2007 Preview: QBs and RBs

This article is the second of a six-part series previewing the 2007 Rutgers football team. In our initial look, we traversed about the OL, looked at the key players coming back and those likely to make a run during the upcoming season. In this second part, we'll continue our preview series with a look at the QBs and RBs.



The Rutgers offense took an impressive step forward in 2005, after a disappointing performance in 2004.  The primary difference during the '06 campaign, as compared to '05, would be the departure of veteran QB Ryan Hart, who would lead Rutgers Football to its first ever Bowl Game outside of the Garden State borders.  The 2006 season saw RS So QB Mike Teel begin his tenure as leader of the offense. Teel struggled early but picked it up in the latter third of the season, showing fans glimpses of the devastation a vertical passing game can have on the opposition, when coupled with a potent running game.


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In addition to an offensive line featuring returning starters at the tackle positions, Rutgers will benefit from the consistency that comes from having a QB be knee-deep in the offensive system for a third straight year. 


*       RS Jr. QB Mike Teel (2006 stats: 13 GS, 164 - 296 for 2135 yards, 12 TDs, and 13 INTs)

*       RS So. QB Jabu Lovelace (2006 stats: 3 GP, 1 - 1 for 1 yard; 9 rush for 28 yards)

Teel saw spot action during his RS Fr year.  His first glimpse of game time saw him guide the team downfield for a score for the first time in his career against Villanova - a game RU would win 38-6.  During 2006, Teel was the man behind center. Despite his early struggles, Teel managed to continue to do what he had done throughout his HS career - win.  During the latter third of the year, the former Garden State HS stud QB began to put it together, completing 65% of his passes and throwing 5TDs to no INTs during the last 3 games.  If the conclusion to '06 was any indication, Teel may be primed for a breakout season. 

Jabu Lovelace redshirted during his initial year on the Banks and saw limited action in 2006.  Lovelace appeared in a total of 3 games, including RU's Texas Bowl victory.  Lovelace's talents bring a different philosophy to the forefront with a greater emphasis on the QB running game.


*       RS So. QB Domenic Natale -- After initially committing to and signing with Michigan State out of The Hun, Natale left MSU and head back to New Jersey.  After sitting out the 2006 season as required by NCAA regulations, Dom was injured during spring practice '07 and may miss the entirety of the 2007 season.

*       RS Fr. QB Tom Lang -- Big QB that played at one of the premiere academic prep schools in the U.S., Lang made the move to the TE position following this past spring.

*      RS Fr. QB Chris Paul-Etienne -- Standout performer with a literal gun for an arm at Miami-Edison Senior HS, Chris was equally impressive at one of RU's camps in FL as Lang was in NJ, and soon received an offer; after suffering a severe knee injury in a post-season HS All-Star game Chris fully healed, rehabbed, and helped the team as a member of the scout team.

*       RS So. QB Andrew Depaola -- Impressive as a Walk-on, DePaola helped prepare the scout team for game week during his initial collegiate season, before climbing to #3 on the depth chart during the '06 season.


The backfield situation in 2006 has most likely never been as good.  The combination of power, finesse and speed re-emerged in Piscataway and boasted impressive talent and depth.  Rutgers RBs significantly improved upon their 2005 mark, netting 2499 rushing yards compared to 2162 the previous year.  A testament to both the improved OL play and the skill set of RU's 'backs, the Scarlet Knights RBs lost only 157 yards on the ground (total negative rush yards) compared to the previous year's mark of 215 yards - amazingly, RU ran the ball 42 more times in 2006 in comparison to 2005.  With increased efficiency, RU went to the well more often, daring the opposition to stop them.  Rutgers now had a fearful rushing attack from which sprung a devastating passing attack late in the year.



