Front and Center with a Scarlet Veteran

StateofRutgers.com caught up with Rutgers' Ryan Blaszczyk after a recent practice. Blaszczyk returns as starting center for the third straight year with twenty six consecutive starts and is a Rimington Trophy candidate this year as well (honor given to the nation's top center).

StateofRutgers.com caught up with Rutgers' Ryan Blaszczyk after a recent practice. Blaszczyk returns as starting center for the third straight year with twenty six consecutive starts and is a Rimington Trophy candidate this year as well (honor given to the nation's top center). This South Jersey native is a natural born leader and is looking forward to this, his final season in Scarlet. Blaszczyk, by way of Shawnee High School, NJ, truly exemplifies Coach Schiano's vision of what is expected of his players. Blaszczyk has and continues to prove himself both on and off the field. He continues to lead by example through his actions, having done volunteer work with the Special Olympics of NJ and most recently with autistic children as well.

Blaszczyk returns to his position along side eight other returning offensive linemen.

"All that experience on the offensive line will be a great help to our team, and we have depth as well," stated Blaszczyk.

"We have a lot of young guys that are really starting to play well right now. We're working on our communication and being a better offensive line."

Although Rutgers returns a core group of veterans expected to see the majority of action this season, there are a number of talented youngsters awaiting their turn.

"The younger guys are starting to watch film with the older guys and really starting to commit to everything Coach Schiano is teaching," continued Blaszczyk.

Perhaps unknown to Rutgers fans at the time, the hard-nosed Scarlet Knight suffered a foot injury during the PapaJohns.com Bowl. He played through it, but much time has elapsed since, and the healing process is nearly complete.

"It's about 95% right now and it's really showing on the field."

Longtime Rutgers fans may be aware of the tradition that Mike Teel kept alive during his time as the Rutgers starting quarterback. The tradition was that of the quarterback taking his starting offensive linemen out to dinner before the beginning of the subsequent season. We asked Ryan about that long standing tradition and how it would be handled with three quarterbacks vying for that top spot.

A very jovial Ryan laughed, before adding, "Oh you have just planted a seed right here. I think we're going to need a dinner from each (QB)."

Ryan went on to make an exclusive prediction to SOR concerning the question on every Rutgers fans' and opponents' minds alike. Stating confidently, "I think whoever takes us out for the best dinner will be the next starting quarterback. That's something we take pride in, in our quarterback taking us out to dinner."

"Mike (Teel) took us out to dinner and he had over 3,000 yards passing in two seasons, so it obviously worked out well for him. So we're just going to have see which quarterback takes us to the best place."

Blaszczyk has distinguished himself to his teammates both on and off the field during his time at Rutgers and truly great things await him this season and beyond. He is a very affable and engaging young man that is worthy of praise and recognition for his hard work and dedication to his teammates. During the entire interview for this story Blaszczyk referred to his teammates as "we" and never as "me".

Blaszczyk is the on and off the field embodiment of Coach Schiano's mantra "F.A.M.I.L.Y.", and will be looked upon as one of the veteran leaders of the 2009 version of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights.


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