Today, Rutgers Football hosted a media day that began with a conference and Q&A with Coach Schiano, continued with individual player interviews and ended with a fan event complete with team signings and entertainment activities. In his press conference, Schiano emphasized that he has "good feelings" toward the team's focus since "the players are very mature and the seniors have been through a lot." While the good news was that he was very "excited with the guys making weights, passing conditioning and the minimal tests the team has needed to overcome," the story of the day was an injury to Dmitri Linton. Throughout the summer, Linton underwent 2 surgeries within his groin that will prevent him from playing in the upcoming season. While this is a major letdown to the team, Schiano didn't seem to worried about the depth of the defensive backfield.
As for players that caught his eye throughout the spring and summer training, "Joe LeFeged is looking good but is dealing with a lot," Mason Robinson "has a maturity about him that will take him far throughout his career," and "Ray is working hard through every play. He gets better and stronger as the game goes on and he trains like a maniac." While the loss of star Brian Leonard might worry some fans, Schiano described that Jack Cororan has taken the lead. "He loves football. Will he be Brian? No, nobody can be Brian, but he is a great player. Jack was a state champion wrestler, and is a good guy to have back there." In his update on previous injuries, Schiano noted that Zaire Kitchen is coming off a knee surgery and that safety is their main concern when working with him. Linebacker Ryan D'Imperio "is ahead of schedule and is doing a little bit during drills," but the coaches will play it by ear when determining when he will return. "While he will be back sometime during the season, he will most likely not play in the opener."
When asked about the effect of Rutgers' rise in popularity throughout the last year and the increased fanship, Schiano emphasized that the "fans made a name for themselves by traveling to the games. They filled the bowl stadiums, and when looked at by the bowl committees, traveling well makes Rutgers a more favorable option." He also recognized that Rutgers is a top-10 team, but in order to evolve into a top-10 program, Rutgers needs consistency in getting the right players. "Number one, we need to take our kind of kids. Unselfish kids that love the game. Our top kids may not be other team's top picks because we need to choose people that complement our program." In order to continue to drive the success of the team, Schiano admitted that he visits other schools and talks to friends like Joe Paterno to get guidance in growing the Rutgers program; "If you don't solicit advice, you could finish the season without having learned anything." Overall, Schiano is excited about the recruitment process and the future talent because new regions like Southern New Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania have recently become core target areas for the discovery of new players.
Bottom line, though the swings of pre-season have provided several challenges for the coaching staff and team, in general, Schiano is impressed with the hard work of the players both in-and-out of the classroom. The "kids work incredibly hard. They are in the study rooms until 1-2am working on papers because they know they are here to get a degree." Overall, "they have really impressed me."