart Issues. The positions that were discussed included starting center, DT, TB, FB, LG, LT, CB, WLB, SLB, and safeties.
RS Fr FS Robert Baham and true Fr S Courtney Greene made an early impression on the first day of practice. The Home News Tribune featured an article about two New Jersey players who transferred to Rutgers last year and are competing for spots on the two-deep – RS So RG Dan Mazan and RS Fr DT Carl Howard.
Sr Corey Barnes is currently listed as the starting CB opposite Jr Joe Porter and ahead of Jr Derrick Roberson. This is the biggest surprise of the first week of summer camp. Barnes was switched from backup WR to backup CB last year after the car accident following the Temple game ended the season of three DBs. Roberson was not expected to hold off Miller for the starting job. But losing the job to a player with much less experience was shocking. The LB corps, so disappointing last year, was also profiled with new LB Coach Darren Rizzi, who was the RB Coach last year. Baham (hip) and Sr DT Luis Rivas (foot) both missed practice on Wednesday. I'm of the opinion that Rivas should be severely disciplined as he broke the most important team rule for 2005 – Rivas must stay healthy.
In basketball news, Vivian Stringer received two verbal commitments for the fall recruiting class – PG Epiphanny Prince and C Rashidat Junaid. Prince (5-9) is from Murry Bergtraum HS in Manhattan and Junaid (6-4) is from Camden Catholic HS. Also, Mike Sullivan interviewed rising high school junior CG Antonio Jardine (6-2 and 180) from St. John Neumann-Goretti in Philadelphia, PA. Jardine currently includes Rutgers in his short-list of colleges.
Matei interviewed RS Jr WR Shawn Tucker, who missed most of the 2004 season with a groin injury that required surgery. Tucker sat out spring camp as a precaution. Tucker could join RS Sr WR Tres Moses on the All-Big East team if he can regain the form of his sophomore campaign in 2003.
RS Jr OL Randy Boxill and RS Jr WS Bryan Durango both quit the team. Boxill suffered an ACL injury in spring camp after enrolling in January 2002 and never played. Durango opened the 2003 season as the starting WS but suffered knee injuries midway through the season. He again injured his knee last year. His departure means Schiano has lost a two-deep at safety. Rivas (foot) again missed practice on Thursday and was joined by Girault (hamstring). Baham's hip injury will sideline him indefinitely. Girault and Sr WS Jason Nugent are Schiano's only experienced safeties. Two walk-ons are currently listed as the backups. Schiano has typically used safeties as OLBs in his dime defense. He will need a true freshman to make an impact comparable to that of Girault last year. Courtney Greene and Glen Lee are the leading candidates.
Matei served up another piece in his yearlong look at the St. Joseph program in Montvale, NJ. St. Joe's did little but further solidify the line of thinking that they are one of the state's and nation's top programs by winning their sixth straight Parochial Group III state title. St. Joes is home to current Scarlet Knights So FS Ron Girault and true freshmen DBs Devin and Jason McCourty.
Dan Welch finished his three-part summer camp preview with a look at performance issues that could be the difference between a four-win and seven-win season. After a severely underachieving 4-7 season in 2004, there are plenty of issues. Big surprise there. Some issues include mental/emotional focus, big plays allowed, interceptions, red zone scoring, powder puff pass coverage, defending misdirection, and run blocking.
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