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Sunday, August 4, 2013

Kyle Flood names captains, including Gary Nova, early

By Tyler Barto
Twitter: Tyler_Barto

PISCATAWAY — Brandon Coleman, Jamal and Jamil Merrell and Gary Nova are team captains.

Head coach Kyle Flood announced the decision before the team's open practice Sunday. Jamal Merrell was once position-less, swapping time at wide receiver and the defensive line before recording 127 combined tackles at SAM the last two seasons.

Jamil Merrell, Jamal's twin brother, led the team last season with 5.5 sacks.
Kyle Flood decided to announce team captains more than two weeks
earlier this season because of a wide margin in voting. (Tyler Barto)

"I always wanted to accomplish that," Jamal Merrell said. "I felt as though working hard would prove it to the team, and they picked me."

Coleman led the team with 10 touchdown receptions a year ago, and he's within striking distance of Tim Brown's Rutgers record of 20 career receiving touchdowns. He's been used sparingly in camp after undergoing offseason knee surgery.

Nova, who has started 18 career games, became the team's first captain at quarterback since Mike Teel. Three different starting quarterbacks have passed since. 

"It's a pretty big deal, especially because it's voted on by the players," Nova said. "I worked pretty hard this summer, so it feels good to be recognized by your teammates."

"Quarterback is always going to be a position of leadership regardless of whether or not he's the captain," Flood said. "But there probably is a little bit of an added bonus when his peers do see him genuinely in that role."

Flood waited until three weeks through training camp a year ago to name team captains. The team voted twice, Flood said, weeks apart, but the top four held a wide gap in voting.

NOTES: Senior guard Antwan Lowery left practice early with an ankle sprain. Flood did not have details on the extent of the injury. ... Flood praised redshirt freshman Carlton Agudosi, whom he said added between 10 and 15 pounds in the offseason. "Now he's got to show he can continue to do it over time," Flood said. ... Players wore shoulder pads for the first time, and full pads and full contact follow early next week.

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