Thursday, January 12, 2006

Rutgers Football Future

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So, Reggie Bush (Report: Bush already interviewing agents) and LenDale White (USC tailback White entering NFL draft) are both opting to enter the NFL Draft this spring. Along with Lienhart’s graduation that means a complete backfield turnover for USC. That could make things very competitive on the west coast.

Meanwhile, here in the homeland, Brian Leonard, Rutgers’ fullback, will be returning as a 5th year senior.(Leonard to Return for 2006 Football Season.) Leonard has proven himself to be an all-purpose back having rushed for 2,353 yards and caught 169 passes. He is a two-time first-team All-America selection by Pro Football Weekly and a two-time All-BIG EAST Conference selection. He has also been nominated twice for the Doak Walker Award (given annually to the nation's top running back) in both 2004 and 2005.
“I sat down with my parents, and we discussed this for long hours at a time. I felt throughout my college career that I proved that I can play at the next level,” Leonard said. “But there's one thing I haven't proved, and that's taking Rutgers to a BCS (bowl) game and winning a championship.

“I see Rutgers as a powerhouse in the future, and I want to be a part of it. So, it was my heartfelt decision that I'll be back for my senior year,” Leonard added.

Add freshman running back Ray Rice and sophomore quarterback Mike Teel and things look promising in the offensive backfield. They also have Jermy Ito returning to do the place kicking. (Ito Named to All-Bowl Team)

The Scarlet Knights lose major players in the receiving corps (Tres Moses and Chris Baker are gone and several others, while having a year left of eligibility, are seniors and may be graduating) and on the defense. Ryan Neill, for one, will be badly missed.

Many freshmen and sophomores will have to step up next year. Here’s hoping they can. A lot depends upon the recruiting class for the incoming freshmen as well. Rutgers stock has certainly improved in that area withtheir bowl appearance and performance this year.

While the home field advantage isn’t what it could be, the Knights could get aid in their six home games (Illinois, Liberty, Louisville, Buffalo, Syracuse and Connecticut) next year.

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