*       RS Sr. FB Brian Leonard (2006 stats: 13 GS, 93 carries, 431yds, 5 TDs; 38 rec., 294yds)

Brian Leonard epitomized everything good not just about Rutgers Football, but Rutgers in general.  He was the quintessential scholar-athlete, evidenced not only by his reception of the 17th annual Draddy Trophy (regarded in athletic circles as the "Academic Heisman") but also for his quite, lead-by-example demeanor that garnered respect from teammates and adoration from long-suffering fans.  On the field, Leonard would best be described as a hybrid, adept at doing just about everything that an all-around back can do, but in 2006, Leonard took a step back from the spotlight that is the RB spot, and decided instead to show NFL officials his entire repertoire.  Well known for leaping over would-be tacklers, a signature move that has come to be known as the "Leonard Leap", Leonard found himself as a 2nd Round draft pick by the St. Louis Rams in the 2007 NFL Draft.

Returning Players Likely To See Action

*       Tr Jr. RB Raymell Rice (2006 stats: 13 GS, 335 carries, 1831yds, 20 TDs, 4 rec., 30yds)

*       Tr So. RB Kordell Young (2006 stats: 11 GP, 29 carries, 152yds, 3 TDs, 3 rec., 39yds)

*       Tr So. FB Jack Corcoran (2006 stats: 12 GP, 4 carries, 30yds)

After emerging as one of the feel-good stories of 2005, Raymell Rice quickly became one of the top rushers in the nation in 2006.  Originally committed to Syracuse, Rice re-opened his recruitment after the coaching change in up-state New York and wound up on the Banks.  During Rice's initial spring training camp, prevailing thought penciled in Justice Hairston as the starter with, perhaps, Rice, serving as his back-up. Summer training camp would see Rice, however, emerge as the starter, and Hairston would leave Rutgers soon thereafter.  Rice put a stamp on his position during the second half of the Connecticut game, which saw him rush for a season high-217 yards.  After garnering Sporting News Fr All-American honors, Rice became the first true Fr Scarlet Knight to go over the 1,000 yard mark and the first Scarlet Knight in 11 years to eclipse the mark.  In 2006, Rice came out guns a-blazing, leading the Big East Conference with 1831 rushing yards, while recording a whopping 20 TDs on the season - his back to back 1000yds performance put him in a unique category as only the 3rd Scarlet Knight ever to achieve the high standard, joining Terrell Willis and JJ Jennings.  A Pre-Season All Conference 1st Team Selection, Rice has been named as a consensus Top 5 RB by numerous publications.

Kordell Young was originally a verbal commitment to Virginia, of the ACC.  Young decided to opt out and instead stay in-state to attend Rutgers. After rushing for more than 4,500 yards and 63 TDs in HS, Young became a very pleasant post-holiday surprise for RU fans as LOI day drew closer.  Young's tremendous acceleration and top-end speed precluded him from seeing a redshirt year.  Seeing spotty, though valuable game action, Young's most remembered play may be his second quarter, 39-yard reception in Rutgers' upset over then #3 Louisville.  With a return to a more balanced attack in 2007, Young should serve as more of a weapon due to his dual ability to run and catch out of the backfield.

Jack Corcoran saw action in 12 of Rutgers' 13 games in 2006, primarily in short-yardage situations.  Corcoran showed glimpses, against Howard, of his ability to run the ball, but was featured mostly as a blocking fullback.  Corcoran will take over the FB spot in 2007, helping to pave the way for RU's Heisman Candidate Ray Rice.


*       Sr. FB Jean Beljour - Highly touted recruit by way of Hackensack HS, Beljour spent most of his initial season as part of the STs unit.  Beljour played in all 12 games in 2005, and in 12 of 13 games in 2006, primarily on STs. 

*      RS Fr. FB Andres Morales - A consensus All-State AAAA honoree at Bethlehem HS, Morales arrived to Rutgers as a LB, was redshirted during his initial year, and was moved to the FB position during summer of '07.  Morales, a big bruiser that could complement Corcoran well in a power formation, has already made the move up the depth chart and should see game action during the 2007 season.

*       Tr FR RB Mason Robinson - Highly regarded recruit by way of Somerville HS, Robinson had several major offers but decided to opt for his home state school.  A 4-star recruit according to Scout.com, Robinson has the versatility to excel at either CB or RB, but will get his shot to impress on the offensive side of the ball. 


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