WR Tiquan Underwood

2007 Statistics

Coach: Greg Schiano
38-46, 7 years
2007 Record: 8-5
NAVY WON 41-24
at Syracuse WON 38-14
at Connecticut LOST 19-38
at Army WON 41-6
at Louisville LOST 38-41
Ball State WON 52-30

2007 Final Rankings
AP-38, Coaches-UR, BCS-UR

2008 Outlook

The eight wins Greg Schiano earned with last year's team brought Rutgers to its greatest three-year juncture - 26 wins - since the great 1976-78 run (28 wins). The 2006 Coach of the Year has built this program over his seven prior campaigns into a winning one, one that ensures focus in the classroom as much as it promotes focus on the gridiron. Schiano brings in three new assistants to bolster his already savvy staff. And as much as everyone wants to know who the replacements for All-American graduate Ray Rice will be, the staff has to think that returning the defense to its 2006 profile will do the most to promote more wins. With ten viable starters coming back on each side of the ball, we foresee Rutgers seriously challenging for the league crown they've never won.

The offense looked great this spring under senior Mike Teel. He has increased his passer rating by 25 points since his freshman year, so by all football logic, he should be one of the nation's best and then become a top draft consideration. This offense was the first ever to produce a 3,000-yard passer, a 2,000-yard rusher and a pair of 1,000-yard receivers in the same season at this level, and coordinator John McNulty now leans on RB Mason Robinson to help his guys repeat this feat. Robinson will share the rock with Jourdan Brooks, a Brian Leonard-esque runner who gives McNulty the multiple dimensions for his two-back sets that he had during that amazing 2006 run. With all of the receivers back, all that is required is for the line to stand up. It's looking good coming into fall.

The troubles seem to be how to replace two unpredictable departures at defensive tackle. The good news on that front is that neither Studivant or Francis (who could still come back) was a starter yet, but each gave modest girth to a position that Schiano needs to find some size for. Sure-to-be All-Big East DT Pete Tverdov only needs one guy, and Westerman seems to be a hybrid DT/DE who can keep the bar high inside and up front. The end result with a top secondary and solid LBs should be a good one, but the run stopping stat - which tanked last year and can arguably be blamed for the change in win totals - will again go the farthest toward foretelling whether Rutgers is to finish in the top 25 or not...such was accurately foretold for the past two years this way.

Another kudo for Schiano is how he has scheduled some tougher non-cons, not a very Big East thing to do. Fresno State and North Carolina at home give way to a trip to Annapolis, which will truly measure the run defense's progress. Then the October onslaught begins after a quick breather. The first four conference games - with West Virginia, Cincy and Pittsburgh away from Piscataway - are all against teams with higher preseason rankings. Factor in the trip to Tampa to face a No.21 USF and you can see how the Scarlet Knight's work is cut out if they want to climb the ladder to the conference title, let alone the yet-to-be-reached BCS. This isn't an unrealistic goal, but more modest measuring sticks need to be found.

Rutgers hasn't yet proven they can sustain a national ranking in the polls except that magic season two years ago when they won their first bowl game ever. This fact should be enough to make the Knights hungry to prove how 2006 wasn't a fluke and that the nation's oldest program can find another undefeated season (like in 1876, 1961 or 1976) to shock the world as Teel bows out. With this as an aim, the team can be happy when they are still eligible for a double-digit win-total heading into November. Eleven or more wins would mean the greatest all-time four-year span of any Rutgers class...ever, and that would be something for the seniors to hang their hats on in this most classic of football sebastians.

Projected 2008 record: 8-4
DL Jamaal Westerman
QB - 4 DL - 3.5
RB - 3.5 LB - 3
WR - 4.5 DB - 4
OL - 3.5 ..
2007 Statistical Rankings
Total Off:
Sacks Allow:
Total Def:

Passing: Mike Teel, 203-349-13, 3147 yds., 20 TD

Rushing: Jabu Lovelace, 82 att., 332 yds., 4 TD

Receiving: Tiquan Underwood, 65 rec., 1100 yds., 7 TD

Scoring: Kenny Britt, 8 TD, 48 pts.

