Kenny Britt is about to go National

It was easy to see that coming out of high school Kenny Britt's adjustment to big-time college football would be as smooth as smooth can be. Britt, by way of Bayonne HS [Bayonne, NJ], displayed all the raw physical tools that made Rutgers fans giddy with anticipation of the moment he'd set foot onto Rutgers Stadium.

Fast forward just two years and the true Sophomore had entered the Scarlet Knight history books by establishing a school record of 1,232 receiving yards on 62 catches, including 8 receptions taken for scores. Coming into last season as the leading statistical WR, Kenny Britt did not disappoint in '07 as he netted the fifth highest single season yardage total in conference history. After only a pair of seasons on the Banks of the Old Raritan, Britt has managed to move into the top-10 in school history in career yardage with his performance in the regular season finale at Louisville. In post-season play, Britt amassed an additional 125 yards, bringing his career total to 1672 yards, good enough for ninth on the all-time list and pushing former Scarlet Knight Shawn Tucker to tenth place.

The Scarlet Knights' all-time yardage leader is Tres Moses but his record, currently standing firm at 2522 yards, may not be safe for long if Britt is to repeat his So. season performance in '08.

Britt is coming into this spring camp with the same mentality and focus that has brought him to where he is today, arguably the top WR in the Big East Conference and potentially, a household national name if he is able to pick up from where he left off January 5th.

"Everything is going good so far this spring. We're doing a lot of things in the weight room. We've been trying to get stronger, we've been working on a lot of footwork and a lot of speed work, trying to get faster. Most of all, we're just trying to come closer together as a team. We're just trying to get closer than last year, have a good spring, an learn how to just work as one team," stated Britt.

The Scarlet Knights are not about I, but about we. It was something that I had been aware of only on some unperceived logical level, prior to talking with the All Big-East wide-out, but it was something that became all too obvious when every question I posed to Britt was answered in reference to his family of Scarlet Knights. If I wanted to specifically talk about Britt, apart from his family, I had to be specific in my questioning. It's an interesting cultural phenomenon that has come up on numerous occasions when speaking to perspective recruits and their desire for a family-oriented type of atmosphere at the collegiate level. I finally had a sense, on more than a simple logical level, precisely what these perspective recruits were referring to.

Like the rest of the Scarlet Knights, Britt has been busy with off-season conditioning, the focus being on speed and strength. "Right now I'm 212. By the end of spring, I'm going to try to get to about 215, while still maintaining my speed," continued Britt. Britt's most attractive features coming out of high school were his elite combination of size and speed. Roughly two years removed from his arrival at Rutgers, an increased focus on his conditioning, including detailed work with Strength and Conditioning Coach Jay Butler, have helped make Britt into a budding superstar.

"I went up to a new max on the bench. Two years ago, I could barely get it up at 275-pounds," said Britt. "JB [Coach Jay Butler] has really been focusing on me in the weight room and trying to help me do everything the right way and he's really pushing me to another level. Each time we go into the weight room, he's got another level set for us. He's always got something new for us. When I walk in, he'll walk over and ask me, 'hey Britt you're ready?', and I tell him, 'yeah coach I'm ready'. I try to walk in there confident and with my energy up. I've got to have my energy up because if I don't have my energy up, I'm not going to make it through it."

The Hall of Fame board, a plaque reserved for those Scarlet Knights that excel in the weight room, is partitioned according to player positions in RU's weight room. Those personnel that are superior at, say, the bench press, or perhaps the squat, get their names up there. It's a personal accomplishment set in a team-oriented atmosphere. And it helps drives everyone.

"He's always challenging me to get my name up there, so I finally got my name up there for bench max," stated Britt, overjoyed at the accomplishment.

It's easy to see, after only a few minutes of talking to one of the nation's premiere college WRs - although I've had the good fortune of seeing the Garden State phenom develop not only as a Scarlet Knight, but as a member of the Bayonne Bees - why Britt is so successful today, as he way yesterday. If you happen to see him not wearing his characteristic smile, not bearing his typical expression offering approval and moral support, or not be enthused about one of his teammate's accomplishments, it will be the very first time you do so.

When trying to gauge how he, in particular, is trying to get better this spring, Britt, as I had come to expect of him by this point, could only go so far before offering the praise for his teammates. "I'm trying to work more on my route running and my footwork. I'm trying to work on my speed also because I'm a big guy and it's really hard for me to run out of my breaks. But for practices, its great to have some of these guys to go up against. We challenge each other all the time, the offense and the defense. The twins, I believe, are are two of the best corners in the league and they're just making me better every day."

Matei may be reached at

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