Piscataway, New Jersey, August 16th, 2015 –
It was a Sunday to remember at the Brown Football Recruiting Pavilion where Rutgers Football hosted their annual Media Day. Confidence in the team and eagerness to play brewed amongst the coaches, players, and media members included. Head Coach Kyle Flood kicked off the press conference speaking towards the first week of training camp, saying that he enjoyed the way his team has responded with the mental and physical challenges summer practice has brought thus far. Coach Flood spoke to the different challenges his team faces, one of which being in the number one media market in the world. “We feel like now we’ve got an opportunity this season to take our program to places that it has not been before,” the Head Coach asserted. A tremendously bold statement after finishing last season 8-5 in its first year as a member of the Big Ten and becoming bowl eligible for the 9th season in the past 10 years.
Following Coach Flood’s interview came the first media interaction of the summer with Defensive Coordinator Joe Rossi. Coach Rossi began his presser stating that the most difficult part of training camp is now over with and was the coach who opened up most in regards to personnel and the 2015 schedule with the media. Being in his second year at the helm of the Scarlet Knights defense, Coach Rossi noted that, “this is the first year I’ve been here since 2012 we are going to play a very similar schedule again,” and how that is “a positive from just a familiarity standpoint” (Norfolk St. and Kansas being the new opponents this year). The DC also expressed his confidence in the safety position where there is plenty of experience and said that Rutgers has made adjustments at all three levels of the defense.
This was also the media’s first interaction of the summer with Offensive Coordinator Ben McDaniels. Having been the Wide Receivers coach last year, McDaniels is sure to be familiar with the personnel and undoubtedly ready to take over the play calling from 2014’s Offensive Coordinator Ralph Friedgen. When asked about the immense depth at the running back position Coach McDaniels confirmed Flood’s earlier remark that running the football is the identity of this team by saying, “within any offense, I think you’re going to lean on some of the best parts of what you think is within your offense and strong points in your personnel.” This may come as a surprise to the public with the vast amount of NFL talent Rutgers had produced in past years at the wide receiver position, along with a serious Biletnikoff Award candidate in Leonte Carroo who’s still a major impact player in this offense. The OC also declared, “there’s going to be multiple receivers on field in most cases.”
The final part of media day ended with player interviews. Outstanding statements included Senior Linebacker Quentin Gause referencing a John Wooden quote, “Doing the small things to get better,” in regards to improving the run defense from last year. Playing every game at a high level and giving 100 percent is important to Gause who said, “every game has to be a national championship game, Norfolk State is a national championship game, one game at a time, every game is going to be like that.” Another great statement came from Junior Wide Receiver Janarion Grant relating to the impact that Carroo’s stardom has had on the unit who said, “everybody’s working to be better than each other, were not trying to work to be number 2, we’re trying to be the top, and that’s our energy and drive.” The return specialist and speedster Grant who averaged 25.3 yards per kickoff return last season figures to have a much larger role on offense this year.
WRSU was also able to catch up with Senior Defensive Tackle and team leader Darius Hamilton who was energetic to get back on the field after spending most of training camp’s first week on the injury report. “I just want to be known as a kid who gave it all he had when he was out there, was the ultimate teammate, loved his teammates, and was tough as nails man,” said Hamilton when asked about what mark he’d like to leave on this program. “Trench Mob” is the nickname that Hamilton said he and his Defensive line unit will be donning this fall. Winning the trenches each game will certainly be of importance to this defensive line that is expected to be better than last season’s unit, which ranked among the top of the conference in sacks for the majority of the year.
By Dylan Mruczinski