Punting: None

Kicking: None

Tackles: Courtney Greene, 101 tot., 54 solo

Sacks: Jamaal Westerman, 8 sacks

Interceptions: Devin McCourty, 2 for 36 yds., 1 TD

Kickoff returns: Tim Brown, 15 ret., 20.7 avg., 0 TD

Punt returns: Dennis Campbell, 13 ret., 5.5 avg., 0 TD


OFFENSE: Chris Rudanovic-TE, Pedro Sosa-OT, Mike Fladell-OG, Jeremy Zuttah-OT, Ray Rice-RB (NFL), Jeremy Ito-K/P, Vantrise Studivant-DT
DEFENSE: Eric Foster-DT, Brandon Renkart-LB, Ron Girault-SS

Even with three less wins, Rutgers improved its offensive showing in many ways last year. The maturing of Mike Teel under center and the growing knowledge of coordinator John McNulty have dovetailed into increases in passing yards (87 more per game from 2006 to '07), total yards (104 more) and points (three more). The one missing factor from before is Ray Rice, whose running forced defenses to change their alignments since his true freshman campaign, one that still ranks as one of the three greatest ever for a Big East first-year player. Three years of a guaranteed distraction with Rice now give way to unsure results, but we feel things will stay on par in the running game and Teel can take McNulty's schemes the furthest they've ever gone with so many other skill players already established.

Teel works out of an efficient pro-style delivery, one that assure him a job on Sundays, and he also gets away from incoming traffic beautifully, using his size to break arm-tackles and stepping aside so pass rushing DEs/LBs whiff like it's a sixth sense. The leadership levels shown in spring indicate this will be a special senior year for last year's No.17 passer (efficiency) - he's going to make sure. As much was evident in the spring game where Teel, who did not even play in the second half, managed to complete 16 of 25 passes for 238 yards and three touchdowns. This should be the year Teel makes his name well known across the land.
The biggest question is what happens after Teel, whether this year due to injury or next year due to graduation. Jabu Lovelace is a junior who has done (game) time for his amazing footwork, but who has struggled when his arm was forced into action. It seems he throws it primarily to keep foes honest. Lovelace will likely be a one-and-out starter next year when he's a senior, so expect to see the Tenafly product at least as often as last year and probably trying even more passes to work the kinks out. Teel needs to stat healthy for the Knights to reach .500.

The running game will lean on Mason Robinson, a sophomore who is the fifth fastest all-time (10.51) in the 100 for in-state high school runners (Group II). Robinson lost only three yards in his 36 carries last year, proof that he helps production. What there is no proof of is his ability to replace Rice's soft hands since he wasn't asked to catch very much last campaign. That chore might be Kordell Young's, an ex-DB who will be another scat-back to compliment the other sizable ground options. Jourdan Brooks is the newest Brian Leonard prototype, with speed to burn (4.5-second 40 time) and size to assure only a solid hit brings him down. Issues holding onto the rock are all Brooks has to overcome to be a star here. Joe Martinek has left the beauty of Lake Hopatcong behind for the rigors of New Brunswick, but he has proven why he was the top prep rusher ever in New Jersey and therefore earned the Gatorade Player of the Year nod. State wrestling champ (210lbs) Jack Corcoran had a superior spring to snag the start, and he and ex-DE Andre Morales are the designated drivers for the running game, making sure they gets the RBs where they need to go safely. A few carries/catches will be their reward, but we expect Brooks will do like Leonard used to and keep foes guessing about his role when inserted.

Teel's targets return en mass. Kenny Britt's 6'4 size assures his impact as a field stretching element, with fellow starter Tiquan Underwood also usually found past the opposing linebackers deeper downfield. Named appropriately, Tim Brown (not THE Tim Brown's son) was limited due to academic issues, so Dennis Campbell saw lots of reps this spring and looks strong as a slot-WR alternative. The future is Keith Stroud, a four-star Fork Union (VA) product who might redshirt if everyone stays healthy, but he can help immediately if need be. The tight end is athletic Kevin Brock; his seniority and lead-by-example creed exemplify his toughness and true impact.

