"It's that play, one at a time"

Upon Coach Flood's arrival at Rutgers, the Scarlet Knight running game took a major leap forward. One of the chief reasons for continued improvement was the QB of the OL, current Pittsburgh Steeler Darnell Stapleton. With Stapleton's graduation to the league, the Rutgers Football offense needed to find an immediate replacement for the David Bender Trophy recipient. Enter Ryan Blaszczyk.

Upon arriving to the Banks, the former HS All-State selection by both the Star Ledger and Associated Press, began his collegiate career as a member of the Rutgers Football team on the defensive line. The 6-foot-4 and 285-pounder would make the switch to the offensive line (OL) the following spring while beginning to learn the intricacies of the OL side of the ball. By 2006, Ryan Blaszczyk continued as part of the scout team while watching and learning from an OL that was named by some as one of the very best in the nation. The feeling this year, however, may seem to be a bit different as Blaszczyk has earned himself the starting spot at the Center (C) position. Before his initial snap as the Rutgers Football starting C, he has already been selected as a Pre-Season 3rd team All-Big East honoree.

"Things aren't that different. I'm still working really hard and trying to continue to learn the game and really just doing my one-eleventh. I've had the opportunity to learn from a great group of guys, the seniors, in Pedro [Sosa], Jeremy [Zuttah], and Mike [Fladell]. Those guys are the leaders of this line and I'm trying to follow their lead," stated Blaszczyk.

Even with the remarkable change in the culture of the RU program, the one constant since the arrival of Head Coach Greg Schiano has been continued focus on the very next play.

"I'm really not trying to think about being starting C. I just try to stay focused on what I need to do, my part," continued Blaszczyk.

Despite the continued effort and discipline, there are some intangibles that do come into play when anchoring the OL of a major D-1 football team. And certainly, the first time around there is, however slight, an adjustment.

"One of the more difficult adjustments has been the focus on watching more tape, watching more tape with the older guys. But from that, it's really more about improving yourself. One of the things I've learned is just how to have more poise under pressure, how to be a better leader. These are all things that the Seniors have taught us. And when it's my turn, I try to be a great leader just like I've been led," said Blaszczyk.

With pre-season practice complete, the focus will now turn to Buffalo, a team that opened up its 2006 campaign with a 9-3 OT victory over Temple, but would win again only once for the duration of the season. Despite the less than remarkable '06 record of the opposition, there is little chance RU may be looking ahead.

"We've started looking at some film and we've started to focus on Buffalo a little bit. Buffalo is a good team and we need to be ready to play them. But really, the focus needs to be on us. The focus needs to be on that one play. It's that play, one at a time," stated Blaszczyk.


Scarlet Report Top Stories