Quartucci on Learning Curve, Love for Rutgers

Hamilton (N.J.) West product Frank Quartucci grew up a Rutgers fan, so when he was offered a scholarship, he jumped at it. And when he was asked to enroll early, he jumped at that. After entering school in January and taking part in his first spring practice, the 6-foot-4, 290-pound guard gave his thoughts on what he learned in the spring, who is helping him the most, and his love of Rutgers.

PISCATAWAY -- It wasn't long into freshman offensive guard Frank Quartucci's first practice when he was metaphorically slapped in the face as to what college football was going to be like.

He was trying to block defensive tackle Scott Vallone. Yes, trying.

"The first time I had him, he got under me and he kind of pushed me back a few yards,'' Quartuccci said. "Well, more than a few yards. It was a wake-up call that you need better technique.''

It was part of the spring practice learning experience for Quartucci, a 6-foot-4, 290-pounder out of Hamilton (N.J.) West High. He graduated early, enrolled at Rutgers in January and spent much of the spring playing on the second-team offensive line.

One of the things that kept Quartucci from being overwhelmed was the leadership of veteran offensive linemen Howard Barbieri and Art Forst, both of whom spent countless hours watching film with the freshman.

"The players are a lot bigger, a lot faster, but it's a fun experience,'' Quartucci said. "The most difficult thing is the mindset, just learning all the different techniques. My head is not spinning as much as when I got here. I'm learning a great deal of how to deal with difficult situations in a short period of time.''

Although the transition wasn't seamless (when is it for a freshman?), Quartucci wouldn't change a thing. After all, he is playing at his dream school.

In fact, when coach Greg Schiano was unveiling the 2010 class, Quartucci stood out for a different reason than the others.

"When Frank committed to me, he was in my office, and I went and gave him my spiel to get him all psyched up and ready to come to Rutgers,'' Schiano said at the time. "Frank sat up on the edge of the couch and said, ‘Coach, I appreciate all that, but I've dreamt of coming to Rutgers since I was a little kid.'

"That was the first player in the history of my career that said that, and I tell you, it sent chills up my spine.''

Quartucci said his passion for the Scarlet Knights began when the program went to its first of what is now five straight bowls games.

"Rutgers was in my home state,'' he said. "It seemed like when they started doing good, everybody starting getting that ‘R' magnet, and it seemed like everyone was behind them and that was pretty cool.''

A few years later Quartucci attended his first Rutgers game, and it wasn't because he was a recruit. He bought tickets and sat with his family in the stands and watched a game against West Virginia.

"I came my sophomore year, before they even knew about me,'' Quartucci said. "They had no idea who I was. The first game I remember was Rutgers-West Virginia, the game in the rain. It was nice. I had never been to a college game before, and I was amazed just how loud it was, and how much fun it was. It was one of the best experiences.''

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