So it came as little surprise Wright received the Mark Mills Second Effort Award, given to the most improved offensive player. Sophomore free safety Khaseem Greene received the Douglas A. Smith Award as the most improved defensive player and senior defensive tackle Charlie Noonan won the Frank R. Burns Award as the player who displays extraordinary mental and physical toughness in spring practice.
"Timmy Wright, early in the spring … I kind of I mentioned I thought he was doing some really good things, and that continued,'' Schiano said after Saturday's Scarlet-White game. "It kind of clicked for him a little bit, and I think he and (receivers) coach (P.J.) Fleck have a great chemistry, which helps.''
The 6-foot-4, 215-pound Wright played in 12 games last season but didn't have a catch. In spring practice, though, he proved to be the most consistent of the unproven receivers.
"He's really a big, impressive receiver,'' Schiano said. "That's what you want him to look like.''
Greene made 33 tackles last season, and added two sacks and two interceptions while playing in a reserve role.
However, he was consistent throughout the spring, and tightened his hold on the vacant starting free safety position.
"Khaseem has really just played well for us before, but I think he really played like a starter this spring,'' Schiano said. "Certainly there will still be competition come next fall, but I think he carried himself like a first teamer, he performed like a first teamer, and that's great to see because with the graduation of Zaire, we need a guy to step up.
"There will be competition there, but as of now he's going in there with the lead.''
Noonan made 20 tackles in 12 starts last season, but showed his grit by participating in the first 13 spring practices before undergoing an undisclosed surgical procedure Wednesday.
Schiano said Noonan played in most of the spring despite the injury because he wanted to work under new defensive line coach Randy Melvin to better learn different techniques being taught.
"Charlie is our tough guy,'' Schiano said. "He gutted it out throughout the spring so he could do that, and we wanted to make sure his recovery would get him back in time for the summer program because he is so important to the leadership of this football team.''
A spring game-record 20,114 showed up for Saturday's exhibition, and Schiano took notice.
"I thought the crowd was excellent,'' he said. "I think the weather had something to do with it, but I think when you have really talented young players, people get excited about it. I know I am.''
Schiano's retort on Tagligabue
Former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue, who was hired recently by the Big East as a consultant, made comments that could be viewed as derogatory toward Rutgers when he told the New York Times:
"Is Minnesota and Rutgers going to get a big rating on Long Island? Give me a break. Every game isn't Michigan and Michigan State. Am I going to rush home from a tennis game on Saturday to watch Minnesota and Rutgers if I live on Long Island?"
Schiano was asked about it during his spring wrapup press conference after the Scarlet-White game.
"People get all worked up on that,'' Schiano said. "Sometimes things get said, or don't get said …ya' know, not everybody knows everything. Sometimes you say stuff and you're not sure about it. I don't know what the case was. I don't put a lot of stock in it because I don't think anybody else does.''
Schiano also said he thought Rutgers had a following on Long Island.
"I think we're pretty good in Long Island, by the way,'' he said. "(Defenive tackle) Scott Vallone is a pretty good player.''
As for how the landscape will shake out, Schiano said he is not getting involved in it.
He added he will "sit back and watch like everybody else.''
Rutgers and the NFL draft
For the first time in school history Rutgers had a pair of players selected in the first round of the NFL Draft in Anthony Davis (11th overall, San Francisco) and Devin McCourty (27th, New England), but Schiano acknowledged being "disappointed" the only other Scarlet Knight to get drafted was Ryan D'Imperio (7th round, Minnesota).
"I'm a little disappointed more of our guys didn't get drafted because I think they're worthy, but I think they'll prove their worth,'' Schiano said. "George Johnson is going to play in the National Football League. Damaso (Munoz)…I think our guys, better than anybody, know when you look at an Eric Foster, when you look at a Gary Brackett, they're not afraid.
"I know one thing, our kids will go in there and they'll out-work people and they'll out-prepare people, and a lot of times when you do that in the National Football League, you end up sticking. I think that's why our guys do stick when they get on a team.''
But the fact Rutgers has three first-round picks the last two years certainly helps the perception of the program.
"I think it makes us real,'' Schiano said. "We got three first-rounders in the last two years. Not a lot of schools can claim that. It makes us real. There's still stuff, obviously, that we have to do. We're building a program here, but I am not as much timeline conscious as others.
"As long as we continue to do it the right way, I'm certain we're going to get there. I'm betting my whole career on it. We're going to get there.''