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Rutgers Football 2009: Receivers

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Rutgers Football 2009: Receivers
(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Jan, 3, 2009: Kenny Britt, the best wide receiver in Rutgers' history decides to forgo his senior season and enter into the 2009 NFL draft.  He takes with him 3,043 yards, the most ever by a Rutgers wide receiver.

Mar. 3, 2009: Junior wide receiver Dennis Campbell is dismissed from the team for violating team rules.  He was a projected starter for the 2009 Rutgers football team and was the fourth leading wide receiver last season with 25 catches for 307 yards and one touchdown.

Sometime in late May, 2009: Senior wide receiver Tiquan Underwood graduates from Rutgers University.  In 2007, he had a 1000-yard season and in 2008, he had 40 receptions for 494 yards and five touchdowns.

Now:  Rutgers must fill the void left by these three receivers.  Many fans ask how will a team that lost both starting wide receivers and one of their proven slot receivers accomplish such a feat as winning the Big East.

I think Tim Brown knows the answer to that.

The 5'8", 165 pound senior will take over for Kenny Britt as the No. 1 receiver.  As Rutgers premier No. 3 receiver last season, Brown had 27 receptions for 565 yards and six touchdowns last year.  He averages 19.8 yards a reception.

To go with very reliable hands, Brown has breakaway speed and is a deep threat every time he's in.  He has had more than one 100-yard game, his best coming against Louisville last season when he had four receptions for 173 yards and two touchdowns.

People say Tim Brown is too small to be a starter.  They say he only was successful because he was left open by defenders who were covering Kenny Britt and Tiquan Underwood.

Does anybody remember the 2006 Texas Bowl?? Tiquan Underwood was injured in the previous game against West Virginia and couldn't play.

Tim Brown was the starter that game and against a good Kansas State defense he had four receptions for 101 yards and two touchdowns.

And people said his height would stop him from being good.

Well football fans, after three seasons in Britt and Underwood's shadow, Tim Brown finally gets his chance this year to be the go-to wide receiver.

Tim Brown will be replacing Kenny Britt, but who is replacing Tiquan Underwood?

Enter true freshman Mohamed Sanu.  The 6'3" Sanu is a big target who also happens to be a freak athlete.  He came to Rutgers as an early enrollee for spring practice and was supposed to be a safety.

After moving his way up to second on the depth chart, Sanu was moved to wide receiver and was a first team receiver after only a week of practicing. He has speed and an array of juking, spinning, and other moves to shake defenders and gain yards.

If anybody watched the Scarlet and White game you will have seen Sanu's three receptions for 43 yards including a 17-yard touchdown in which he caught a three-yard pass from Dom Natale, juked two defenders, and ran the other 14 yards into the end zone.

These don't look like impressive stats, but Sanu didn't play the whole game.

Coach Greg Schiano named Sanu the other starter opposite Tim Brown.

People say most freshmen have a hard time adjusting to college their first year.  Sanu feels he isn't one of them.

"I feel very comfortable in the offense." Sanu said.

Remember that in 2006, during Rutgers' 11-2 season, freshman wide receiver Kenny Britt started right away and quickly became the go-to receiver for Mike Teel.

I'm not saying Sanu is the next Kenny Britt, as they are two different players.

Maybe Sanu could be even better than Britt was.

Julian Hayes will take over Tim Brown's old role as the Knights' primary slot receiver.  He saw action in 12 games last fall.  The 6'1" junior is second among returning wide receivers with a whopping one catch for nine yards.

He and Sanu battled for the second wide receiver spot and made a pretty good case to be the starter.  During one scrimmage he had seven catches for 135 yards and two touchdowns.

Keith Stroud will most likely take Dennis Campbell's fourth receiver job.  A redshirt freshman out of Brooklyn, New York Stroud is 6'4" and possesses a Larry Fitzgerald-like leaping ability. He excels at catching jump balls when being covered and usually brings them down. He doesn't have blazing speed, but he has power and is athletic enough to get open on plays.

Junior Mason Robinson should also see some playing time. Robinson was a running back his first two seasons but was switched to wide receiver due to a lack of depth. He has the raw speed to be a very good deep threat and can definitely catch out of the backfield.  If he improves on his route running he could be a dangerous weapon.

Other players who should get some playing time are redshirt freshmen Tim Wright, Marcus Cooper, Pat Brown, and Eddie Poole.

Senior wide receiver Andrew DePaola will not get any time because he also plays long snapper, and according to Schiano, DePaola is "too good of a long snapper to risk him getting injured while playing wideout."  Rutgers will miss his down-field blocking skills.

At tight end is returning starter Shamar Graves.  The 6'3" junior is a great receiving tight end who improved his blocking skills over the offseason.  He was the Big East's second leading tight end in receiving yards (227) behind only Pittsburgh’s Nate Byham.  He also scored three touchdowns.

The battle for No. 2 tight end is where this gets interesting.

No, it's not between highly touted tight end recruits Paul Carrezola and Malcolm Bush.

Walk-on freshman Tony Trahan and quarterback-turned-tight end D.C. Jefferson are currently battling it out.  Tony Trahan had more practice at tight end and it is his natural position.

The rocket-armed D.C. Jefferson played quarterback all of spring practice and most of summer practice.  He has unrealistic arm strength. One pass he attempted during spring practice went 80 yards, far over the receiver's head.  His problem was that he struggled heavily with his accuracy

Jefferson is the more intriguing of the two because at 6'6", 230 pounds he definitely has the size and blocking abilities to be a good tight end.  Did I mention he's fast?

If D.C. can catch the ball, then he will be a dangerous tight end and could be the starter after Graves graduates.  If he plays well enough, he has the potential to maybe even take the starting job from Graves next season.

Overall, there’s too much depth and raw talent for a reliable receiver or two not to break out from this group, and quarterbacks Dom Natale and Tom Savage should have enough weapons to throw to to be successful.

 

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