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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

In their own words: Rutgers players reflect on training camp

By Tyler Barto
Twitter: @Tyler_Barto

Tuesday's practice signaled the end of Rutgers' 19-day training camp, ushering in game preparation for Fresno State in the team's Aug. 29 season opener.

The Trentonian caught up with Steve Longa, Marcus Thompson and Lorenzo Waters to re-hash their training camp memories that ranged the spectrum. The following are their stories through their own eyes.


Longa"It wasn't training camp. It was during the spring. It was like the first scrimmage during spring ball. It was a toss sweep. I was playing behind (Kevin) Snyder at WILL at the time. I was just playing physical that game. I had a very, very good scrimmage. That's when I got a phone call telling me I'm going to move to MIKE. I was surprised. I think that was one of the best nights. Coach was like, 'This is an opportunity for you to be a starter. Let's see how it goes.' I think that was the best."

Waters: "I had a pretty good scrimmage last year — interception, forced fumble, two sacks. I think that was one of my better moments in training camp."


Longa"The first scrimmage we had, my mom and dad were in the stands, and I got blind-sided in front of my parents. It was the first time it ever happened in my life.

"I remember (it was tight end Tyler Kroft). I don't think I'm ever going to forget that. That was the worst experience in front of my parents."

Thompson: "I had to set the edge (at SAM linebacker) and I didn't get out there. (Former head coach Greg) Schiano kind of ripped me pretty bad.
"I didn't set the edge. A lot of times in meetings, as a young kid you come in and every young kid thinks, 'I'm going to be the superstar. I did this in high school.' It's totally different on a college level. Going to meetings and stuff, thinking, sitting there, you're not too focused. You're like, 'I got it, coach, I got it.' Now it humbles you. It really does. When I was a young wild one."

Waters"My freshman year, when I didn't know what to expect. I'd even go back and say practice No. 1 because I didn't know."

IN PRINT: Rutgers 'D' to balance aggressiveness with new secondary


Thompson"They're kind of similar. It's just that (head) coach (Kyle) Flood took it up a notch a little bit. Not saying that Schiano wasn't hard — he was hard. His camps were hard. I guess Coach Flood built off of what Schiano had us doing and then took us out of that comfort zone of just being that. You set goals for yourself. Last year I didn't really have many goals for myself. I was just trying to feel out my position. ... The camps, every year it was a notch."

Waters"(pause) It's similar in many ways. It's not too different. Flood has a great feel for his players, tempo and how things should be run and how practices are as far as plays. Moving through play by play, making corrections in the film room rather than spending a whole lot of time breaking down each and every play."

MORE: Betim Bujari details his pre-snap reads


Longa"I feel like time flew by fast. It flew by very fast. I didn't know it was going to be this fast. I remember coming in and (Steve) Beauharnais telling me, 'Enjoy every chance and every minute of this because it's going to go by fast.' I was just like, 'Whatever you say, man. I'm a freshman.' I had that type of mentality."

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Thompson"It's been kind of rough, especially in the beginning. Coming from high school, they moved me to defense. I played running back in high school. It wasn't dramatic, but it was a big difference. I was always an aggressive player. Trying to adapt and trying to learn the plays, it was kind of tough for me. Other than that, every year I got better at it."

Waters: "It's a good feeling. I wouldn't say it's bittersweet. Training camp is never really fun, but it's a great time bonding with the team, just focusing on football. This one's been special being a leader and one of the older guys. I get to help out and take that position."

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