What It Takes to Be a Leader

Leadership is a key component to any football team. Rutgers has several fifth year seniors on its team, providing the necessary foundation for success. Among the veteran leaders is Brandon Renkart, a captain on the team and the chieftain of the linebacker corps.

His on field contributions this season include 49 tackles, six of which were registered for a loss and two and a half sacks. Additionally, Renkart has forced one fumble.

More importantly, Renkart is one of the select members of the Rutgers football team that everyone else looks up to for guidance and leadership.

"Coming into camp, you have to teach the younger guys," Renkart said. "It also entails keeping the older guys in check. It's keeping their heads positive when things are going down and keeping things going when things are going up."

With the day-to-day changes that happen on any team, it is important to have foundations that can help keep the variety of players balanced. Renkart communicates with the different captains on the team who are in charge of their individual units, to make sure everybody is on the same page.

"We all try to lead by example," Renkart said. "Whether it is out on the practice field or in the meeting room, we try to lead the way for people to follow. If things get out of line, we need to speak up and tell them how to do things right."

Renkart, like several of the current members of RU Football, had the good fortune to play alongside former RU great Brian Leonard for a number of years.

"Coming in, I had a strong work ethic and a desire to be a perfectionist," Renkart said. "You try and find guys that have similar characteristics as you. I looked up to guys like Brian Leonard and Ryan Neill at the time I was a freshman. Just the way they worked and how dedicated they were, they really showed me the way."

Renkart has taken the lessons that he has learned and applied them to his own life. He redshirted his first season and played mostly on special teams during the following two seasons.

In 2006, Renkart made the transition from safety to linebacker, where he currently resides. During the 2006 campaign, Renkart recorded 54 tackles, 12 of which were for a loss, including three and a half sacks. He was also named a 2006 Big East Academic Team member, as well as the Rutgers Scholar Athlete Award winner, given out to the letterwinner with the highest academic average alongside a demonstrated outstanding football ability.

Renkart provides the rare combination of football and academic brilliance and this success has given him the opportunity to speak to the newcomers to the program who need to learn the necessary skill of time management. As a leader on the football team Renkart's abilities both in and outside the classroom grant him the capacity to demonstrate exactly what it takes to be successful.

"At each position group, we try to make sure that the leaders make sure the young guys are following and getting accustomed to the way we do things," Renkart said. "Obviously there is a lenience period in the beginning, but as the season goes on, we expect more and more out of the freshman."

Currently, Rutgers sits at 5-3 on the season and with two Big East losses, the Scarlet Knights are likely out of the conference title hunt. However, it is important to keep the team motivated because a coveted bowl bid may still be on the offing.

Renkart will not be at Rutgers next year to see where the program heads from here, but he knows the team is in good hands with some of the rising players on the team.

"Personally from a linebacker standpoint, since I deal with that most of the time, a kid like Kevin Malast," Renkart said. "He is definitely going to step up and be a leader. Defensive line, Pete Tverdov, he is definitely going to be a leader for us in the coming years."

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