RUTGERS RECRUITING NEEDS
Part 4: Receivers
Rutgers Head Coach Greg Schiano is four years past filling pressing needs in his receiving corps. By 2003, Schiano had recruited an able two-deep of fast, talented receivers. The receiving corps has been among the best in the Big East Conference each of the past two years, twice placing two receivers on the All Big East Team (three on the First Team). Though Schiano lost his best receiver, he returns the rest of his two-deep intact. The unit is in maintenance mode. This article, the fourth in a series of seven evaluating the needs of the 2006 recruiting class, looks at the strongest unit on the team – the receivers.
RS Sr WR Tres Moses (11 GS, 12 GP, 45 receptions for 758 yards and 5 TDs) departs after a record-breaking career at Rutgers. Tres played as the 3WR as a true freshman. A knee bruise early in the 2002 campaign ended his second season early with a medical redshirt. Tres returned in 2003 and became a playmaker, leading the receivers in receptions and TDs and demonstrating a knack for picking up tough yards after the catch to move the chains. Tres further elevated his performance in 2004, earning First Team All-Big East honors, setting Rutgers season records for receptions (first in the Big East and eighth nationally) and receiving yardage (second in the Big East and eleventh nationally), and recording the second highest catch total in Big East history. With a more balanced offense last year, Moses' production declined but he still led the receivers in receptions and the team in receiving yardage. Tres was arguably the best possession receiver in the Big East for the past two years. His playmaking will be a tremendous loss.
RS Jr WR Shawn Tucker (11 GS, 32 receptions for 484 yards and one TD) emerged as a starting WR as a true freshman in 2002 after injuries sidelined the two starters. Shawn easily retained his starting job in 2003 and led the team in receiving yardage though playing much of the season with a groin injury that required off-season surgery. He re-injured his groin early in 2004, took a medical redshirt, and endured another surgery. Tucker regained his starting job last year and complemented Moses in a formidable receiving tandem. He is expected to take the playmaking mantle from Moses.
RS Jr TE Clark Harris (11 GS, 12 GP, 38 receptions for 584 yards and 4 TDs) redshirted in 2002. Harris split TE duties in 2003 as the best receiving TE. Clark assumed the starting job in 2004 and earned First Team All-Big East honors while leading the league in receptions (third nationally) and receiving yardage (second nationally) among TEs. Harris again placed first among Big East TEs in receptions and yardage last year and repeated with First Team All-Big East Honors. But he nonetheless had a disappointing season marred by frequent dropped passes. Harris will have to step forward and fill the playmaking void created by Moses' departure.
Jr TE Sam Johnson (6 GS, 12 GP, 9 receptions for 76 yards and 3 TDs) played early as a freshman in 2003 after an injury created an opening in the three-man rotation at TE before summer camp even started. He assumed the blocking TE role in 2004 when the starter was switched to center but didn't play much behind Harris despite Harris' deficiency as a blocker. Johnson played a much bigger role last season with the more frequent use of 2TE formations. Five of his six starts occurred in 2TE formations. Johnson also proved to be an effective goal line target as one-third of his catches went for TDs. Sam should see plenty of action in 2TE formations next season.
Jr WR Marcus Daniels (1 GS, 12 GP, 5 receptions for 101 yards and one TD) earned the 3WR role as a freshman in 2003 but has so far failed to realize his potential with a tantalizing combination of size and speed. Marcus initially replaced the injured Tucker in the starting lineup in 2004 but was generally ineffective and showed an aversion to contact underneath, which resulted in his demotion. The more run-oriented offense limited playing time opportunities last season and Daniels' production plummeted as he was primarily used as a blocker. The departure of Moses will give Marcus an opportunity to make a long-awaited impact in his senior season.
Jr WR Willie Foster (12 GP, 8 receptions for 129 yards) played minimally in 2003 as the fifth WR. He emerged as a deep threat in 2004 but lacked a QB to deliver the ball deep. He didn't play much behind Moses. Foster emerged as the 3WR last season but made a bigger impact as a kick returner. Foster is the likely candidate to replace Moses at flanker.
