Spring Practice #6 Notebook

PISCATAWAY, N.J. - As athletes compete for starting and back-up positions in spring practice, one thing became much clearer during the last 24 hours: Rutgers football team's regular season schedule.

Originally arranged to host Howard in the season opener, Rutgers and Fresno State agreed upon a home and home series beginning here on Labor Day, eliminating the Scarlet Knights' original opponent from the calendar.

"We got a twelfth game that becomes our eleventh," head coach Greg Schiano said after practice, "but it's an exciting matchup." "It should be a great way to start the season."

Fresno State, a member of the Western Athletic Conference, registered nine wins and four losses last season, including a 40-28 victory over Georgia Tech in the Humanitarian Bowl.

Schiano attributed the Bulldogs' success to Pat Hill, who has remained at their helm since 1997.

"They're a very good football team," Schiano said. "Coach Hill does a great job."

While the calendar clears up, the depth chart has not indicated any recent shakeups.

Wide receiver Tim Brown, the Knights third option receiver in 2007, has remained out of spring training due to academic issues, according to Schiano.

"He's got some academic things that he's getting straightened out, but I'm confident that he'll be back for the second half," Schiano said of Brown, who caught 24 passes for 340 yards last year.

Defensively, the Knights return several starters, but also some younger and less experienced personnel.

One of these players competing for time is Manny Abreu, a 6'4 235-pound linebacker out of Union City High School. Abreu, a top prospect that selected the home state Scarlet Knights' budding program over Michigan, Florida, and a slew of other suitors, suffered a season-ending injury in his initial collegiate game last year.

"He's making strides, he's young, figuring it all out," Schiano said.

Some players are still recovering from their respective injuries, including Kordell Young, who Schiano expects to be ready for the season.

"He's doing individual work, only what the trainers allow," Schiano said.

Meanwhile, Mason Robinson, who returned kickoffs and punts in his rookie campaign, carried the ball with the first unit.

Play of the Day: Rookie Pat Brown made a full extension 52-yard catch, drawing cheers from his teammates.

In Case You Missed It: Schiano on wideout Dennis Campbell, who's working diligently during the spring training sessions: "He's doing well. "I thought he had a very good bowl preparation (regarding the International Bowl). He's having a very serious, constructive winter and doing well this spring."

Schiano on Teddy Dellaganna's booming punt, which sailed over 70 yards: "Yeah, it was a nice bang."

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