Assistant head/line coach Kyle Flood has been a huge part of the offensive surge seen the past few years, and his guys again look strong. Concerns pertain the age/experience of even the returning starters. Take sophomore Anthony Davis, a consensus Freshman All-American who was employed immediately at right guard after Kevin Haslem needed replacing (Haslem said nerves got to him). Davis moves back to his natural position, and Haslem bumps to the left inside spot after he was recognized all spring by coach Schiano. Ryan Blaszczyk has the most experience of anyone up front, and his attitude is infectious so everyone has a good time while they plow. Right tackle Mike Gilmartin has a wide-ranging résumé, but injuries have kept him from earning starting status until this spring proved his worth. Caleb Ruch has used his power so far, but the RS froshes' technique needs help if he is to hold off the hopefuls. The top reserves are Art Forst and Howard Barbieri, and both will push for starting time to keep everyone playing at their highest level(s). The running game actually might be better with another Leonard-type joining the tailback and fullback roles together, something Ray Rice didn't have last year. But everything hinges on that OL coming together after losing three major components. The sacks allowed likely increase, but Teel will leave his mark as a senior regardless of the protection provided.


QB Mike Teel


Returning Starters/
Key Players
QB Mike Teel-Sr (6-4, 220) Jabu Lovelace-Jr (6-2, 205)
FB Jack Corcoran-Jr (6-1, 230) Andres Morales-So (6-2, 250)
RB Mason Robinson-So (5-10, 180) Kordell Young-So (5-9, 185)
WR Kenny Britt-Jr (6-4, 205) Tim Brown-Jr (5-8, 160)
WR Tiquan Underwood-Sr (6-2, 180) Dennis Campbell-Jr (5-9, 180)
TE Kevin Brock-Sr (6-5, 250) Shamar Graves-So (6-3, 230)
OT Anthony Davis-So (6-6, 325) Desmond Stapleton-Fr (6-5, 320)
OG Kevin Haslam-Jr (6-7, 280) Mo Lange-So (6-7, 315)
C Ryan Blaszczyk-Jr (6-4, 285) Marlon Romulus-So (6-3, 285)
OG Caleb Ruch-Fr (6-4, 290) Howard Barbieri-So (6-5, 290)
OT Mike Gilmartin-Sr (6-5, 290) Richard Muldrow-Fr (6-6, 300)
K San San Te-Fr (5-9, 165) ..



To put it simply, if a foe has gotten to the 28-point mark in a regular season game over the past two campaigns, that has proven to be enough scoring for the win. In each loss last year, the opponent ran for at least 150 yards, which explains why Rutgers' ranking for run defense sank to 60th (from 17th) and the scoring leapt from allowing 14 points per game up to allowing over 22. It meant about one more yard per rush from '06 to '07...by now, you can see where we are going with this.

Off-season developments have seen changes to the front seven - two guys graduated, but Studivant has mysteriously left and Francis is (at this juncture in May) suspended - that now pose a real challenge for new line coach Gary Emanuel. Putting together the two-deep at tackle has Emanuel banking on youth for any kind of rotation. The good news is that Pete Tverdov brings his ability to penetrate (8.5 TFLs). It wasn't departee Eric Foster who won the David Bender Award for the team's top DLmen last year, it was Union-product Tverdov. Perennial DE Jamaal Westerman has slid over, and he seems to have the girth to not lose a step (looked good there when he started versus Navy, but the Midshipmen don't have big OLmen). Wayne Thomas has become a relevant name after he looked like he would be just outside of the first four tackles. At 6'6, expect a few blocked kicks to go with the batted-down passes sure to be seen from Thomas. Alex Silvestro is rumored to be a tackle prospect, but he will likely fill in anywhere needed (started twice at end). Desmond Wynn got lots of reps in spring, but at DT, he doesn't seem to fit with his smaller size, decent speed and lack of (collegiate) experience inside. This all means newbie Scott Vallone, a four-star prospect, will likely see action if there are any troubles. The ends will be OK, even with Westerman sliding inside. George Johnson is an ex-LB/TE who had the starting spot from the start of the '07 season until Gary Watts took it from him. Johnson hurt his leg this spring and there are doubts as to whether he can give 100% for a full season. Watts likely gets the other starting nod at end, but we wonder whether it's opposite Johnson or Jon Freeny. Freeny had only thee tackles but five QB-hurries, an INT and a fumble recovery to boast of his potential. The line should be OK, but whether the inside can stand up to the better running teams will again dictate if this is to be a double-digit-win season or one where they barely get over .500.

