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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Rutgers Kaleb Johnson, Jacksonville play important role for Kamren Lott

Rutgers' Kaleb Johnson speaks with early enrollee Kamren Lott, another Jacksonville, Fla., native, nearly every day. (AP file photo) 

By Tyler Barto
Twitter: @Tyler_Barto

PISCATAWAY — When Kaleb Johnson announced Jan. 14 that he'd return to Rutgers for his senior season, a future teammate exhaled.

Kamren Lottone of five freshmen who enrolled early for the spring semester, shares Johnson's Jacksonville, Fla., roots. He said Monday that Johnson, a three-year starter along the offensive line, was one of the reasons he committed to Rutgers.

"He’s like a big brother to me, being from Jacksonville," said Lott, a three-star cornerback, according to "I’m glad he stayed for his senior year. Just look for a big season from him.”

Saeed Blacknall's decommitment magnifies offseason issues

Lott, a First Coast High grad, and Johnson's Ed H. White High play each other every season. Only 21 miles in Duval County separate them. Lott and First Coast won, 39-21, in last season's matchup.

"The first day we had a team meeting and we had to introduce ourselves, Lott said at the team's Hale Center facility. "When I said I was from Jacksonville, (Johnson) was like, ‘Duval.’ He just shows me love every time I see him. That’s a good thing.

“We talk almost every day. When I’m in the weight room with the new freshmen, he’s in there getting an extra lift in, so we’re always communicating.”

Six of Rutgers' 23 commits in the Class of 2014 come from Florida, the southernmost point of the Scarlet Knights' recruiting network. More than 20 percent of Rutgers' current scholarship players, including its 2014 haul, played Florida high school football.

“Probably just the tradition they built here," Lott said when asked about Rutgers' allure in the Sunshine State. "You can’t pass up the NFL pipeline, too, with the Patriots and Buccaneers.”

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