By Tyler Barto
EDITOR'S NOTE: I'll use this space to post my Monday column on all things Rutgers, especially relationships and scenes away from the field. It will include side notes, private moments and content that doesn't typically receive notice. Hope you enjoy the first one.
|(Courtesy of Rutgers Athletics Communications)|
all waited at the school along North Franklin Turnpike, the one with the white
walls and maroon-colored lockers and turf football field.
explosive four-star receiver. The program-changing defensive tackle. The New
Jersey coaching czar.
Jan. 26, 2012, they knew something had to be up, especially when five Rutgers
assistants couldn’t reach Greg Schiano’s cell phone.
whirlwind six days followed, and somehow Rutgers retained a commitment from
Leonte Carroo and gained one from Darius Hamilton, their Don Bosco quarterback
Gary Nova already in Piscataway.
Rutgers’ inaugural Big Ten season, fans would be hard pressed to find a trio
more likely to determine the Scarlet Knights’ fate.
knew coming out of high school that if we went to the same college there would
be a lot of pressure on us to perform and do well as a unit to represent the
school we come from,” Nova told me recently. “We have a lot of pressure on our
backs, but we just have to go out there and play well.”
National Signing Day in 2012, the better question: How did Rutgers corral the most
important crop that almost never was?
was pretty hectic,” Hamilton said of the six-day period that began with
Schiano’s departure to the NFL. “At the time I wasn’t too worried because I had
already taken my visits. I had already looked at other schools, so it wasn’t
like I was completely lost. Now Leonte, on the other hand, had taken no visits
and was completely lost. He didn’t know what he was going to do.”
Rutgers’ top returning receiver, had re-opened his commitment. He fielded phone
calls as Rutgers rushed to name offensive line coach Kyle Flood to the top
position nearly overnight.
already on campus for a season, was less uncertain.
Leonte, I kind of had more information about where he was going to go,” Nova
“As far as Darius, he’s like my little brother. I knew he had all the
schools in the country looking at him. I kind of just (decided to) lay off. I
know it was a total surprise when he chose to come to Rutgers.”
A commitment from Carroo firmed, Hamilton made his announcement the night
before signing day, choosing Rutgers over Miami (Fla.), among others.
pact from Don Bosco, the North Jersey high school football titan, was secure.
a huge sense of pride, especially for them to come from high school and being
centerpieces at Bosco to being centerpieces here,” Hamilton said. “We’ve always
been close. I don’t think this has done anything but bring us a lot closer
together. It’s been a lot of fun.”
their rise hasn’t come without obstacle.
an Edison native, had to stay with a host family in Ramsey just to go to
school. Nova waited in the wings for two seasons before finally starting.
Hamilton’s work ethic waned.
"We've always been close. I don't think this has done anything but bring us a lot closer together." — Darius Hamilton
one thing guys know over the years when they have gotten Bosco guys is they
play early and they don’t quit,” their high school coach, Greg Toal, said. “Very
seldom do you see a Bosco guy that goes to college and leaves. The practices
aren’t going to be any tougher in college than they were at Don Bosco, that’s
for one, is grateful. He lists the trio as one of several he needs intact
during a program-defining first Big Ten season.
healthy Carroo — he missed the final third of the season — tops his checklist.
he the fastest guy out there? He’s fast, I don’t know if he’s the fastest,”
Flood said of Carroo. “Is he the quickest change-of-direction guy out on the
field? He’s got good change of direction, I don’t know if he’s the quickest.
But I don’t know if there’s another player on the field that’s stronger to the
ball than Leonte is.”
fate after this season remains unclear.
a senior, will likely monopolize Rutgers’ passing records, most held by Don
Bosco’s Mike Teel, now a graduate assistant.
by strong seasons in the Big Ten, Carroo and Hamilton could opt to enter the
NFL Draft a year early.
they could return. They’ve waited it out before. It’s the tie that binds.
“We’re just Ironmen.”
History on line in Big Ten debut
Rutgers' Sept. 13 matchup with Penn State isn't only the program's Big Ten opener; it's also the only Big Ten Network-scheduled game — so far — to work in a live on-site pregame show.
"I think it’ll be an incredible atmosphere," BTN's Dave Revsine, who visited campus two weeks ago, told me. "When I was there in April to talk to the Rutgers officials, they were saying they think other than the huge Louisville primetime game a number of years ago (2006) that this will probably be their biggest home game they’ve ever had. Excitement was palpable even then. I think it’s going to be an amazing scene."
The last time the network aired an on-site show was Oct. 8, 2011, when BTN hosted a pregame show at its Chicago headquarters before driving to Evanston, Illinois, to film pregame, halftime and postgame for Michigan at Northwestern.
"It’s not unprecedented that we can do that, but this will be the first time we’ll open on the road the entire day,” Revsine said of Penn State-Rutgers, which kicks off at 8 p.m.
Back at practice after suffering an unspecified injury early in camp, Kaleb Johnson is sporting a new Justin Tuck-inspired grill, complete with five diagonal and 12 vertical bars.
“It’s something I was begging Mike Kuzniak, our equipment manager, about for a long time," Johnson said. "It’s something I wanted to kind of put my personality in my facemask.”
He spent spring practice with the team's only off-red helmet.
"It was just a transition-type thing," Johnson said.
Here are some of the interesting sports stories I've read lately:
Labels: Big Ten Network, Darius Hamilton, Dave Revsine, Gary Nova, Greg Toal, Kyle Flood, Leonte Carroo, Rundown