Kevin Malast leads a capable LB corps, one that may be better than it just was, even though two main components left. Ryan D'Imperio was ready to start in the middle last year before his broken leg in spring meant a backup role. His return should be an upgrade over Damaso Munoz, a Miami native who uses his wrestling background to his advantage but who was forced to fill in for D'Imperio and never embraced the "captain's chair". Blair Bines is back after two broken jaws limited his '07 efforts. Bines and D’Imperio displacing Munoz, a proven starter who finished third for team tackles, just proves how much better the corps should be.

The DBs produced another top 10 pass defense (ranked sixth and fifth nationally for the last two years, respectively), and though it meant allowing 20 more yards per game, most of the two-deep returns to give promise of another outstanding secondary. The brothers McCourty are the definitive corner starters. Jason has adapted rather nicely from his RB spot, earning the start here in '06 and thriving ever since as the bookend to his identical twin, Devin. Devin gets thrown at more and responds in kind. Brandon Bing is an athletic burner - he finished fifth in the 200 indoors at the Nike Nationals and is worthy in the 400 and long jump, too. Anderson seems to be the opposite of Bing, with less stress on speed but lots of physical talent to secure his backup assignment. The drop-off behind Bing is noticeable, which has us thinking the two true freshmen may get their fair shake(s) to bolster the depth chart. One safety spot is assured, and Courtney Greene gave up the chance at the NFL to come back to reclaim it. Greene is found everywhere and he uses his size to hit like a Mack truck. The battle between Lee and Lefeged is a great one. Senior Glenn Lee did everything right once he got his chance to fill in (for the injured Ron Girault), but his troubles this spring in coverage mean he has to contend with the youth movement. Coverage is one of Freshman All-American Joe Lefeged's strengths, and since he finished with six more tackles and three more sacks than Lee, Rutgers wins as they fight for the start. Their competition was interrupted this spring when junior Davon Smart butted in - Smart took advantage of Lee and Lefeged being distracted by each other enough to earn the most time with the first-team by spring's end. The secondary can be left to its own auspices, freeing the front seven to rebound back to the levels seen in the 11-win season two years ago.


DB Courtney Greene


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE George Johnson-Jr (6-4, 250) Gary Watts-Sr (6-3, 245)
DT Pete Tverdov-Sr (6-4, 265) Wayne Thomas-Fr (6-5, 280)
DT Jamaal Westerman-Sr (6-3, 260) Desmond Wynn-Fr (6-6, 260)
Justin Francis-So (6-4, 260) (susp)
DE Alex Silvestro-So (6-4, 230) Jonathan Freeny-So (6-3, 230)
LB Kevin Malast-Sr (6-2, 230) Manny Abreu-Fr (6-3, 220)
LB Ryan D'Imperio-Jr (6-3, 235) Damaso Munoz-Jr (6-0, 210)
LB Blair Bines-Jr (6-2, 245) Jim Dumont-So (6-1, 215)
CB Jason McCourty-Sr (5-11, 185) Billy Anderson-Jr (6-0, 180)
CB Devin McCourty-Jr (5-11, 180) Brandon Bing-So (5-11, 160)
SS Joe Lefeged-So (6-1, 195) Glen Lee-Sr (6-2, 195)
FS Courtney Greene-Sr (6-2, 210) Davon Smart-Jr (5-10, 190)
P Teddy Dellaganna-So (6-2, 190) ..




Jeremy Ito was a solid place kicker, but his lacking punt stats show that Teddy Dellaganna should improve the Scarlet Knight's 117th-ranked net results. San San Te is, like Dellaganna, is a top prospect who has yet to prove anything. Working on handling crowd noise and other unknown distractions, Te worked the entire off-season at kicking while songs like The Jackson Five's 'ABC', Springsteen's 'Born to Run' and Sinatra's classic 'New York, New York' blared at maximum volumes. "I don't really hear the song. I try to block it out. I find out what it is when I read about it in the paper the next day." Now that's concentration. Tim Brown looks solid to again return kicks, but Campbell struggles as a return guy, so he needs to be replaced...maybe burner Bing?