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2003 PREVIEW: Rutgers Scarlet Knights

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Rutgers needs to turn everything around in a hurry. When head coach Greg Schiano arrived three years ago after serving as Miami's defensive coordinator, he was going to change the program with a new attitude and an overall upgrade in talent. The athleticism is getting better with 25 players from Florida, while Schiano has convinced some of the top New Jersey players to stay at home. Now the team needs to get more physical, especially on the offensive line. The Scarlet Knights weren't even close to being competitive for most of last season with no offensive firepower whatsoever. The skill players were young and fighting through growing pains, but they weren't able to progress behind one of the worst lines in America.

Scarlet Knights
Team Information
Head coach: Greg Schiano
3rd year: 2-20
Returning O Lettermen: 20
Returning D Lettermen: 22
Returning ST Lettermen: 1
Lettermen Lost: 10
Ten Best Players
1. CB Nate Jones, Sr.
2. DE Raheem Orr, Sr.
3. CB Brandon Haw, Sr.
4. LB Brian Bender, Sr.
5. QB Ryan Hart, Soph.
6. C Marty Pyszczymuka, Sr.
7. LB Brian Hohmann, Sr.
8. DT Gary Gibson, Sr.
9. RB Markis Facyson, Soph.
10. WR Shawn Tucker, Soph.
2003 Schedule
8/30 Buffalo
9/6 at Michigan State
9/13 at Army
9/27 Navy
10/4 Virginia Tech
10/11 at West Virginia
10/18 Pittsburgh
10/25 at Temple
11/8 at UConn
11/15 Boston College
11/22 at Miami
11/29 Syracuse
To change things up, Schiano brought aboard new offensive coordinator Craig Ver Steeg from Utah. His biggest test will be to get production out of an offensive line that gave up 51 sacks, but this spring didn't help matters as several key players were injured. The defense should be fine with good athletes and nice prospects at several positions. It isn't going to be a brick wall, but it'll be good enough to get the job done if the offense can help out. So where does all of this leave Schiano? Is his job in trouble? Not yet. As poor as Rutgers has been, this is a program that needed a thorough house cleaning, and that's what he's doing. With all of the young players and all the changes in personnel, this is going to be a team, and a program, that needs as much time as possible. It might take another few years, but there has to be some sign of life this season. The Schedule: It isn't all that bad. There's enough winnable games to come up with at least three victories. The Scarlet Knights have a chance to beat Buffalo, Army, Navy and Temple. UConn is strong, but not so good that Rutgers can't come up with a good performance. They won't be good enough handle the rest of the Big East teams on the slate. Best Offensive Player: Sophomore QB Ryan Hart. He has the skill and a little bit of experience. Now he has to deliver after looking strong this spring. Will he have the players around him to shine? Best Defensive Player: Senior CB Nate Jones. Jones is the team's best overall player as its top cover corner and a great kick returner. He has tremendous speed and good ability making 84 tackles and two interceptions on defense, and averaging 28.3 yards per kickoff return. Key player to a successful season: The entire offensive line. You don't average 51.7 rushing yards per game and allow 41 sacks by accident. This group has to break in several new starters and become much better. The season will be a success if ... Rutgers wins three games. This might not seem like much, but this is a team that lost 37-19 to D-IAA Villanova, beat Army 44-0, and didn't come within twenty points of anyone else. Considering the team has won three games in three years, a three-win season would be a good step. Key game: August 30 vs. Buffalo. The Bulls shocked Rutgers in a 34-11 win for their only victory of the year. Rutgers has to come out roaring and blow away the mediocre Bulls to show that this season could be different. 2002 Fun Stats:
  • Second half scoring: Opponents 231 - Rutgers 65
  • Rushing yards per game: Opponents 207 - Rutgers 51.7
  • Rushing touchdowns: Opponents 20 - Rutgers 5
  • Sacks: Opponents 51 - Rutgers 15

  • 2003 Recruiting Class
    Star of the Class
    Donnie Diaz WR Jr. 6-6 195 Grand Rapids, Minn./Johnson/Itasca CC
  • Will bolster the Scarlet Knight receiving corps with his exceptional height and speed ... Had 46 receptions for 857 yards and 11 touchdowns in the Vikings¿ nine-game season ... Earned All-Conference and All-Region honors in each of his two seasons at Itasca ... Was a two-time Conference Player of the Week ... Also a standout on the Itasca basketball team where he averages 18 ppg ... Scored 36 points, including the final 14 points of the game, to trigger a come-from-behind win over Minnesota West College
  • Keon Braswell DB Fr. 6-0 180 Miami, Fla./Norland
    Jamar Brittingham RB Fr. 6-1 195 Langhorne, Pa./Neshaminy/Kiski Prep
    Marcus Daniels WR Fr. 6-2 185 Miami, Fla./Miami Central
    *Clint Dato OL Jr. 6-5 325 La Habra, Calif./La Habra/Cerritos CC
    Michael Fladell OL Fr. 6-8 350 Howard Beach, N.Y./John Adams
    Eric Foster LB Fr. 6-1 225 Homestead, Fla./Homestead Senior
    Willie Foster WR Fr. 5-10 185 Miami, Fla./Miami Central
    Quintero Frierson LB Fr. 6-0 215 Coral Gables, Fla./Coral Gables
    Ken Gillespie LB/S Fr. 6-0 205 Long Branch, N.J./Long Branch
    Ron Green OL Jr. 6-6 320 Linden, N.J./Linden/Dixie State (Utah) JC
    Justise Hairston RB Fr. 6-1 210 New Britain, Conn./New Britain/Milford
    David Harley DT Jr. 6-1 300 Tallahassee, Fl/Lincoln/Pasadena (Calif.) CC
    *Samuel Johnson TE Fr. 6-4 240 Midland Park, N.J./Bergen Catholic
    Orlando Kane WR Fr. 5-9 170 Lawrenceville, N.J./Lawrence
    Brad Listori TE Fr. 6-4 225 Milford, Conn./Notre Dame HS
    Joe Porter DB Fr. 5-9 175 Franklin Township, N.J./Franklin
    Rashawn Ricks LB Fr. 6-3 235 Paterson, N.J./Paterson Catholic
    Derek Roberson DB Fr. 5-10 170 Oakland Park, Fla./Northeast
    Terrence Shawell QB Fr. 6-4 190 Pottstown, Pa./Pottstown Senior
    Pedro Sosa OL Fr. 6-5 275 Union City, N.J./Union Hill
    Devraun Thompson FB Fr. 5-11 215 Piscataway, N.J./Piscataway
    Charles "Tre" Timbers DB Fr. 5-10 170 Oakhurst, N.J./Long Branch
    *Potential Instant Impact Players
    Tagged: Rutgers, West Virginia, Minnesota, Michigan State, Toledo, Navy, Notre Dame, Army

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