WR Tiquan Underwood (12 GP, 4 receptions for 47 yards) was expected to redshirt in a deep receiving corps but saw action early in the year. At QB in a shotgun, inside zone-option based scheme. The gimmick wore off quickly but Tiquan later saw action in the WR rotation. He will likely push Daniels and Foster for playing time next year.
RS Sr WR Chris Baker (8 GP, 2 receptions for 6 yards) spent his freshman season as the scout team QB while he was academically ineligible. In 2002, Schiano switched Baker to WR. Hamstring injuries to two expected starters in 2002 summer camp created a further opportunity that Chris seized. He started for the first five games before a stress fracture in his foot ended his season prematurely. Baker competed for the vacant starting QB job in 2003 spring camp but could not even unseat the incumbent backup QB. He returned unhappily to WR in summer camp but did not play in 2003. Not expected to contribute in 2004, Chris eventually emerged as the starter opposite Moses after Tucker aggravated his groin injury. Baker regained his lost year of eligibility in the classroom and returned for a fifth season last year. He played mostly as a blocker.
RS Jr Anthony Cali redshirted as a freshman QB and ran the scout team. Cali did not play in 2003 as the third team QB. With the departure of the backup QB in 2003, Cali appeared to win the backup job but was displaced midway through the year, seeing action only as the holder for FGAs and XPAs. Schiano switched Cali to TE in spring camp last year but Anthony only played on special teams last season. Curiously, he will return for a fifth season even though he didn't make the two-deep last year.
RS So TE Brad Listorti redshirted as a freshman in 2003. He was buried fourth at perhaps the deepest position on the team in 2004 and did not play. Listorti was apparently passed on the depth chart by Cali last season based upon their respective performances in the spring game. Brad injured his knee during warm-ups before the season opener last season and never cracked the playing rotation. He is not expected to contribute next season and likely will not be invited back for a fifth season.
RS Fr WR Keith Taylor redshirted in 2004 and practiced on the scout team. Injuries to three veterans created an opportunity for playing time in spring camp last year. Taylor capitalized upon that chance and had one of the more remarkable performances in the Spring Game. He showed a willingness to go over the middle despite a slight build. Expected see some playing time last year, Taylor was beaten by Underwood in the three-deep WR rotation. The lost year was not crucial since desperately needed to put some weight on his slender frame. He will compete for a spot in the WR rotation in spring camp.
Fr WR Dennis Campbell redshirted last season in a deep unit and practiced with the scout team. He will get a chance to prove himself in spring camp.
RS So WR James Townsend transferred to Rutgers from Iowa, where he caught six passes for 98 yards and one TD in two seasons. Townsend is not yet listed on the official roster. Townsend was a highly touted recruit out of Holy Cross HS in Delran, NJ. However, he left the Hawkeyes program last spring for "personal reasons", which is always a concern. Townsend will compete for a spot in the playing rotation in spring camp.
RS Fr TE Craig McGovern transferred to Rutgers in January from Michigan State, where he caught two passes for 11 yards last season. McGovern will be ineligible next season under NCAA transfer rules but will participate in spring camp. He will have two years of eligibility remaining commencing in 2007.
Despite the tremendous loss of Moses, Schiano still has plenty of depth at WR and plenty of experience at TE. His playing rotation was three deep at WR but only two deep at TE. While there are no urgent needs, the pipeline needs replenishment. Schiano has recruited only two WRs and no TEs in the past two years. With few (and unproven) young receivers in the program, Schiano needs a full class of two WRs and a heavy class of two TEs. Schiano currently has verbal commitments from four WRs – Kenny Britt of Bayonne HS in Bayonne, NJ; Tim Brown of Miami Northwestern HS in Miami, FL; and Shamar Graves of Woodbridge HS in Woodbridge, NJ as well as two TEs – Jesse Cisco of the Morristown-Beard School in Morristown, NJ and Jeff Minemyer of Bishop Carroll HS in Ebensburg, PA. With five recruits, it would appear that Schiano has filled his needs at receiver.
Coming Next: Rutgers Recruiting Needs, Part 5. For the third consecutive year, the DLine was the strength of the Rutgers defense. But heavy losses have decimated this unit. What is the forecast for the most important defensive unit on the Scarlet Knight team?
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